Public, an upmarket café and bar located on Franklin Street in the CBD, has been open for just over three years and its owners James and Danielle are in the process of changing things up a little. To cater for customer demand Public is extending their opening hours with two new concepts, a Friday night Wine Down (3pm – late) and Saturday Brunch (8am – 2pm). Friday nights at Public will focus on the after-work crowd and feature a menu of small plates termed ‘Finger & Fork’ created by the new head chef Shane Piercy. Shane previously headed up the kitchen at The Sauce in Dulwich for six years, followed by Zucca Greek Mezze in Glenelg for the past three and a half years. In addition to food, cocktails and chilled beats Public will be showcasing a local food or wine maker each Friday night. The next of these events will be held on April 1st with their ‘Meet the Maker’ guest for that evening being cheesemaker Kim Masters from Section28 Artisan Cheeses. On the other hand, Saturday brunch at Public is about giving people the chance to experience Public that can’t make it during the week. Adelaide Food Central together with a host of other fellow ‘foodies’ were lucky enough to be invited along to sample Public’s Saturday brunch menu.
The launch kicked off with a tasting of three of Public’s new Brunch Cocktails; the Bloody Mary, Boozy Smoothie and Peach Nectar Bellini. The Boozy Smoothie consisted of Baileys, Frangelico, organic coffee, almond milk and ice all blended together and was by far my favourite of the three. The smoothie was much like an elegant fusion between an espresso martini and an iced coffee. After a few sips you forgot it was even alcoholic. I could have drunk these all day!
The food began with Sriracha Brioche sliders with scrambled egg, sriracha mayo and aged cheddar on mini brioche buns. These were some tasty little morsels! The sriracha added a chilli hit that worked well with the creaminess of the scrambled egg. I happened to notice on the menu that you have the option to add bacon to these as well (insert drooling sounds). These buns were a clever alternative to an egg and bacon muffin breakfast staple.
Next up was the Fish and Chips, but not your everyday run-of-the-mill fish and chips but rather red gum smoked salmon with hash and lemon beurre blanc. The flaked salmon had a lovely strong smoky flavour, whilst the mini hash browns were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
The Rice Pudding with coconut milk, wild rice, vanilla bean, tropical fruits and palm sugar syrup was one of my favourite dishes of the day. I loved the chewy texture of the wild rice grains alongside the natural sweetness of the palm sugar syrup; certainly not your typical stodgy rice pudding. It really is quite amazing how so few ingredients can come together to create such a delicious dish. I look forward to coming back to Public and having an entire bowl of this rice pudding to myself!
Up next was my absolute favourite menu item, the Breakfast Cassoulet, with sausage, duck meat, speck, beans, tomato and a baked egg and sourdough. This breakfast dish was the best of its kind! The casserole had hearty chucks of sausage and speck with shredded duck meat (not something you commonly see in breakfast dishes mind you) that I suspect was so tender and had simply fallen apart during the cooking process. The toasted sourdough was the perfect accompaniment to dip in the rich tomato base and runny egg yolk.
The Truffled Omelette with wild mushrooms, truffle oil and Grana Padano cheese was further testament to Public’s modern brunch menu. Again the egg was deliciously creamy which complemented the buttery and juicy mushrooms. The truffle flavour was subtle and not overpowering like it can be in some dishes.
Public’s brunch menu caters for everyone and includes what is aptly titled as the Green Bowl for the more health conscious amongst us. This dish essentially consists of greens (asparagus, smashed avocado and kale) and grains (both quinoa and cous cous) topped off with a brioche crumbed egg. Whilst the dish was fresh and healthy I found the amount of kale a little over the top for my liking. The pomegranate seeds not only added a contrasting pop of colour but a subtle sweet, yet tart, flavour profile to the somewhat bland tasting kale. I liked the lime wedge that was served with this dish as you could add as little or as much citrus juice as you desired.
Out next was the Blood Sausage, certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, served with heirloom tomatoes, a fried egg and toasted sourdough. Whilst I didn’t try the blood sausage myself, I was told it was tasty. I like the fact that whilst blood sausage can be quite unappealing to the eye (and palate for many), the dish was surprisingly one of the most elegant looking plates of the day.
By this stage our brunch bellies were beginning to bulge (excuse all the b’s)… but alas we had a couple more dishes to sample. The first of these was the Pig and Poached, a wholemeal roll filled with twelve hour slow cooked pork shoulder, house made chutney and greens topped with a poached egg. It was nice to see that the bread component was made from wholemeal flour instead of the more common white variety. The pork shoulder was deliciously tender and flavoursome; add some crunchy salty pork crackling and some rich tomato chutney and you have yourself a winning breakfast roll!
Last but by all means not least was the Fruit dish comprising a compressed watermelon and strawberry salad with star anise, orange blossom yoghurt and edible flowers. This dish was a perfect end to the menu launch as it was delightfully refreshing and light, almost reminiscent of a palate cleanser. The subtle tartness of the yoghurt balanced the natural sweetness of the fruits flawlessly.
Now just in case we weren’t full enough already, James and Danielle sent us home with an in-house baked Danish in a stylish cardboard box. I will have to admit that this sweet treat didn’t last very long in my hot little hands. It was one of the freshest danishes I have ever eaten. The pastry was wonderfully crispy, flaky and buttery… just downright delicious!
The service at Public was prompt and the staff were friendly and attentive. The prices for Public’s brunch menu range from $9 through to $22, which is very reasonable considering the quality of the food. One thing you will notice when dining at Public is the beautifully presented dishes which are all unique in their own right and certainly not your typical brunch menu dishes. I should also point out that Public brew a fantastic coffee and what brunch date is complete without coffee. So if you are looking for a new Saturday brunch location then look no further than Public and in the words of owner James, “we’re serious about our drinks, even more serious about our food”. Public is open Monday to Thursday (7am – 5pm), Friday (7am – late) and Saturday (8am – 2pm).
Adelaide Food Central would like to sincerely thank James and Danielle for the invitation to sample Public’s Saturday brunch menu and the rest of the staff at Public for their attentive and friendly hospitality on the day. All food and drinks at the launch were provided free of charge.
Words and Photos by Kelly Betterman
WHERE: 12 Franklin St, Adelaide