Since my initial notations on Publik Social House and Bocado, I’ve made multiple return trips to both. Unfortunately, things weren’t as good on subsequent visits in either case. Keep reading for details on these two new Atlanta dining options.
Publik Social House
After having a very tasty duck confit panini on my first visit, I decided to explore the somewhat diminutive menu. As a note, diminutive is not a bad thing – a tightly controlled menu can often be refreshingly simple.
From the apps section, we decided to check out the fried oysters with spicy aioli. The aioli lacked any real flavor and was anything but spicy. The oysters were even worse. Somehow, they were flattened out and shaped into 3-D rectangles. They had been overcooked and this was particularly noticeable given the thickness of the batter.
We also sampled the grilled chicken panini. Neither of us finished our portion as the chicken was full of parts and bathed in oil. The provolone cheese held no flavor, the basil was nowhere to be found, and if there was prosciutto on my sammy – I sure as heck didn’t notice it. Bland tomatoes didn’t help the cause. However, the bread was as good as my initial offering from a few weeks back.
As disappointing as this was, I’m still not scared away. Further tastings are needed to determine whether the restaurant is closer to the excitement of my duck confit panini or the desolate blah of my grilled chicken panini. Meanwhile, the portions are quite appropriate given the price point.
This place has quickly gone from reasonably passable to downright infuriating. My initial concerns with the place were centered around the H&F Bread, which they had sat on for far too long. This was not the case with my second sandwich there – so that’s good. Glad to see they aren’t letting such delicious bread go to waste. However, my one dinner there to date was just horrendous.
To mix things up, we took down an order of the risotto with braised veal cheek, the chicken liver spread, the shrimp and grits, and an order of the gnocchi. The risotto was a partial success. The veal cheek was supple and properly fired; unfortunately, everything else about the dish was a major fail. For a dish to be considered a true risotto, it needs to be creamed. This was simply cooked rice floating in a sauce. The texture was too al dente and the saffron and scallion flavor I searched for was drowned out by the included cheese.
The chicken liver spread was perhaps the best value of the evening. The toast, which appeared to be a sliced baguette, was crisped on the outside and soft on the inside. Layered on top was a thin coating of the pâté. Anyone who has had chopped liver, a very common Jewish preparation, will find this easy to get used to. The livers has been sufficiently ground down leaving the spread very creamy. Meanwhile, a distinct sweetness arose from each bite.
The shrimp and grits had potential, but ultimately fell flat. The grits were from Logan Turnpike Mill. This gave me great hope for the dish. As luck would have it, the grits were overdone – not an easy thing to do. The shrimp were overcooked and the white-wine Tabasco sauce was far too meek to drive me home. While many may find the muted inclusion of the Tabasco, it was far too reserved.
Last, and unfortunately least was the gnocchi. You need not get beyond the kale and the gnocchi themselves to find the failures of this dish. The gnocchi fell apart at even the slightest application of pressure. They might as well have been called mashed potatoes in tube form. The kale was completely sour, having been over cooked by quit a bit. The butter lemon sauce tasted more like butter and lemon than any cohesive liquid concoction while the soffritto seemed like overkill.
On the plus side, the wine menu does have some nice values on it; but, the cocktail menu gave me one heck of a fleecing, so much so that I’d say it may be the worst value in the city. My vodka drink, while full of fresh ingredients, was a success only in the fact that it tasted like I should have expected. At $10, this slightly oversized shot was offensively priced.
All in, the three small plates and one entrée, one $10 beverage, and two $7 glasses of wine brought the bill to a whopping $75.00. While service here has been quite good, I couldn’t imagine recommending Bocado with places like La Pietra Cucina around. There, you might have a less pleasing experience with the service, but the food is far better and a meal will cost you just about the same. The food was bad, the prices were way high, and the two of us made a beeline for Abattoir just as soon as we could get the check.