by Mabel Suen
Público (6679 Delmar Boulevard; 314-833-5780), the latest concept from restaurateur Mike Randolph of Half & Half, opened on March 4 in the Delmar Loop just doors down from his Neapolitan-style pizza joint, the Good Pie. The self-proclaimed taberna features a Latin-American inspired menu of handcrafted cocktails and food, utilizing an oak-burning hearth to cook up spit-roasted meats and more. The concept takes nods from Randolph's former restaurants, MEDIAnoche and Little Country Gentleman, offering refined, artfully presented plates.
"It's a different thing. The wood, the ambiance sets us apart. We're not trying to become a turn-and-burn taco joint. We're trying to be someplace that people can come in and maybe get a good piece of meat, fish," he told Gut Check in an interview last year. "But if they do get tacos, they're going to get 'em roasted by hand, by wood in our custom hearth."
The menu begins with a few crudo options including oysters ($5-$24), and it continues with a selection of small plates. Choose from dishes including beets ($7.50) served with quinoa and white-chocolate mole; octopus ($11) with olive mojo and paprika; and lamb tartare ($10) with arbol, mint, cilantro, egg and puffed rice.
From the arepas (leavened corn "pancake") section, select from toppings including lamb-liver butter, smoked Cornish hen and shredded duck gizzard. Tacos (two for $6.50) come served on housemade corn tortillas, ground and pressed from corn imported from Uruapan, Mexico. Options include smoked white fish, pork and pineapple, lamb shoulder and grilled flank steak.
Entrees grilled on the hearth include prawns ($14) with smoked jalapeno and mango; a rib-eye cap ($15) with chimichurri; lamb hearts ($13) with blackberry; and half a Cornish hen ($15) with oyster mushrooms and chimichurri. A drink menu includes classic daiquiris and margaritas, Mexican-infused house cocktails, white and red wines, a selection of beer, horchata and agua frescas.
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