If you can generalize at all about the culinary stylings of Brad Farmerie, it’s that you can’t generalize about them. When you’re dealing with a chef whose past creative inclinations have run in the direction of “blood velvet cake” — composed of foie gras, blood (a favored ingredient), and white chocolate — you realize that all bets are off.
So when I was invited to Public, Farmerie’s flagship restaurant, for a sneak preview of a March tasting menu titled “Game, guts, & off cuts,” I didn’t think twice about it. I just went, expecting that the dinner would give a whole new definition to “March madness.” It didn’t disappoint.
The five-course extravaganza, which begins tonight, March 7, and runs through the end of the month, comes with an optional “beverage journey,” which adds $50 to the $75 per-person cost. I urge you to go the whole nine yards. The beverage pairings are an intrinsic part of the entire experience.
The Absolut Elyx cocktail with a twist cuts through some of the impossible richness of the first course, a chicken liver crème caramel. The shimmering disk of liver mousse is flanked on one side by a length of crispy bacon (which every liver dish demands), on the other by a cluster of maple-roasted grapes. The dish was first conceived when Farmerie faced off against Cat Cora in a maple syrup battle on “Iron Chef America.” Not surprisingly, he emerged the winner.
The overlapping slices of kangaroo carpaccio that arrive next are so fragile that the powerfully gamy meat nearly disintegrates on contact with your fork, which it does eventually on your tongue. The leathery Cotes du Jura that accompanies the dish mimics both its lightness and intensity. Salsify cut to resemble fettucine prolongs the experience along with artichokes and porcini.
At this juncture in the meal, you are required to make a choice. Will it be spicy tripe stew with a runny duck egg and grilled bread, or grilled Waygu beef tongue with orange braised fennel, sundried tomatoes, the Egyptian spice blend dukkah, and pita bread puree? If you’re smart, you and a companion will order one from Column A, one from Column B. The tongue, because of its provenance, is meltingly tender. The tripe is searingly hot, but the accompanying beverage — Saison Sauvin, a malty ale from New Zealand — helps extinguish the flames.
Course 5 is goat three ways. There is a disk of moist braised meat tinctured with Moroccan spices, a pair of grilled sates, and — best in show — a couple lengths of a house-made chorizo-like sausage. With meat this rich and complexly flavored, you want something to drink that is equally rich and complex. The house rises to the occasion with a Torbreck shiraz, from the Barossa Valley.
A sorbet made of blood orange is the perfect metaphorical finish to a meal this gutty. You get a quenelle of the cooling sweet along with a block of light and creamy mascarpone mousse and specks of almond crumble. You pair each bite with a sip of late-harvest Riesling.
Public, 210 Elizabeth Street, bet Prince and Spring Sts, 212-343-7011. Major credit cards are accepted.