Public Restaurant

489 Folsom St. @ 11th
San Francisco, CA 94103
phone: 415.552.3065
hours: Sun-Thurs, 5:30-10pm Fri-Sat 5:30-11pm
Califronia Cuisine
Full Bar

If you want to conduct a sociology experiment on how many parts hip, fast, competent, tasty, chic, confident, friendly and cool it takes to create the perfect mix of smooth home-style upscale, look no further. The folks who had something to do with Delfina and 42 degrees have combined their efforts to build it for you.

The Ambience:
Housed in an enormous semi-two story loft like building in the Folsom area that's suffered rapid business closings since the dot commie bust, Public has secured a great space. Dim lighting, excellent chill down tempo music and expensive furniture make you feel damn cool. The bar and lounge are on the first level, the tables are upstairs.

What's curious is that in their enormous space they've only set up about twelve tables, and ours was virtually on top of the people next to us. I still can't believe how crowded and claustrophobic this airy open restaurant made me feel.

The Menu:
They call it "comfort food" and "home-style" but there's definitely an air of Californian and experimental. Sure, there was fried chicken on the menu, but there also risottos, sugos, arugulas, pappardelles and pollentas. About $15 an entree. They have a small, excellent hand picked wine list as well.

The Food:
It was pretty good. I can't complain. I wasn't blown away by anything, but the flavors intermixed nicely and the portions were fair.

The Service:
They sure were beautiful and friendly, but there was something very pre-programmed and fake about them. Take Stepford service and mix it with Cool School.

She slipped though. When my dinner partner asked about the rabbit sugo, she said, "If you can get over the fact that you're eating rabbit, it's great." Excuse me? Inappropriate, baby, we're not at a Save the Animals convention.

Reservations: Pretty much necessary.

Overall: C
The place rubbed me the wrong way. I'm sure they're all that, but it didn't jive with me.

Reviewed : Jan 2004

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