ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Among the many restaurants that have populated the CBD in recent years, Public Service is one of the most interesting. Not yet for its food, really, but for its possibilities. The building is the former headquarters of New Orleans Public Service, Inc. which for a long time supplied electricity, gas, and transit to everybody in New Orleans. When Entergy acquired the premises years ago, the place was left behind. In recent times, its sturdiness and location called out for a first-class hotel on the site, and here it is.
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
The transmogrification of the CBD from a density of office buildings to a collection of hotels makes eminent sense. The area is just a few blocks from the French Quarter and the Warehouse District, where the main restaurant and other hospitality businesses cluster. This is so rich a market that renovating the old NOPSI building could be afforded. The architects did a great job with the old place, particularly in the lobby that spills over from the front desk to the restaurant and bars. It is a busy place on weekday afternoons, where the place has attracted a young clientele.
The menu gets its sense of direction from the Millennial demographic. Plates in a wide variety from amuse-bouches through salads and substantial appetizers. A little at a time–the favorite dining style of the twenty-somethings–is encouraged both at the bar and in the dining room. Despite that apparent richness, Public Service has a surprisingly short menu. Only an assortment of steaks and a large hamburger keep it from feeling insubstantial.
The ground floor is expansive–so much so that if you ask for the location of the rest room, a member of the staff will offer to accompany you to the door. In the main lobby is a display of relics from NOPSI in its heyday–power bills, bus tokens and transfers, brochures about cooking and saving money on your electric bill. In a big old room in the back, you can see where transformers were once repaired. There are at least two large bars making excellent cocktails.
Dishes marked with a » are recommended.
»Tasso Hushpuppies. Sweet corn, pimento, cheddah, honey cane syrup
»Black Bean Hummus. Roasted peppers, cilantro gremolata, sea salt crackers
Roasted Bone Marrow. Pickled shallot, radish, arugula, orange hearts, fennel pollen, grilled baguette
Chicken Fried Soft Shell Crab. Watermelon, blistered serrano, arugula, watermelon
»Steak Frites. Ribeye cap steak, Stilton butter, truffle steak fries, pickled onions
»Crab Gnocchi. Jumbo lump, orange hearts, green onion, pea, sheeps milk cheese
»Mushroom Pasta. Stone-roasted mushrooms, brussels sprouts, pea tendrils, smoked cauliflower cream
Public Burger. House grind, aioli, pork belly, avocado, butter lettuce, slice tomato
»Broiled Filet Mignon. Beef tenderloin filet, smoked onion Lyonnaise potatoes, charred asparagus, bordelaise
Whole Roasted Gulf Fish. Champagne agrodolce, popcorn rice
FOR BEST RESULTS
If the place seems to be crowded, consider coming another time.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The menu’s possibilities are pretty well exhausted by the time you’ve eaten your third meal here. In the months Public Service has been open, we’ve had very little expansion or improvement in the offerings.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Consistency -1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +1