Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Public: Opening up the Roosevelt Lobby

Public Kitchen & Bar Dining Room
The main lobby in the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel is one of the more dramatic spaces in town, yet for years it has been neglected and sat largely empty as there was nothing to drive energy to it.  Library Bar is small and off to the side and entrance to Teddy's is nothing but discreet.  Now the newly launched Public Kitchen & Bar has opened up the space both literally and figuratively to provide a needed focal point and locus of energy.  The restaurant, from Chef Tim Goodell, is in the former Dakota location, although this restaurant suits the location and the times much more than the steakhouse ever did.

Pineapple Express
The bar faces both the lobby and the restaurant and offers a dozen classic and classically inspired cocktails for $9, a bargain in this setting and neighborhood.  On a recent visit I enjoyed the Spiced Cucumber Collins with Hendrick's Gin, lime juice, shishito pepper, cucumber and mint.  The gin was the forward flavor element in the cocktail and the Hendrick's paired well with cucumber.

You cannot go to Public without ordering a round of the Parker House Rolls ($5), which come in a set of six and arrive with Vermont Creamery butter.  They are Chef Goodell's grandmother's recipe and are wonderfully fluffy and light.  These set the tone for the restaurant: well executed, delicious, American and unpretentious.

Burrata with bagnet vert and cherry tomatoes is marvelously creamy.  My tablemates and I did not let even a spoonful go to waste.  The kitchen appears to love mason jars with hinged lids as the burrata, the pickles and the chicken liver terrine all came in them.  I found them to be a fun playful touch that speak to the use of the chef's grandma's recipes and traditions.
The House Pickled Seasonal Vegetables ($6) are crunchy and vinegary and go beyond the standard pickled cucumbers.  The Chicken Liver Terrine ($14) is served with a kumquat marmalade and grilled rustic bread.  This dish defines decadent.  The layer of red wine gelee on top of the chicken liver only enhances the richness of the dish, which I was not shy about eating.  The marmalade is served in a white oval dish that when filled resembles an egg with the yolk in the middle.

The Cured and Smoked Salmon ($10) is a light appetizer that is served with a fingerling potato salad and finished with yuzu juice.  The fish is silky in texture and not too smoky; an appetizer that lives up to the promise of whetting your appetite.

Another popular appetizer at my table (yes, we were very hungry) was the Potato and Three Cheese Fritters with basil aioli.  The fritters are miraculously crisp on the exterior and melty on the interior.  Even if you are tempted to order them just to have an excuse to say the word "fritter" do so.  These little guys are best eaten warm; not that you'd let them get cold.

The Crispy Oxtail Gallette ($9) with a poached farm egg and frisee is like shredded short ribs with a beautifully run egg on top.  This dish (unpictured) hits two of my sweet spots in one: secondary meats and runny eggs.  The galette is not for the faint of heart but it stops short of being too much.  Don't be afraid and go for it.  I bet you'll be eating it with as much gusto as I did.

A special of a Foie Gras and Duck Sausage was ravenously set upon by our table as if we had not eaten any of the previous dishes.  I can't divulge too much about this dish, except that it didn't last long.

Now when it comes to dessert, it better be worth it.  The duo of Chocolate and Butterscotch Puddings ($8) delivered.  The butterscotch wasn't afraid of venturing over to the savory side with a healthy dose of salt and the vanilla bean cream was a luxurious touch on top of each.

The Valhrona Chocolate Souffle ($8) is a way to end your meal in style.  Nothing quite says celebration like a souffle (and some bubbly), so get both and toast to your good fortune.

Public is a fun restaurant that makes tasty food in a beautiful environment in a cool hotel for way less money than you would expect.  Cocktails are only $9, appetizers are $6 - $13 and mains are $14 - $26 (except the steak category which are $34 - $75 for the cote d boeuf for two).  The room is great, the food delicious, the service professional and as a bonus when you are done with dinner you can get a cocktail at the Library Bar or at the new Spare Room upstairs.

The only weak point I found was that the cocktails often read better on paper than they tasted in my glass.  If Goodell and company raise the caliber of the cocktails to that of the food and the room then they can't go wrong.  As it is, I feel confident recommending Public.  The Hollywood Roosevelt finally has a restaurant worthy of the public spaces of the hotel.  If you go, please report back.

All food and beverage on my visit were hosted.

Public Kitchen & Bar: 7000 Hollywood Blvd (in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel).  Phone: (323) 466-7000.  Website: http://www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/la/hollywood-roosevelt/eat/public-kitchen-and-bar


  1. $9 is my kind of price point for a cocktail. Sign me up for some of those rolls!

  2. Six rolls is enough to share. Everything including the cocktails was very fairly priced.