I'd been hearing about Public Steak since they opened at the end of March but unfortunately, hadn't been able to get here til this month. BIG mistake on my part.
When I first heard that a former longtime Mastro’s Chef had opened up his own place I knew it was in the cards for this Mastros-loving girl to pay a visit.
First off you need to go with an open-mind as the location is your basic strip-mall so don’t let your first impression of the exterior fool you. Having been a local steakhouse (a la Steer Inn style) for many years it’s not a place you would drive by and say… ‘oh, I gotta go there!’ Once you set food inside though you’ll see the interior has been fully revamped into an inviting cozy space.
|The Duck mascot,|
a gift from the Chef's young daughter
The cocktails are a MUST order here and if you come in for just a drink there's a gorgeous long bar with a very creative bartender. Pictured here is the Southern Belle, a refreshing strawberry gin drink. I was a little worried it might be too sweet as many strawberry cocktails are but you could tell they used fresh berries as there was none of that syrupy sweet taste.
My friend also ordered "the Mrs." tequila grapefruit cocktail which was also very tasty, even for this non-tequila fan.
Normally, I wouldn't even bother reviewing the bread but holy smokes, it was THAT good here. A good bread basket is so underrated by restaurants but IMHO there is nothing like a warm bread basket filled with a crispy delicious variety of bread to set the tone for a great meal... and this definitely fit that bill!
The first dish to arrive at our table was the foie gras creme brulee, and it was one heckuva way to start the courses. If you aren't a foie gras fanatic don't be dissuaded, as it's an extremely subtle FG flavor with a creamy mouth-satisfying texture. Perfectly served with toast points and this insanely delicious fig jam- make sure to put a smear on your toast w the creme brulee.
Another delicious starter we ordered was the Tomato Burrata Salad. It was almost too pretty to eat served up like little pieces of individual art, each crowned with a full basil leaf. Each piece was a perfectly portioned flavor bomb with the precise amount of tomato, creamy burrata cheese, delicious pesto sauce and balsamic. The basil leaf was literally like a cherry on top adding that addt'l kick of basil. LOVED this dish and could seriously have eaten this as a course by itself.
So my standard of comparison for steakhouses is the in house dry-aged prime bone-in ribeye (aka Tomahawk steak) so this was a no-brainer for our evening's dinner agenda. Ordered medium-rare and requested sliced for easier sharing, it was delivered to our table exactly as ordered. Upon first bite it was apparent this was no ordinary steak! The seasoning on the charred exterior blew our minds as it added such amazing flavor to every bite. It was also cooked perfectly with a red center and charred exterior. AND yes, it's the priciest thing on the menu at $89 but when you take into account that three of us shared it (it's 40 ounces of deliciousness!) it's actually pretty reasonable so don't be shy about ordering this to share. It's also comparable to what other steakhouse (a la Mastros or Vaca) charge for a dry-aged prime cut of this size and quality. Note: This came with a demi-glace sauce and topped with arugula. We requested the sauce on the side (I suggest you do as well) and we were all quite happy with this decision as we felt the steak shined on its own without the sauce. However, the peppery arugula was a perfect compliment to the ribeye.
As is the norm with most high end steakhouses, steaks are served a la carte so sides are ordered separately. After consulting with the waitress for some recommendations we settled on the Lyonnaise Potatoes Gratin and the Roasted Cauliflower to accompany our ribeye. Both dishes were very tasty and worked perfectly to compliment our steak. Of the two, my favorite was the potatoes (pictured below) but how can you wrong with cheesy creamy potato goodness?
To end our meal we ordered the butter cake which actually comes with a regular butter cake AND a chocolate butter cake (who does that?!). I am guessing that Chef Briggs was channeling his Mastro's days as butter cake is their signature dessert. I have to admit that the butter cake here was actually my least favorite item as it was a tad dry and paired with a heavy chocolate ice cream. I think it would've fared much better with a lighter vanilla or even a strawberry ice cream would be a better pairing. The chocolate butter cake on the other hand, was VERY tasty as it was moist and almost reminiscent of a lava cake with it's fudgey interior. It was paired perfectly with vanilla ice cream to cut the richness.
We were also able to meet the Chef, Matthew Briggs, who came out of the kitchen to chat with the guests. I love that he does this – really adds a personal touch and shows how much he cares about his new venture. He proved to be a really charming gracious man with a definite goofy side that we enjoyed and is apparent in the below picture. Love it!
All in all our meal at Public Steak did not disappoint and we were very impressed with the food, drinks and service here. I can highly recommend you try them out and I'll definitely be back soon!
Public Steak is located at 3752 S. Harbor in Santa Ana (close to Costa Mesa).
Even though they are still new, it won't be too long before people find out about this gem so I recommend making a reservation when you plan to dine here.
They are on Open Table and their direct phone # is 714/557-2987.
Open M-Saturday, 4-10PM. They are closed on Sundays.