Public Kitchen & Bar Review: An L.A. Eatery ‘For the People’

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The legendary Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel has been a L.A. landmark since 1927, having hosted the first-ever Academy Awards and still serving as a playground for tinsel town’s A-team.  Fun-loving gastronomes like me also flock to the locale for another reason: Public Kitchen & Bar.

 

Situated on the iconic hotel’s ground floor just off lobby area, Public Kitchen & Bar is a see-and-be-seen spot serving up eclectic American fare courtesy of Executive Chef Tim Goodell. Having opened for business in February 2011 in the space that previously housed Dakota, this restaurant and bar duly harkens Old Hollywood but with a decidedly hip, provincial and comfortable sensibility – a formula that is working as evidenced by the persistently full house of patrons most evenings, including the evening of my recent visit.

The décor at Public Kitchen & Bar is rustic and reminiscent of a 1920’s dining hall, with a grand dining room rife with commanding butcher block tables, dark woods, leather booths, and roomy diamond-tufted banquettes.  Adding an elegant and intimate feel are opalescent marble tiles and twinkling table lights in mason jars. 

The interior design also includes grand ironwork chandeliers amber glass lighting that accents a restored ceiling mural uncovered during the restaurant’s renovation process.  Rounding out the space are interesting décor items like chalk boards outlining menu items, and some personal touches, such as caricatures from frequent Hollywood Roosevelt guests, black and white photos from Chef Goodell’s family, and kitchen heirlooms.

Delicious food, tasty libations, and premier people-watching prevail at this dinner-only establishment. Priced and democratically themed with the idea that everything is “for the people” and should be easily accessible, this righteous restaurant offers up comfort food favorites alongside new Arcadian additions, with many served in cast iron dishes.

Be sure to start this experience with to-die-for-fresh Parker House baked rolls with Vermont creamery butter served piping hot in a small baking pan. Incredible. With all pretention checked at the door, Public Kitchen & Bar feels like going to a dinner party at a friend’s house or coming home to a great family-style meal.

For groups who like to graze, Public Kitchen & Bar offers a number of items perfect for sharing. Ours opted for the rich and decadent Mushroom Tart – a flaky shortcrust pastry topped with tellagio cheese and arugula. Other items great for sharing are the Oysters with Meyer lemon and tarragon mignonette; Chickpea and Three Cheese Fritters with zatar aioli; Chicharrones with chili and lime; and a selection of Country Hams and Cured Meats.

Small plate appetizers on the menu also tantalize, including my table’s choice of Diver Scallops with zucchini risotto and Mint mascarpone; Charred Octopus with potatoes tossed in a tomato-coriander vinaigrette and Neapolitan Meatballs with sugo, pine nuts and currants.

The scallops and risotto was cooked to perfection and the combined flavor profile was impeccable.  The chilled octopus was the most tender I’ve had, while the meatballs – a combination of lamb and beef – with sugo sauce was robust, well-balanced and entirely satisfying. Other great app options include the Oxtail Galette topped with a poached farm egg and frisée; and Pastrami Cured Salmon with bagel, crème fraiche and pickled red onions.

Public Kitchen & Bar entrées, all priced under $30, are equally enticing. My party ordered the Colorado Lamb T-Bone, a lean lamb loin served with seasoned confetti cauliflower; along with the Spice Duck Steak Leg Confit with to-die-for caramelized turnips; and a Black Sea Bass with little neck clams served in a chili oil-spiced broth on special that evening. In close contention were the Duroc Pork Schnitzel with arugula salad; and the Pancetta Wrapped Monkfish with roasted onion and potato puree. 

Diners can also sample more adventurous offerings from the restaurant’s Blackboard Specials including Trotter and Black Truffle Sausage with crispy potatoes and cavatelli; and Lamb Bolognese with Bellwether Farms ricotta.

Public Kitchen & Bar’s burger and prime steak selections have carnivores chomping at the bit. Try the 16 oz. Prime New York Strip; 10 oz. Prime Filet the filet; or Cote d Boeuf with marrow bones for 2.    The burger here is epic, served with lettuce, tomato, onion, 4-year aged cheddar, bacon, roasted tomato jam, hatch green chili and roasted mushrooms.

Order this with a side of hand-cut Kennebec fries for your personal slice of Heaven.  Other sublime sides available to pair with any meal are tomatoes roasted on the vine, roasted onion and potato puree, parsley potatoes, roasted wild mushrooms, and buttered English peas.

If by some miracle you still have room for dessert, there are a number of great menu options. My party chose the Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé for 2, served piping hot alongside velvety vanilla bean crème anglaise. This insanely decadent dessert takes 20 minutes to prepare, so order accordingly.

Other delicious meal endings include Cheese Blintzes with mountain huckleberries, Coupe Denmark with hot sipping chocolate, Warm Berliners filled with seasonal marmalade and Chocolate and Butterscotch Puddings.  For 2, consider the Passionfruit and Lime Trifle with Chambord macerated berries or the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie topped with rhubarb vanilla bean ice cream.

Food aside, this locale is also a popular watering hole. On one side of the restaurant prominently sits The Library Bar - an expansive marbled presence along with a large liquor display. It features a wide array of clever specialty cocktails, a list of over 100 bottles of wine, draft and bottled beers, and a menu of cured meats and cheeses, oysters, and small plates to share.

Try a Spiced Cucumber Collins that, while fresh and light, also delivers a Shoshito pepper kick The “It’s All Good” is sweet and tart, concocted of Skyy Vodka, Domaine de Canton, mint and a splash of soda.

I’m pleased to welcome Public Kitchen and Bar to Los Angeles’ cuisine scene where Chef Goodell can duly showcase his classic, home-spun menu amid warm and stylish décor and kinetic Hollywood atmosphere.

Public Kitchen & Bar is located inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Learn more online at http://www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/la/hollywood-roosevelt/eat/public-kitchen-and-bar.

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