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First Look at The General Public

The General Public opened on August 11, just six weeks ago, but already it has become a favorite neighborhood gastropub serving Americana Southern classic dishes and craft cocktails and beers. From the copper-plated ceiling tiles to the open-concept kitchen, the restaurant's charm greets you warmly from the first hello to the last good-bye. The Houston Press sat down at the table for a first look at the latest addition to City Centre. 

The restaurant is situated at the corner of Queensbury Lane and Sorella Court, at 797 Sorella, Suite 118, adjacent to its sister, Bowl & Barrel, both of FreeRange Concepts, a Dallas-based restaurant group helmed by co-owners Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz.  The two restaurants are separated by a wall and feature completely different menus, yet share one kitchen. There are two main dining areas and a long, U-shaped bar at the center, lined with comfortable black leather, armchaired bar stools for counter seating. 

On this visit, the Press sampled a few best-selling items on the menu. The burrata & pistachio toast is prepared with locally sourced cheese from Hardies and bread baked daily at Slow Dough Bakery. Loads of pistachio crumbs are buttered on a thinly sliced baguette, which is presented alongside a generous portion of halved burrata mozzarella, with the creamy center sprinkled with more pistachio crumbs. 

One of the house specialties is the pork & greens, featuring a pork steak cooked to a medium-well temperature, marinated, then grilled, nestled atop a small mound of slow-braised kale, topped with bacon aioli and crumbled housemade cornbread. The kale is an interesting take on the classic "collard greens" preparation, giving the side more texture and a deeper, earthier flavor. Cornbread can sometimes be dense and heavy, but not this version. These morsels were delightfully sweet, buttery and flaky. 

As the meal came to a close, the Press questioned the dessert offering on the menu. There was just one choice:  "Birthday Cake." Julian, our server, explained that "you'll understand once you have it." Event coordinator Jenar Hamdy added that "everyone loves this slice of cake because it makes them feel special — like it's your birthday!" Indeed, she was right. Covering it, and even sandwiched in between each layer, was a fun confetti-colored sprinkled butter cream icing. The vanilla cake was moist, and the sight of the giant slice arriving at the table with a single lit candle was ear-to-ear-smile-inducing.

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Other food favorites on its menu include the grilled rosemary shrimp & grits (made with cauliflower and green chile cream), the tempura battered shisitos & shrooms, which comes with a tangy sriracha dipping sauce, and the bacon burger, topped with bacon aioli.  

There is an extensive list of whiskey, wines, rotating craft beers on tap and craft cocktails available. Instead of a happy hour, "day drinking" is encouraged with $4 rosé by the glass all day.

General Manager Susan Wu says that the restaurant finishes each day with a special tradition that it shares with its guests who happen to be dining at that moment. A complimentary house shot is delivered to each table to celebrate the "sundown toast." Wu says special touches like this and sharing free "cake balls" with guests set The General Public apart from cookie-cutter restaurants. She added, "We want our diners to know they are special to us."

Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday.

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