Pocketed away on the corner of Vestal Avenue and South Washington Street in Downtown Binghamton, South City Publick House is a bubble away from the world outside. Immediately upon entry, you come into a small passageway that is no longer than an arm. At the other end of the entryway are solid, swinging double doors that effectively bring you into the warm gastropub and away from the busy streets outside.
Upon entering, my friend Ray and I were seated in the elevated dining area in the corner by the large window which natural light poured through. The atmosphere was warm and cozy, from the low chatter of the patrons to the warm lights. Smooth jazz and acoustic music played quietly throughout the pub, augmenting the cozy atmosphere.
For this season’s Restaurant Week, South City Publick House offers a three-course lunch for $12 and a three-course dinner for $25. Each meal includes an appetizer, entree and a dessert, representing the establishment’s eccentric and thoughtful menu. Ray and I opted for the lunch.
For my appetizer, I ordered the egg drop soup. I was presented with both egg noodles and crackers to supplement my soup, and I appreciated the option. When I ran out of egg noodles, I was able to put crackers in my soup to enjoy the nice crunch. The soup was an ideal appetizer, its taste subtle and its portion small.
Ray ordered a fruited spinach salad and it was what it said it was: a fruit and spinach salad. The fruit was almost at odds with the spinach until he added the raspberry vinaigrette, which brought the two tastes together to make a pleasant and interesting salad. He commented that the salad was an appropriate size since he still had room left over for the entree as well.
Curious about the combination of pineapple, arugula and burger, I ordered the Hawaiian Burger. I was intrigued to see how the jerk-spiced burger would mix with the sweet tastes of the pineapple and arugula. My eyes popped a little at the size of the beefy burger, and while the meat was slightly bland, the pineapple and arugula were splendid together. The sweet arugula complemented the acidic pineapple well and added a well-balanced layer of sweet flavoring to the sandwich.
Ray asked for the Ahi Tuna Steak Sandwich, which is a double-decker sandwich filled with a grilled tuna steak, lettuce, tomato, onion and Sriracha aioli. The tuna was thoroughly grilled but sparsely seasoned, leaving the focus of the sandwich on the vegetables and sauces.
Finally, for dessert, I asked for a red velvet cookie. I was not disappointed. Our waiter kindly warmed the cookie so it was that perfect type of gooey where the chocolate chips melted and the cookie was soft to touch. The macadamia, chocolate and milk chocolate did not overpower the sweet cookie and mixed together well. Ray’s blueberry crisp followed the same route, more or less, as it was soft and warm and flavorful.
Throughout my entire experience at South City Publick House, I noticed the excitement about each meal. The waiter talked me through each eclectic option with vigor, patrons discussed the pros and cons of various meal options — one even stopped by my table to talk about my egg drop soup. The patrons were genuinely happy to be there. Merely 15 minutes after its opening, the beloved gastropub was already slowly filling up with excited patrons, and by the time I left, I struggled to see an empty table. Each plate was set up to look decadent with parsley sprinkled around the edges of our entrees, the chips and fries stacked high and the sauces drizzled elegantly across the food. Through every aspect of the meal from the ambiance to the wait staff to the presentation, I was encouraged to enjoy my meal with my friend, and I did.