Monthly Archives: March 2015

Publico

After many months of anticipation, Publico finally opened its doors in the Delmar Loop. The designers of the restaurant completely transformed a former hair salon into a modern and artistic, yet comfortable space. As you walk in the front door, the wonderful smell of hickory and oak takes over your senses and you notice your eyes being drawn to the left side of the restaurant where several 3-D trees appear to emerge from the wall. There is a large bar in the middle of the restaurant and a kitchen in the back that is open to the dining area (which explains the great wood fire smell).

We arrived andPublico 1 were told that our table was not yet ready so we took a seat at the bar and ordered an original margarita and a mescal margarita. The mescal margarita differed from the original in that it is made with mezcal liquor instead tequila making it very smooth and more of a craft cocktail. I was starting to get frustrated after 40 minutes had passed from our reservation time but a table finally opened up and we were seated. Luckily, the long wait time was my only complaint of the night.

We were greeted by our lovely server, Sara, who was as upbeat and excited about the food as I was. I will warn you, Publico is not for those who shy away from bold flavors and aren’t willing to be open-minded. Although items such as lamb hearts and shredded duck gizzard are scattered about the menu, you will still find options such as guacamole, a wide variety of tacos, and grilled meats. We started with two small plates, the first being pinto beans. These flavorful beans were made with lamb drippings, mint, chives, queso fresco and were served in a metal cup with a masa cake on the side. The second dish was the cobia crudo served with ginger, lime, sweet potato, and truffle. The fish was incredibly fresh and it had a spicy kick which I really enjoyed.

I opted for street tacos for dinner. They are small, come two to an order, and are served with house-made corn tortillas. First up were the fish tacos. These took me completely by surprise as they are made with smoked white fish that, as the description suggests, pack a huge smoky flavor. They were topped with jalapeno cream cheese, cilantro, and crispy shallots which gave it the texture it needed. Next up were the Hongos tacos (Spanish for mushroom) topped with cucumber, radish, goat cheese crema, and huitlacoche. These were amazing, I just wish the shell had been a bit bigger to hold all of the filling. Publico’s tacos were fantastic and in my opinion, they are the first in St. Louis that stand up to Mission Taco. Based on the recommendation of our server, my husband ordered the pork shoulder seasoned with lime, sesame, and brown sugar. This lean cut of meat was seared and crisp on the outside and tender in the middle. His only disappointment was that the dish was served with nothing besides a lime wedge. We were thinking about ordering dessert but decided to go for a second order of Hongos tacos and we were not disappointed.

The restaurant really seems to be about options. The bar is large and comfortable enough to spend your evening having drinks and small plates or you can opt for a table to enjoy a more formal meal. The wide range of pricing allows you to have a less expensive meal of tacos or celebrate an occasion with larger plates. Unique menu items will push you out of your comfort zone if you are feeling adventurous but allow you to kick back with an appetizer if guacamole is what you prefer. Despite the 40 minute wait (with a reservation), I loved my experience at Publico and will definitely be back for more.

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The Shaved Duck

The Shaved Duck 6What appears to be a hidden gem from the outside is actually a restaurant that everyone in town seems to know about. The Shaved Duck was completely packed, even on a Friday during Lent when it seems many people would shy away from a restaurant that prides itself on BBQ. We pushed our way in the door where we began our hour and a half wait for a table. We managed to get a drink while we waited and we were able to follow our wait on the NoWait app (although you are not able to reserve a place in line ahead of time). When we were just reaching our limit of standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers, dishes of much appreciated, seasoned popcorn were brought out and placed at the bar for everyone to munch on.

We were finally seated in the dining room which had a great, energetic vibe. We looked over the menu and decided on appetizers to share between our table of four. First up was the buttermilk cornbread served in a skillet with a side of honey butter which the menu stated would take 15 minutes to prepare. However, it arrived in no less than 5 minutes, barely warm, and slightly dried out which can only mean that it had been sitting there a while. The sweet glaze on top and butter definitely helped but in the end, it was only average. Our second appetizer was the smothered fries which were featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. They were topped with rib and pork meat, white cheese sauce, and sharp cheddar. I really enjoyed the white cheese sauce verses the typical nacho cheese you find at most places and the plate was perfect for four people to share. While the fries were good, I can’t say I was blown away by them.


I had the shrimp and grits for my entrée. This hearty bowl of rich and creamy grits was topped with five large shrimp and while there were no frills about it, the dish was delicious. We also had the chance to sample one of the four chilies on the menu. We ordered the ancho beef as a chili mac meaning that the chili is served over a bowl of macaroni and cheese creating a dish that is definitely large enough to be ordered as an entrée. This was the least spicy of the chilies and was definitely manageable (the spiciest is served with a glass of milk). After hearing about the house-smoked meats and homemade sausage and meatloaf, two sampler platters were ordered at our table. The first had pulled pork, pulled chicken, and mac and cheese while the second had meatloaf, pulled pork, and burnt ends. While both plates were completely licked clean, the burnt ends were voted to be the favorite and the meatloaf was said to be “better than moms” (sorry Mrs. E.).

Just when I thought I could not eat another bite, we managed to be temped with dessert. After all, who can resist Samoa white chocolate pretzel bread pudding? Unfortunately, it was a little dry and we all agreed that the gooey butter brownie might have been a better option.

While there were parts of our meal that I didn’t love and the wait was less than desirable, I understand why the restaurant is bursting at the seams. The atmosphere and energy of the restaurant make for a really great dining experience. It is evident that a lot of time has gone into creating a menu full of thoughtful comfort food that keeps people coming back.

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