Sometimes after a long day on the trails, you want to clean up for a dining experience that goes beyond bar food and beer, yet doesn’t involve reservations or a stuffy, white-linen ambiance.The Public Kitchen and Bar is just the spot, with a mellow vibe, rooftop bar, and approachable yet upscale cuisine, from hearty burgers to Savannah favorites like shrimp and grits.
“The Public Kitchen and Bar aims to fill the gap between extreme casual and fine dining,” says Jamie Durrence, managing partner of the Daniel-Reed Hospitality Group, which owns the restaurant. “The Public was a labor of love, and it shows. This was another successful attempt to try to lead the dining scene by doing revolutionary things to lead the way.”
Up a short set of stairs, the bar is a great spot for a drink or casual dinner, with dark wood ceiling panels contrasting with painted white brick. Grab a seat in one of the spindly wireframe chairs for happy hour from 3-6 pm, for $4 craft beers, $5 wines, and $6 specialty cocktails. If you’re just coming off the trails, head up to the rooftop patio, where you’ll sit above the crossroads to Savannah’s downtown business and residential neighborhoods.
The menu rotates seasonally, but burgers—there are five on the menu—are always a hit. They feature Angus beef that’s 100 percent grass-fed, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free, sourced from Durrence Farm, the restaurant’s own cattle farm in Glennville, Georgia. The juicy Savannah Philly oozes with caramelized onions and mushrooms, while provolone tames the kick from the Sriracha aioli.
“I’m not aware of any other restaurants in the area that produce all-natural, no antibiotic, grass-fed beef and does this with the intention of doing so for their own menu,” Durrence says. “We believe that that in itself is a good reason to choose The Public Kitchen and Bar, particularly if you are in the mood for a burger.”
Sandwich-wise, choose from classics like the Cuban, packed with ham, pulled pork, provolone, pickles and Creole mustard. Vegetarian-friendly sandwiches are hearty and satisfying, like the falafel pita or veggie burger with sun-dried tomato pesto aioli.
Fresh salads come piled high in white ceramic bowls; the beet salad is a beautiful array of ruby beets and golden orange segments.
Entrees highlight Savannah’s southern coastal flair, such as shrimp and grits or Frogmore oyster stew, with oysters, bacon, celery, and a crispy baguette for dipping.
Be sure to leave room for dessert, like the decadent chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, made by a talented pastry chef who oversees all three restaurants in the hospitality group.