Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday Supper at the Public House

Just a few years ago, the city finally repealed the "Blue Laws" which prohibited businesses from opening before 12noon on Sundays. It caused quite a controversy here in the "Buckle of the Bible Belt." Ardent churchgoers felt this made it difficult for workers to attend church on Sunday morning, as they'd have to be at work instead. (My response? Convert to Catholicism, and have variety in your mass time choices!) It was ironic to me that folks would have this reaction, as they are the first ones in line at the local restaurants for supper after they get out of their 10 o'clock services. They clearly weren't considering the souls of the wait staff.

I write this as a background on how deeply Sunday suppers are embedded in the local mindset. Whether it's going to grandma's or to the Piccadilly Cafeteria, folks here like to have a meal after their soul-cleansing. One of the newer - and pricier - restaurants here has picked up on this, and is offering their own version of Sunday Suppers.

The Public House opened this year in a vacant space in the Warehouse Row development downtown. The owner is Nathan Lindley, whose brother owns several of the restaurants I've previously reviewed (Alleia, the Meeting Place and the St. John's). Their regular menu is based on the "small plates" concept - you can order several smaller plates as opposed to a large entree (although you can get regular entrees as well).

Sunday Supper is different. It's served just on Sunday, from 12n to 8pm. You can choose from one of four meats, and then all sides are served at your table family style. We started with a large salad, described as "Garden Patch Salad with heirloom beans, tomato, cucumber, spiced pecans, blue cheese, herb vinaigrette." It came in a large bowl, and all four of us had two servings plus some left over. Along with the salad was a basket of rolls - both regular yeast dinner rolls and some very yummy cheddar muffins (we had to get extras of the latter), served with home-made Chow Chow, a relish that is a Southern favorite.

Next came the main course. We had a choice of four items:

Public House Fried Chicken
Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon
Sugar-Cured Roast Pork Loin, Sweet onion gravy
Wagyu Beef Meatloaf with Tomato-Basil Gravy

One friend got the pork loin, and let us all sample it. It was so tender! There were two large slices - she ended up taking one home. Another got the fried chicken. It looked very flaky and tender. I got the meatloaf - wow! It was wonderfully seasoned and the meat wasn't all mushy. I brought half home - and can't wait for what I consider the perfect lunch: a leftover meatloaf sandwich.

With the entrees came three side dishes: roasted squash, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. Each came in a large serving bowl that we passed among ourselves. All were terrific - and enough for several extra servings. When we were finished, the wait staff asked if we wanted to take anything home. So we all refilled our plates with the extra sides, and they were nicely boxed up for us and handed to us in a shopping bag as we got ready to leave.

And, yes, there was a dessert course (although we were all ready to unbutton our pants!) - a warm apple cobbler served with two scoops of ice cream and locally produced honey over the top. Wow. And I guess that's an accurate description of the whole meal: over-the-top-fantastic!

My one disappointment was that I couldn't get my friends to enjoy a pitcher of sangria or mimosas - they stuck with hot tea. Oh, well. They also need to invest in some serving spoons. As this menu is a recent addition, they don't seem to as yet have anything larger than a soup spoon for serving.

The bill for all that was just $20 per person. A great deal and a great meal! I had been dying to try this, but had been reluctant to go alone, knowing how much food was involved. However, I did note a single diner at a nearby table who was served a single portion of each side with his meal. So if I have a hankering to go again, I won't have to worry about getting together a posse! And in how many restaurants does the owner not only come by to ask about your meal, but also delivers some the courses himself?!

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