“Free spirited fusion” is the type of cuisine served up at Public, a chic new space on Elizabeth Street in New York City. Adventurous diners are welcome, as chef Brad Farmerie serves up specialties from oxtail to tongue. Though I’ve been to Public for several events related to wine (their list is fab; more on that in a moment), I had yet to meet Farmerie or get an understanding of his style of cooking. Chef Farmerie has cooked at the Providores, Sugar Club, La Manoir, aux Quat Coast, and Chez Nico. Public is his first NYC restaurant.
When I heard Farmerie would be demonstrating his tongue and oxtail dish here in NYC, I couldn’t resist the temptation to see him in action – and there it was: a tongue, raw and untrimmed, nearly as large as a human head, lying on the demonstration table. Chef Farmerie deftly passed it around on a platter for the students at the demonstration to admire, and then proceeded to trim off the fat that surrounds the core meat. “Many cultures leave it on,” he said, noting that to do so is like leaving the sole on a shoe.
What impressed me as he began to cut the tongue into perfectly shaped, thin squares was his self-possession and confident manner. Throughout the demonstration he had the aura of an individual who knew his area of expertise and was fully in command of his own creative process. As he put the dish together (the tongue slices would rest on a bed of baba gannosh, a roasted eggplant dish, with a shard of quinoa flatbread for crush), Farmerie shared marketing secrets.
“We put this dish on the bar menu at the Monday Room (the restaurant’s adjacent wine bar) at a very reasonable price so people will order it. If we priced it at $15, people might order the more familiar scallops, but priced at below ten, people try it and like it.” The reason for topping the dish with the shard of quinoa flatbread, he revealed, is to add crush. “People think of tongue as a mushy dish. The flavors and textures of this presentation make the dish more presentable and palate-friendly.”
Next, Farmerie slapped a huge Oxtail on the preparation table (note: nearly the size of a leg, it looks as if it had just been snipped from an ox in the field). As he cut off the skin and fat to expose the meat, Farmerie mentioned that oxtail is one of the only tails you can eat because it is rich with fatty meat. “In England, I once had fried pigs’ tails, but it was mostly crisp skin with bone. If you like that sort of thing, go for it.”
Fellow students, who had come fresh from learning how to cut and prepare tongue that afternoon in cooking school, peppered Farmerie with questions. “I can’t get all the bumps off the tongue,” said one student, speaking of the flavor buds. “Any tips?” The chef advised her not to worry about it, mentioning it should disappear when the meat was cooked, and sharing that if a student chills the meat before slicing, the slices are more regular.
Public is a fun restaurant that prides itself on interesting cuisine and a great wine program. For example, you can subscribe to their Wine Mailbox Program. Each month, Chef Brad Farmerie hand-selects a bottle of one of the best artisanal wines from Australia, New Zealand, and around the globe, along with his tasting notes, food pairing suggestions, and other unique treats. As a Wine Mailbox member, you also receive preferred reservations and exclusive invitations to Public events. Check on the Monday Room, too, where you can order flights of wine based on your preferences and budget.