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The Public House: a first look

The Public House is now open in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis

The Public House is now open in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis

The Public House opened its doors last month on Washington Avenue, taking up residence in a neighborhood that includes such notable restaurants as Black Sheep Pizza and Bar La Grassa. The Public House is distinct from its neighbors in that its focus is on small plates featuring seasonal ingredients, craft beers, and an open, accessible vibe. Here's a first look at the new restaurant.

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The biggest thing to recommend the Public House is its happy hour, which occurs from 3 to 6:30 p.m. seven days a week and includes $4 tap beers, $3 house wines, and a nice selection of noshes and small plates at reduced prices. Sweet potato fries and the flatbread of the day will set you back $3 each, four kinds of tacos are available for $1 off the regular price, and you can mix and match several varieties of stuffed potato skins and meat or veggie skewers.

Another thing the Public House has going for it is a great selection of craft beers, available on tap and by bottle (small or large). They feature several brews by Great Lakes Brewing Company on tap, all of which are brimming with flavor and freshness, and enough 22-ounce bottle varieties to rival Surdyk's.

The Public House offers four varieties of tacos: chicken tinga, tilapia, pork carnitas, and veggie. All are served in flour tortillas with two tacos per order, at prices ranging from $3 (during happy hour) to $6.

The tacos seem to be a safe bet as far as menu choices go. Among several of the items we tried, they were the most reliably fresh and tasty.

The chicken skewers, on the other hand, left us bewildered. It was like someone microwaved a frozen chicken strip with no seasoning or marinade of any kind, stuffed it onto a stick, and called it a day. It was rubbery, flavorless, and unappetizing.

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The tuna tartare, likewise, left something to be desired. The presentation was a step up from the skewers, but it didn't taste very fresh and had none of the bright zip a good tartare carries. It tasted flat, with too much mush in the texture and not enough contrasting bite.

The Caprese skewers helped redeem the meal with their fresh, seasonal flavor, and our dessert of the petite gateau (lava cake with caramel dulce de leche) was quite tasty as well.

Service at the Public House is fast and friendly, and the space has an open, airy, welcoming quality that invites passersby to pop in for an affordable brew and a nosh. A dining destination it's not, at least for now, but for an accessible neighborhood bar and cafe, it's off to a good start. Just stay away from those skewers.

The Public House 700 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis 612.455.1213; The Public House website