Real dining in a food court? Believe it. Public takes out a large space at the top of an escalator right next to one. When the place opened in 2012, staff outnumbered patrons and founders Tom Sanceau and Bonnie Shearston (Red Hook, Coppa Spuntino) wondered if the risk would pay off. It did - Public became a huge hit, the duo eventually selling the restaurant to overseas investors in 2015.
Dining here is fun and playful with plates designed for sharing, yet Public has a sense of finesse and sophistication. The salmon ceviche comes with black ants and the steak tartare with worms. Elsewhere there's scallops with peas and speck; lamb, freekah and labne; and Jamaican jerk chicken. But the signature item remains the KFD, or Kentucky fried duck, a dish created by former head chef Damon Amos (now of Detour) from a recipe based on his mother's.
At the bar, there’s an extensive list of Australian, New Zealand, French and Italian wines, with a good selection available by the glass, and a lengthy cocktail list.