Eatery - Public House (CA)

Public House on Urbanspoon

41971 Main St, Temecula, CA 92590
Pricing - $$/$$$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - New American, Gastropub

We had never been to Temecula before but finally made a trip out one weekend (well...half of one since we were mainly there Saturday). There were other meals planned so we had just one restaurant to take on at our own cost and needed to choose wisely. Wisely, of course, meant asking the masses so we finally decided to come to Public House because it came recommended and was in gastropub fashion. When we came up for Saturday lunch, it was apparent the place was popular. There was a wait time for both the indoor and outdoor seating so we opted for outdoors and waited for our names to be called. It wasn't too long of a wait either, and the staff was quite nice.

We were seated on raised stools along a stone bar-like structure. I wouldn't call it a bar exactly only because there wasn't any wall or actual bar buttressing it. It was just on the raised level of the outdoor seating area and in front of their outdoor fireplace. It was a neat arrangement. To whet our throats, I chose from their list of specialty cocktails and got the Russian Republic ($10 - 12 oz of Maker's Mark, lime juice fresh ginger and mint finished with housemade ginger beer), a drink that we both actually didn't find all too palatable. It was not well-balanced being too limey. My mouth started salivating as I remembered the way that you salivate thinking about sour foods. For him, a local Temecula brewery was of interest so he went for the Refuge Refugee Tripel at 9% ABV ($9.25), a fair Belgian that held our interest a little longer than the cocktail.

I'm a big fan of just getting smaller plates so two appetizers and one entree sounded like an excellent game plan. Reviews had suggested their marrow starter; how do I resist? It's meat butter practically and here, at a practical price. Their To-Marrow Never Dies ($8 - oven roasted bone marrow served with crostini and caramelized onion chutney) was noted as "our commitment to your gastropub exploration" on the menu. It was actually a bit plain to be honest. The chutney was divine however, and I ended up enjoying that a lot more than the marrow. I think a sprinkling of sea salt over the marrow would have really made a difference but alas, it was not prepared that way. We also went with their popular Pobla No's Spinach 'n' Arti Gratain ($10 - artichoke hearts, spinach & leeks added to goat cream & Cheddar cheeses topped with pablano & panko served with grilled breads), a dish I was expecting to be more gratin-like but ended up more the consistency of a spinach artichoke dip. Heavy and not what we expected, the dish didn't get finished but we at least enjoyed the breads it came out on. I think if we had eaten this before the lubricating marrow, it would have been easier to have more of it.

So at this point, nothing had been inherently wrong with our dishes so I couldn't jab at them too much. Things were still made in good fashion and could have used a tweak here or there but overall, not a bad meal. Their entrees were distinguished by type of protein so that made choosing a bit easier (one of each). We opted for their Pork Shoulder Redemption ($18 - slow roasted pork shoulder in osso bucco tradition finished with a citrus basil gremalata served over yellow polenta) because we were craving some comfort food and osso bucco called out to us. Unfortunately what we got was a pretty confused dish. The greens were dressed and not complementary to the tomato sauce. The pork was actually cooked quite well and fell away with each fork piercing but all of the accompaniments seemed off. The polenta had good flavor but not texture. We were a bit confused and didn't finish it, feeling uninspired by just how messy everything was layered together. Each piece was fine on its own but together, not so much. Ultimately, the meal finished off a bit boring but because there weren't any drastic errors, I give it the rating I do (since less than three stars means something was off).

Photography by Duc Duong.