Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Public House at San Francisco’s AT&T Park

Des Jardins Scales Down for Sports Fans
24 Willy Mays Plaza (at 3rd Street), San Francisco
China Basin
PH: 415.644.0240
Open daily, 4 to 11 p.m. (open for lunch during day games)
No reservations, major credit cards accepted

One of the newest food options during the San Francisco Giants’ new baseball season is also the most prominent: the revamping of the old Acme Chophouse.

I never got a chance to check out Acme, which was created by esteemed local chef Traci des Jardins when the new stadium opened up 10 years ago. During the off-season when the Giants were getting ready in Scottsdale, Ariz., Chef des Jardins did some spring training of her own and refurbished her space at the entrance of AT&T Park and created two concepts in one — a small version of her Mexican spot Mijita from the Ferry Building and a new gastropub called Public House.

I checked out Public House with my fellow baseball friend Ken. We decided to go while the Giants were on the road so as to avoid the probable madhouse when they’re in town.

Public House definitely garnered most of the space post-renovation (leaving the brightly colored Mijita to one side), with its 22 flat-screen TVs and huge display of metal beer barrels at the center bar. We arrived early because the Giants was playing in Florida with a 4 p.m. game start, so by the time I got there after work, it was already the sixth inning.

First I had to decide what to drink. Public House, as you can imagine, has a nice long list of beer by the draft. I asked our waitress, who was superb the entire night, about the IPA listings, which turned out to be beer from small, independent makers. Apparently they have more of a distinct hop flavor, so I went with the Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA from Healdsburg.

For the food, you can imagine that there were a lot of deep-fried goodness. Ken didn’t need much convincing as he ordered the Pacific Cod Fish and Chips ($12). Along with his fish and chips, he asked for some malt vinegar, which he used as a dip.

Public House also has an extensive list of specialty hot dogs and sausages, but I was tempted by the daily specials. Every day of the week there’s a specified special, and on this day it was Baby Back Ribs ($18). (FYI: Buttermilk fried chicken day is Sundays.)

But before my ribs arrived, I got a Romaine Salad ($6.50). Looking at the picture, you might think this is a Caesar salad, but it wasn’t because there was no parmesan cheese or creamy dressing. Instead, this was like a Caesar-lite salad because it had a lemon anchovy vinaigrette. I thought this was a nice, healthy alternative.

My ribs arrived with homemade potato chips that I let Ken enjoy since I don’t eat deep-fried foods. There was also a small portion of cole slaw that was very light and made fancy with some frisee greens. The ribs themselves were falling off the bone, but they weren’t sticky wet and leaned more toward the dry-rub version of BBQ ribs. I totally enjoyed them.

For some reason, I felt the urge to order a side of German potato salad ($4) because I felt potato salad just has to go with ribs. The potato salad was also a light version with an olive oil and vinegar dressing instead of mayonnaise. There were also bits of bacon for extra flavor.

By now, the Giants clinched their sweep of the Marlins, so Ken and I could focus on our food. (It is kind of hard to talk and watch a game at the same time.) Public House doesn’t offer much dessert and instead offers cookies from Anthony’s Cookies and ice cream from Humphry Slocombe, two popular Mission district eateries.

Ken never tried Humphry Slocombe before, so he ordered one scoop each of the classic Secret Breakfast and Chocolate smoked salt. I ordered the Acme Butterscotch Pudding ($7) because I love butterscotch pudding!

The pudding was actually quite a large bowl, and the texture mingled between creamy and thick, depending on where I hit it in the bowl. Overall it was a nice balance of sweetness.

Side note: You can actually order food from the Mijita side and bring it over to the Public House section to eat. The only Mijita items on the Public House menu are the nachos ($8).

The service was especially friendly, from the bartenders to our waitress. (Although the bus boys were a bit too eager to take away our plates; maybe because it was such a slow night?) Not sure what it would be like on game day, but maybe that’s another argument for checking out this friendly spot during away games.

While the menu isn’t extensive, the atmosphere and service are a home run for the sports enthusiasts. Public House is a smart addition to the area.

Single guy rating: 3.5 stars (Comfortable yet tasty)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:

1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

Public House and Mijita on Urbanspoon


Cookie said...

We actually checked out Public House last Sunday and love it! We just ordered some appetizers and the prices were really impressive! My favorite were the Jalapeno Poppers that had a really nice kick to them but I know you don't eat fried foods. :)

Hungry Dog said...

I didn't even know about this place and now I must go! Sounds like a fun vibe and the food looks incredible.