Since my friend Jennifer lives in south Orange County and is my “food expert”, I asked her to join me for lunch at Public 74 in San Juan Capistrano. She had eaten there when it first opened two years ago but the current menu was unfamiliar to her. This restaurant offers fresh ingredients in the farm-to-table concept which allows for frequent menu changes.
The menu looked quite tempting with unique flavor combinations. For a starter, we ordered the Tomato Addiction which was practically a meal in itself. It consisted of cast iron roasted crushed garlic, sweet tomato and herbs finished with balsamic and served with a large wedge of St. Andre brie and grilled breads……a tasty mouthful of flavors!
Choosing a sandwich took a while. Following the waiter’s suggestion as one of Public 74’s signature dishes, Jennifer opted for the Smokin Reuben – hickory roasted corned beef piled on grill-toasted rye, dressed in a spicy sauce combination, with kraut and emmentaler Swiss cheese. The corned beef was so very tender and flavorful but the sauce in the kraut was way too spicy for our tastes. That’s just us – there are plenty of fire eaters out there.
I ordered the Porto Burger, an herb roasted Portobello mushroom stacked on an onion bun with herb garlic aioli, Swiss cheese, caramelized onion, tomato and fresh lettuce. Both our sandwiches were accompanied by house made chips that were very crisp and light. Our overall experience was very enjoyable.
Diner Alert – Do NOT under any circumstances cut the Porto Burger in half unless you are prepared to eat it with a knife and fork!!
The other thing is the atmosphere. Piped in music was from the 50s and 60s with a little 70s and 80s mixed in – songs I hadn’t heard in a very long time, was enhanced by an attentive wait staff very high on the hottie meter.