Public's food is not as rustic (nor as haphazard) as some found at your typical tapas place.
Sophia Edwards
Published on July 07, 2013
Updated on October 04, 2017


On the first floor of the eye-catching 400 George St building, Public restaurant and bar is an obvious choice for post-five drinks. However, it is not the bevvies and bar snacks alone (though impressive) that have earned Public an AGFG Chef Hat Award in their first year of business.

Another Brisbane establishment to base their menu on the idea of shared plates, Public's food is not as rustic (nor as haphazard) as some of the food found at your typical tapas place. Though the dishes are simple (sometimes deceptively so), they are also delicate and finessed. Options like salt 'n' vinegar French fries; Texas brisket and flour tortillas with chilli sauce; saltbush lamb, caramelised onion and beans; and scallop, pumpkin and smoked Wagyu may sound heavy, but they are unexpectedly light and refreshing to taste. The pork belly, red lentils and apple is a particularly nice surprise. The KFD (Kentucky Fried Duck), however, is exactly what you hope it will be — salty, crunchy, rich meaty goodness.

If variety is not your priority and you would rather something a bit more substantial, then try one of the 'Big Plates', like the masterstock chicken with noodle salad and masterstock jus. Of course, the greater portion sizes are commensurate with the heftier prices. In line with the communal eating theme, the desserts too are easily shared, and with only three on the menu (alongside a cheese plate) there is no difficulty in sampling them all. Our pick is the cinnamon pudding with charcoal ice-cream.

By day Public is sunlit via the glass wall that takes up one entire side of the restaurant. At night, however, the space is incredibly dim. This is fine if you want a bit of mood lighting, but it does seem to make it a tad tricky for staff to see whether there is any food left in your bowl. Perhaps this economical use of electric lighting contributes to 400 George's 5 Star NABERS Energy rating.

It is not only for the sunlight for which you should consider a daytime visit to Public. A couple of months ago the restaurant began opening for breakfast — a logical development given their popularity and location. Duck egg, truffle and toast certainly doesn't sound like a bad way to start the day.


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