Today's review if for the General Public. Yes, all my reviews are always accessible to anyone, no membership required.
What I mean is that today I'm reviewing General Public House, a restaurant in Winter Springs. It seems to combine the characteristics of a general store and a public ale house. So, General Public.
Let's start with the food. It's all solidly good and everything I sampled tasted great. Pleasantly plated, too. In fact, I was surprised at how good the food was.
Surprised because so much of what I observed and experienced before the food got to me and my guests did not suggest that good food was soon to come.
The entrees, or Main Plates, as they're listed here, run from $19 to $28. Not unreasonable amounts, especially given the good quality. But when a restaurant reaches that price point, there are certain other expectations that I maintain are also reasonable.
For example, I don't expect the water glass to be a large plastic tumbler emblazoned with Pepsi-Cola and with a black straw stuck in it. I expect cloth napkins, but if you do choose to go the paper route offer something other than flimsy tissues that tear with one mouth wipe. A proper side plate should be offered for sharing appetizers, not a cupless saucer. I don't mind that the flatware is offered in a brown paper sleeve, though it's just a variation of the vile rollups that are so prevalent. And I don't care what the price point of a restaurant is, but a server, when clearing the appetizer course, should never utter one of the most vile phrases one can say to a guest: "You may want to hang on to your knife and fork."
And put them where? On the bare tabletop? On one of the flimsy napkins that you've stacked in the center of the table? Back into the brown paper sleeve that you've not bothered to clear from our table?
But the food is good. Well, except for the Florida Gator Tail, but truthfully, I didn't expect much from it. Two of my guests were visiting from out of state, so I ordered it as a novelty, emphasizing to them that most of us Floridians do not eat gator. That's because it is generally tough and chewy, as these nuggets were, though they were nicely breaded and accompanied by a mustardy remoulade. Still, at $14 for six hard nuggets, it was a pricey novelty.
But things soared from there. My entree of Stuffed Chicken featured a winged airline breast of free-range chicken stuffed with prosciutto and goat cheese, sitting on sauteed spinach with was atop whipped red bliss potatoes. It was all ladled with a truffled reduction that included big chunks of mushrooms. A lot going on there and it was all delicious.
So was my guest's Public House Redfish, served blackened and with a lobster sauce. The fish had a firm texture and the blackening seasonings didn't overwhelm. The dish included some more of the mashed potatoes but also several large spears of asparagus.
The same sides accompanied another guest's American Lamb. (If I can offer a niggle on the food it would be to suggest the kitchen offer unique platings for each entree.) The dish featured two double chops, cooked perfectly, with a hint of rosemary in the char. Lovely.
From the list of Hand-Helds, because we can't just call them sandwiches these days, another guest chose the Florida Mahi. Another fine fillet, this one also with blackening seasonings but graced with a Key lime citrus aioli and served on what the menu called "grilled farmers bread." I didn't ask the proper method for grilling a farmer, but the roll seemed like a ciabatta to me, and a very fresh one at that. The fries were good, too.
For dessert, we shared the Triple Chocolate S'mores Cake -- clean forks all around! -- which was indeed chocolatey, in three layers, dotted with tiny marshmallows and stabbed with a couple of graham crackers.
I liked my server very much and couldn't help thinking how much better he could do his job if he received some training. I'm not sure who would do that. I couldn't be certain that any of the staffers I saw in the dining room were managers. I think it might have been one of the persons wearing a flannel shirt. The serving staff wore t-shirts, some of which looked as though they needed laundering soon. My advice to restaurateurs has always been that the staff should dress better than they expect their guests to dress. Apparently, they expect us to wear bathrobes.
The noise level is high, but that's to be expected from a public house, generally.
General Public House is in the Winter Springs Town Center, 156 Tuskawilla Road, Winter Springs. It is open for lunch Friday through Sunday and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-890-9696.