The school-themed restaurant Public School 214 opens on January 29 in the West Village with enough scholastic puns to make you wish you had flunked out.
The restaurant held a pre-opening media event, allowing food writers to bring a guest and pretend it was just a regular night out, except that none of the food writers had to pay for someone to come along. That is a joke about the appeal of food writers. The menu was pre-determined, with signature dishes and beverages highlighted.
There were bacon-and-cheddar tots and kale Caesar salad; short ribs braised in Lakewood Temptress beer with the falling-apart texture of pot roast, served with horseradish mashed potatoes; and shrimp and grits flecked with white beans, served in their own ironstone skillet.
There was chicken with cornbread waffles, and an appetizer of miniature tuna tacos, with the shells made from won-ton skins. There were fish and chips served with mushy peas; and a poblano pepper filled with quinoa and diced vegetables. Burgers include versions made from beef, bison and lamb.
The restaurant boasts environmentally friendly materials (and an absence of plastic straws) that reflect its roots as a California-based concept. Even the decor has schoolhouse touches, such as encyclopedias and a rack of globes. A print on the wall by the bar shows a Dallas map highlighting the 214 area code.
According to a press release, this gastropub is chef-driven and it "delivers an education in the art of food and beer." The diner "will become a student in our energetic classroom-inspired culinary playground." Servers are called "teachers" who can make recommendations on pairing craft beer (there are 24 taps, 16 of which rotate). Happy hour is called "recess" — aww, must we go on? Ready yourself for another session: an Addison branch called Public School 972 will open in fall 2015.