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Publik Restaurant Midtown, Atlanta, GA Review

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A group of eight of us did the dinner and a show thingy when Phantom of the Opera was in it’s last run at the Fox Theatre. My old standbys within walking distance of the Fox, Pleasant Pheasant and Mick’s, now closed, I had quite the dilemma. Where can we eat that’s close to the Fox? I found that we had about 2 choices if we didn’t want to break the bank – Baronda or Publik. Rumored to be somewhat of a Gastropub, I chose the latter for our group. And well into the first act of Phantom I was still kicking myself for my choice that evening.

Publik has taken the space of the old bar, Bazzar. It is literally right next door the Fox Theatre. You could not ask for a closer location. You could ask for better food and service, though. I guess the proprietors don’t feel the need to deliver either, as they have somewhat of a captive audience. FYI Publik – just having a good beer selection, doesn’t excuse mediocre food and poor service.

Their online menu lists beer and cocktails, neither or which are current, along with Publik’s food menu. At the time of this post, Publik’s online food menu consists of 4 appetizers, 2 salads, 5 sandwiches, and 5 entrees. Not exactly like opening a T.G.I. Friday’s menu. While it was limited, it seemed there would be something for everyone, especially one guest in particular who was dieting, requiring a small portion of (not fried) protein. Called and made a reservation for eight people for six o’clock the next day, thinking that would be plenty of time before our 8 pm show. So far, so good.

We arrived, at 6:15, and even though we were slightly late they had our upstairs table ready. We were handed a “drink menu” and out of all of us only one had the cocktail menu printed on the reverse side. The others were strictly beer. Not matching anything I saw online, I ordered the ‘Publik Domain’ which, as it turns out, is a fancy name for a Whiskey Sour.

From here, things just went downhill. We were presented with a very limited menu. And you though it couldn’t get more limited than what I described above? For apps, you can choose from chicken or beef skewers, Garden, Ceasar, or Cobb Salad, Crab Cakes or a Charcuterie plate. For mains choices are a Burger, Fish n’ Chips, Ribeye, Chicken Piccata or Vegetable Ratatouille. Nowhere on Publik’s website is there any indication that there is a limited menu on certain nights. Had I known this, I would definitely chosen to dine elsewhere.

Publik Dining Room Before Fox Show:

I asked our server what’s up with the extremely limited menu and she said Publik does that on nights that there are shows at the Fox, otherwise they “can’t keep up with getting all the orders out when the restaurant is full.” WTF? Isn’t there always a show at the Fox? Um…if you can’t handle the crowd maybe you shouldn’t situate yourself right next door to the Fox Theatre.

Since it was relatively early still, 6:30, I begged her to just let us order off of the regular menu to no avail. We were SOL and stuck with the limited, limited menu. She did mention 2 specials – Tuna Burger, and Shrimp and Grits which seemed to appease the group slightly. The Publik server seemed to be pushing for us to order, as if there was some rush to turn the table over. Three of us ordered the Tuna Burger, while others ordered the Cobb Salad, Chicken Piccata, and Shrimp and Grits.

Publik Tuna Burger

I had lusty thoughts for my Ahi tuna BLT from Bocado (seriously that could be a contender for my last meal on earth – it is one orgasmic sandwich) but Publik’s version is like it’s retarded brother – definitely not on par. Tuna burger special was cooked too much. It was completely bland, I could barely taste anything. It not only needs to be cooked less but needs some sort of sauce to liven it up. If Publik bills itself as a Gastropub, then they need to get more creative with sauces. I would have expected more than merely ketchup as a dipping sauce for my fries.

The Cobb Salad was pretty and certainly not lacking in the meat department, but not worth the $11 price tag. The Chicken Piccata was pretty tasty and the artichoke risotto had a great flavor, albeit quite salty. One of my friends didn’t get her Shrimp and Grits until nearly all of us were done with our meals. I suspect our quite frazzled incompetent server forgot to put in the order, but I can’t be sure. At that point, her meal should have been comped. We didn’t ask, it’s just the right thing to do with such poor service (I’m leaving out some other details – snippy attitude, etc, etc). They didn’t offer to comp the meal by the way.

Publik Shrimp and Grits

After my friend wolfed down her dinner so as not to keep us from being late, we asked for the check, since our server wasn’t going to offer us dessert although we saw other tables getting some. Server said she couldn’t really do separate checks. Somebody please explain to me, why, with all the technology we have, having separate checks is such a hard thing to do.

After being gone for 20 minutes she finally came back with our checks split up properly. Another friend was getting her cash out and our server (pretty impatient at this point) asked her to get her money together so she could ring everyone up at the same time. I fully expected the downstairs to be packed with theatre-goers, trying to settle up before the curtain rose. But I’ll be damned, the place was nearly empty. I’m absolutely befuddled that in this very competitive market, a restaurant with such lackluster food and sloppy service can stay open. Oh yeah – Location, Location, Location….

654 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, GA 30308
404 885 7505

Publik Draft House on Urbanspoon

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