04 April 2012

Guest review - Public, Brisbane CBD

I'll be honest, I have no ambition to be a food critic/reviewer. Frankly, the thought of publicly critiquing a chef is not my bag. I think that even the ones that may be having a bad night probably have a thing or twenty that they could teach me about the art of cooking.

However, I did get to go to a fabulous restaurant the other day with two wonderful friends, and we decided, as it is a new restaurant in a quieter end of Brisbane city, we wanted to shout to the people of Brisbane what a dining asset we have gained. So please let me introduce you to my dear friend and wonderful writer, Karyn Brinkley, my guest reviewer. I know you will enjoy.

Intimate lunch? Go Public
by Karyn Brinkley

Let me qualify my credentials up-front: I’m no food critic, and this is my first ever restaurant review. But I do love my food, and I eat at restaurants a lot. Mostly, the experiences blur into one another. I’d recently come to the conclusion that food is food is food.

And then I lunched at Public, at 400 George Street, Brisbane.

Forgive me if I end up sounding like a paid-up member of Public’s food fan club. I promise it’s not just the wine talking – although it was excellent. The list is comprehensive, interesting and high quality, and between the three of us, we put away a bottle of Tim Adams Pinot Gris. I have no idea if that was the right wine for the dishes we chose, but it was served promptly, and perfectly chilled, and it tasted consistently fresh and fruity, so I really don’t care. I do wish I’d ventured into the cocktail menu, but that can wait for another day.

The single-sheet menu was at first a little disconcerting. How could a single sheet provide much in the way of menu variety? My goodness. Public shows you how. 

Kentucky Fried Duck from Public
(photo: SRKitchen)

We started with Kentucky Fried Duck (a small plate, $22) which arrived with a small dish of Paris mash with duck jus. Delicately crumbed and spiced, no trace of grease to test my diet conscience, and as delectable a duck drumstick as I’ve tasted. A superb start which had my two lunch companions tweeting their friends. 

Cauliflower mac and cheese from Public
(Photo: SRKitchen)

Cauliflower mac and cheese followed (a small plate, $8), and the faintest hint of curry made this a surprisingly tasty and far-from-homely starter. Despite having declared myself a curry-hater from way back, I could happily have devoured the whole pot. 

Saltbush organic lamb shoulder with mint jus
(Photo: SRKitchen)

The piece de resistance was a saltbush organic lamb shoulder with mint jus, which arrived whole, aromatic and glistening. We argued over who should carve it, then discovered carving wasn’t necessary. When foodies talk about lamb falling off the bone, they’re talking about Public’s lamb shoulder. Generously portioned and priced for two people ($65 with your choice of two vegetable accompaniments), the three of us forced ourselves to finish it because there was no way any skerrick of lamb was going back to a kitchen rubbish bin. 

Lamb easily falling of the bone at Public
(Photo: SRKitchen)

For sides, we chose crusty potatoes with salt and vinegar – heaven in a bowl – and zucchini wild white, which turned out to be an elegant salad of finely sliced zucchini with mint, nasturtium flowers and pistachios, piquantly drizzled with passionfruit juice.

We were deliciously and comprehensively satiated. But not so much that we turned away from dessert ($16): the smoothest, most decadent chocolate marquis in a bed of coconut snow and topped with lime sorbet. Exquisite. 

chocolate marquis in a bed of coconut snow
 and topped with lime sorbet
(Photo: SRKitchen)

Ambience? With food this amazing, who notices the d├ęcor? But it’s sophisticated, contemporary, light and airy, quiet and relaxed. Service was very close to perfect, with the ever-attentive and friendly Bonnie timing the arrival of our various dishes to the table perfectly. Chef Damon Amos deserves congratulations for an innovative, inspiring and nevertheless hearty lunchtime menu.

Public is on level one, 400 George Street, Brisbane, at the end of town that’s not normally known for amazing cuisine. I have a feeling that’s about to change. Certainly, I’ll be back.


  1. It sounds like place I ought to visit. Great review! xx

  2. can't believe you managed all that at lunch :) do they do dinner?

  3. Oh we managed to fit it ALL in. So delicious. They are open for dinner as well.