Public Kitchen & Bar has quietly become one of the best new restaurants in Providence. In fact, you may not have even heard of this Modern American eatery yet. Located at the Renaissance Hotel, Public Kitchen opened in September 2013, replacing Temple, the hotel’s original restaurant. Don’t be fooled though. Public Kitchen is NOT your typical hotel restaurant. Chef Willis Stepp has created a fairly simple menu with complex flavors using intricate techniques. This culinary mastermind is reinventing comfort food with an upscale twist. From locally sourced produce to grass-fed beef, Public Kitchen boasts some of the best quality ingredients you will find in Downtown. All at very reasonable prices to boot!
Ever have trouble deciding on one single appetizer? Me too. That’s why the Chef’s Bar Board was designed for people like us. The selection changes daily and includes a bunch of small bites which are fun to share with friends.
During our visit, we were served:
- Homemade Pretzel Bites with whole grain mustard
- Chicken Liver Mousse with Balsamic drizzle
- BBQ Pork Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Lime Scallion
- Spam Sliders with a Fried Egg, Maple Glaze and Sriracha Ketchup
I have to be honest. At first, I wasn’t thrilled about Spam making a special guest appearance on my Bar Board. However, Chef Stepp completely transformed this ingredient and changed my perspective of this mystery meat. Topped with a fried egg, the runny yolk and maple glaze created a sweet and savory sauce for the slider. It was whimsical and astonishingly delicious. Don’t knock it until you try it!
Another favorite was the rich, silky chicken liver mouse. Perfectly smooth and spread on a crostini, it was more refined than the other bites on the board. The juxtaposition between the spam and chicken liver mousse showcased the menu’s diverse offerings.
This dish was flawless. The egg was sous-vide for 60 minutes at 142 degrees making the white the same consistency at the yolk. It was just firm enough to hold its shape, and when it came in contact with my spoon, it completely dissolved, yolk oozing out. Thick slabs of bacon were also generously mixed throughout the bowl. This dish is a “must-order” at Public Kitchen – especially for $9!
This is gourmet Mac N Cheese at its best. There’s no roux so it’s less heavy than your typical version, yet still creamy and rich. It’s decadent and loaded with sharp, cheesy flavor.
The Pork Chop was incredibly juicy and moist due to its preparation. First it was brined in rosemary and sage, then sous-vide at 136 degrees for 3.5 hours. Once again, this temperature-controlled technique resulted in a perfectly cooked product. With the chop cooking inside an airtight bag, it retained all of its natural juices and created a melt-in-your-mouth texture not typically associated with pork. You may even notice some purple salt scattered in the picture above. Chef Stepp actually creates his own salt from dehydrated Petite Syrah wine. My mind is officially blown.
We decided to order a handcrafted cocktail after dinner. The Steppe One is a popular choice at the Bar. It is sweet yet well-balanced and pairs perfectly with dessert.
There’s always room for dessert, even when you order the Chef’s Board which has 3-4 different varieties. An artistic presentation by Pastry Chef Corey who changes the selection daily.
During our visit, we were served a deliciously decadent combination:
- Public Candy Bar – Caramel, Rice Crispies, Chocolate Nutella and Hazelnuts
- Caramel Pecan Cheesecake with Pecan Brittle and Shortbread Crust
- Duo of Bread Puddings – Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate
It’s difficult to pick one, but my favorite turned out to be the Public Candy Bar. I wish I could find this in vending machines and checkout lines at my local Walgreens. It made me wonder why more candy bars aren’t made with Nutella. Genius!
We were extremely impressed with our entire dining experience at Public Kitchen & Bar. The wide range of techniques and elaborate preparations in every course were remarkable. Chef Stepp is putting out plate-after-plate of inspiring cuisine. It’s thought-provoking comfort food that keep you thinking about it the next day. A truly memorable meal from start to finish.