Public Kitchen + Bar in St. Paul gives the past its due with railroad-spike coat hangers complementing the historic building’s original exposed-brick walls and wooden beams. But the real showstopper is the wall of arched windows overlooking Mears Park, offering a view lovely enough to offset minor kitchen missteps (meek French onion soup, under-seasoned grits). It would be easy to spend an entire evening in the space, between the restaurant and the loungey basement bar, where a separate food menu meets a citrus-heavy lineup of craft cocktails.
Like its design, Public’s menu offers an update on the classics. House-made chicken ravioli highlights the best parts of chicken noodle soup: Tender pockets of pasta are packed with generous chunks of chicken, covered by a light broth and white beech mushrooms. And Public’s cheeseburger offers just the right garnishes to truly enhance the beef: Bourbon-glazed bacon and addictive jalapeño jam add touches of sweetness to balance the savory. • publickitchenstpaul.com