When we recently vacationed in the High Country, we were so delighted to see the former Crippens, which was sold earlier this year, open as a brand new restaurant. The adventurous owners behind Gideon Ridge and Bistro Roca (a triadfoodies fave) just that week opened The New Public House & Hotel as a casual and inviting tapas restaurant, with a boutique hotel following close behind. And these tapas all feature farm-to-table ingredients by the talented, award-winning, chef Michael Foreman.
The restaurant had literally been open a day, so they didn’t officially consider themselves up and running until the very night we arrived! I don’t usually hit a restaurant so early on…give them a few weeks to get all the kinks out. But I figured with Michael Foreman heading the kitchen…well, this ain’t his first rodeo.
Management says the place has been totally redone and I noticed a good bit of freshening up, new paint, art and fixtures, but it still has the same homey comfy-ness of its predecessor, which had a higher price-point. There’s nothing on the menu at The New Public House more than $13. And the tapas are all shareable. You can select from Bites (slightly smaller), Garden (veggie selections), Sea, Pasture, and Mountain (a selection of mountain fare like Wild Mushrooms, etc and a few items that look like they’d belong in the Pasture category, but I’m not picking on them) :). There’s also a lovely wine bar in the center of the dining room where a wine steward expedites orders from the wait staff, which alleviates pressure from the bar. If you haven’t been to Blowing Rock, the folks who live there and travel there love their wine and cocktails, so this is a good call. It keeps the wine flowing.
Manager Will provided us with a nice sample of his Rose to get us started along with Chef Michael’s delicious house-made bread that looked like pumpernickel but was really a rye with hints of cocoa and molasses. It’s served alongside butter and black-eyed pea hummus. And those kidlets ate that bread!
Chef Michael sent out a gorgeous Sweet Corn Grits Tamale with local corn, grits, wrapped in corn husk. It was beautifully presented with perfectly cooked grits and sween corn and red onion. My little girl ate that! Thanks, Chef…for sure delicious and gorgeous.
We ordered the Southern Fried Chicken wrapped in bacon (!), Fried Green Tomatoes and the Trout Cakes. If you ever get chance to order trout IN the mountains, please do. Unless they are literally driving that trout from the water to you, it won’t be nearly as fresh as you can get it there. Simply fabulous trout. These trout cakes were no exception.
The fried green tomatoes were fresh, firm with a coating that stay on it (important to me) and a bacon horseradish mayo which was a nice departure from the typical aioli. It was like a spicy BLT when you included them with the accompanying greens.
I must say something about that chicken though. The little drumsticks were frenched..so you just had that adorable skinny little leg and the meat itself had been wrapped in…yes…BACON. Hello! Total satisfaction. Served with watermelon and greens.
Finally for dessert we ordered the ice cream which featured these adorable little sugar cones ON TOP of a tiny scoop of bourbon brown sugar ice cream, all accented with fresh berries. It looked like a sweet, neat little circus.
Cute!!! I didn’t get one :(. 4 people, 3 cones equaled nothing for me…and I WRITE this blog!)
All in all, I’d say the kinks were no issue on the first weekend night of The New Public Ale House. The place was already pretty full by the time we left so I think the folks in the area have been looking to return to this beloved address. I’d like to go back and try a few more interesting things on the menu. And take note, it’s all very seasonal so the menu will likely change a good bit, which makes farm to table cuisine all the more exciting, especially on the Rock.
The New Public House
239 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, NC