Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back to School!

This weekend I finally got a chance to check out Public School 612 in Downtown LA.  Since LA is a big city and it's often hard to get around to different neighborhoods, I thought I'd share some pictures and experiences with you.  Add this to your list of places to drink craft beer in Downtown.

In case you haven't heard about PS612, I suggest you read my earlier post about the concept bar from last month.  The bar opened in early March and has been pretty packed since it opened.  I went with a few friends on a quiet Sunday to sample some of the food and brews.

The ethos behind this gastropub, which shares an entrance and kitchen with the Daily Grill on 6th and Flower, is that they're giving you an education in food and beer; trying to elevate the experience and taste-buds of their customers.  Hence the back to school theme.

The place looks really amazing and has the advantage of being completely new and remodeled.  The money they put into making it feel like a singular place really shows: soft lighting, hardwood tables, and paisley wall paper.  The bar is wide and is beautifully presented and best of all they've installed 2 dart boards in the back adding themselves to the short list of bars that serve good beer and have games.  The crowd seemed like late 20s to late 30s and a mix of co-workers taking some time to blow off steam, a group of friends sharing a drink, and a double date or two.  We were there pretty early on Sunday so it wasn't too crowded and the place felt very spacious, but it isn't hard to imagine it bustling with a late night crowd.

On to the beer...  Sad to say they lost their impressive Peachy Folder menus that were presented to me at the concept dinner.  They've been replaced by the old composition books with the black and white fronts.  Not a bad substitute, but the Peachys would have been awesome.  They're sporting about 20 taps with about one representation from every major style.  I asked about rotations and the bartender said they're working on that.  For now they have the resident taps listed below.  These aren't super geek out rare beers, but they're standards and classics in each style and they far surpass what you'll find in the sports bars down the street.  Beers like Racer 5, Black Butte Porter, Allagash White, Arrogant Bastard, 1903, Rasputin are all excellent gateway brews for beer geek novices to explore different styles and expand their knowledge of breweries.  While I stuck to draughts this time, I was very interested to see that they had Orval, Curieux, Telegraph's Stock Porter, and Wipeout IPA in bottles.... next time.

 A cheers to kick off the afternoon.  I started with the Echt Kriekenbier, I was very happy to see it come in the proper glassware, looks like Hallie trained the staff pretty well.

You order at the bar and they bring out to you at your table, so it's a perfect place for ordering a bunch of small dishes and taking your time with them.  First course was the Huevos al Diablor, or deviled eggs.  Notice the jalapenos on top.  These were great, I've always been a deviled egg fan.

Next up was the fried chicken.  This was probably one of my favorite dishes.  It was real pieces of chicken with a thin, but solid breaded crust, none of this amalgamated chicken with cereal on the outside nonsense.  They came with great Siracha Ketchup and BBQ Mustard dipping sauces: subtle touches that set places apart from your run of the mill bars.

We then had the Short Ribs, cooked in Dragoon's Irish Stout.  Some of the folks were only so-so about this one, but I really liked it and enjoyed the mashed potatoes which were drenched in a caramelized onion au jus.  Behind that you can catch a glimpse of the Lamb Burger.  Maybe I'm just not a lamb burger fan, but this one didn't really do it for me.  The bread, arugula, and cheese were all well thought out, but perhaps I just prefer beef burgers.  Lamb burger fans will probably rejoice though as it was cooked perfectly.

By this time I was ready for my second beer.  It's been a while since I've had anything from Eagle Rock Brewery, so I tried their Solidarity, which is a English Dark Mild Ale.  Very glad to see that PS612 is supporting the local breweries as well.

Here's a nice picture of some of the Saison DuPont that Megan was drinking.

Next up for food was the Wild Mushroom and Taleggio Lavash Pizza.  This was probably the food highlight of the afternoon.  Arugula, mushrooms, and Taleggio galore, but what really made it was the hints of chili flakes and truffle oil, really delicious!  I'd like to try this one again paired with some of the lighter Belgian ales they have tap.

The afternoon wouldn't be complete unless we tried their beer float, made with Young's Double Chocolate Stout, and signature PB+J cookies and milk.  The float was great, they nailed the amount of ice cream to beer ratio perfectly.  I'd like to see them branch out and offer some other flavors of ice cream or styles of beer.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with my trip to PS612.  Sitting by the big windows and looking out on the busy streets of Downtown made me happy I was inside drinking a beer and relaxing.  Despite being on the busy corner of 6th and Flower and sharing a space with Daily Grill, the bar maintains its own space, which is a relaxing space to have a quick bite and drink a good beer.  Often it's difficult for new bars that stem from existing franchises to maintain their own identity, but PS612 definitely has personality and character.

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