Run by a husband and wife team Public is an expansive café/bar that fronts Franklin Street. It has a warm, industrial style fit out, welcoming staff and a menu focusing on simple but vibrant flavours.
One of the most notable qualities of the space was the ambience. Café dining usually comes with the sound of crashing plates and cutlery and a permeating chatter that makes it difficult to hear the person next to you. Despite being three quarters full and the midst of the lunch rush during our visit, it was pleasantly quiet and easy to converse. Far too rare these days it was a very pleasant change.
We started with the Pork Rillette. Shredded pork meat covered in a thyme port jelly. A bowl of crisp lavosh accompanied the dish. The pork was quite tasty but lacking in punch. The menu quoted thyme as an ingredient but I was unable to detect any. It was sweet but missing some vibrancy from fresh herbs and it became quite monotonous to eat.
Starters were stepped up when we tried the House Made Citrus Cured Salmon. A slice of bright coral coloured salmon sits in the middle of a simple white plate – the dish all the decoration that is needed. Curled leaves of frisee lettuce, other salad leaves and paper thin slices of radish circle the outside. Dots of pickled onion jelly are an imaginative way to bring a fresh acidic component. Horseradish foam is layered over the fish giving it a kick. The salmon itself – cured in citrus has a silky texture and tastes fresh and bright.
Of the delicious sounding main course options we selected the Ballantine of Chicken cooked in hay. The rolled chicken thigh was juicy and dense. It was covered in a chicken jus that had a velvety, almost sticky texture that gave a wonderful rich quality to the chicken. The ballantine was plated with a bold sweet corn puree, charred leek and cauliflower. The purple cauliflower florets had been roasted to the point they retained a significant crunch. As moreish as a bowl of chips I could eat a whole bowl of them. A complete, hearty meal, every element of this dish was delicious, rich and satisfying, marring well together making a great main course.
Our food took over 30 minutes to arrive at our table. Perhaps this is because we requested all dishes to come out at once and the chicken took some time to cook through. It was a long wait for cafe dining and had me wondering how suitable the venue is for those with a limited lunch break. Perhaps sticking with a selection of the smaller plates that seem to be designed around a smaller preparation time would be the key.
Words by Kate Wilkinson
WHERE: 12 Franklin St, Adelaide