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Dining Review: Public House in Naples

High notes abound through familiar rustic dishes at restaurateur Michael Hernandez’s latest spot



The Korean short ribs with spicy potato and kimchee sofrito proved a crowd-pleasing entree.

Vanessa Rogers

 

When a duo of exceptional local restaurants gains a third establishment, there’s call for rejoicing. So rejoice away, fans of Naples’ HobNob Kitchen & Bar and MidTown Kitchen + Bar, because Public House—from the same owner and executive chef—arrived earlier this year in North Naples. (Editor's Note 7/7/17: MidTown Kitchen + Bar has closed.)

On the night of my recent dinner, the server described the food as “creative American fare,” and the menu at Public House will feel familiar to those who know HobNob and MidTown. Each restaurant includes the same three signature dishes—deviled eggs with candied bacon, octopus and white beans, and sweet chili fried calamari—as well as cool, contemporary design (here, concert posters and vinyls double as wallpaper and art).

For this particular dinner, my friends and I began with the blackened mahi mahi tostadas ($12, pictured) and the octopus and white beans ($13). The tostadas arrived with generous portions of fish topped with corn, black beans and a roasted tomato and avocado salsa, and the octopus and white beans were dressed with lemon, olive oil and garlic. The dishes were straightforward and above all tasted fresh.

For our main courses, we selected roasted chicken marinated in a beer and fennel brine ($24), lemongrass-encrusted salmon ($28) and the Korean short ribs ($28). The roast chicken was notably moist with a perfectly crisp skin, though my friend would have preferred a bit more seasoning. But the goat cheese polenta that accompanied the dish—both surprising and satisfying—more than made up for it. The salmon dish was also prepared exceptionally well, though it, too, could have benefitted from an extra punch of flavor. My short ribs, however—fork-tender and served with a spicy kimchee sofrito—produced a big reaction. As I passed around bites for my friends to taste, they made satisfied noises of appreciation.

“That’s outstanding,” one said, and the other nodded enthusiastically.

The desserts were noteworthy as well. We ordered the sugar doughnuts ($8, pictured) with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces and the B-52 cake ($8) made from three layers of chocolate ganache and a combination of Kahlua, Grand Marnier and bourbon.

Perhaps the brightest star of the evening? The cocktails. Many fine restaurants in this area have embraced the craft cocktail trend, but Public House does them particularly well. My Creekside 75 ($9), made from Malfy gin, blood orange and lime juices, simple syrup and prosecco, was both sophisticated and deceptively easy to drink, while my friend’s Naples Fashion ($10), the Public House take on an old fashioned, incorporated chocolate syrup, and it was the best version I’ve ever tasted.

Public House delivers exactly what it promises—classic fare with creative and compelling twists. With HobNob and MidTown not far away, diners now have three remarkable venues to choose from.

1514 Immokalee Road, Naples, 239-542-2224, publichouseofnaples.com. Open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wheelchair-accessible. No reservations.

 

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