Ferndale’s buzzy Nine Mile hangout Public House is undergoing a major transition this week as the restaurant restaurant unveils a brand new menu. The nearly six-year-old establishment from Working Class Outlaws restaurant group has long been a destination for cocktails, hushpuppies, and eclectic sliders. However, newly appointed executive chef Nick Erven plans to put his own spin on the kitchen this week by doing away with the mini burgers.
Erven was named exective chef of the Working Class Outlaws restaurant group last fall, following the departure of the group’s executive chef Brandon Zarb, and started by developing the menu for Ferndale restaurant Antihero. He’s now refocused his attention on tuning up the menus at the group’s other restaurants starting with Public House. Imperial will get a refresh sometime this spring.
The new menu includes some familiar Public House items like deviled eggs and soft serve ice cream, but replaces a few of the restaurant’s stalwart items. Erven sees the changes as adding a bit of maturity to the bar atmosphere. “I didn’t want to alienate the people who had been coming here for five years,” he says, but admits it was also time for something different. “Sliders were great, but I think they had kind of run their course,” he says.
In place of the sliders are a new list of sandwiches such as a fried bologna served on Texas toast with dijonaise, pickles, American cheese, and shredded lettuce and a beer-battered fish sandwich with green tomato gribiche and herb salad. For burger diehards, there’s also a double meat, double cheese stacked version with bread and butter pickles, smokey 1000 Island dressing, and caramelized onions on a brioche bun.
Erven, who used to own a highly praised vegan restaurant in Southern California, is also introducing more vegan and vegetarian items to the menu. The vegan sauerkraut-rye doughnut holes lead the menu. They’re served with smoked applesauce and mustard. Erven says the flavor reminds him of, “when you go to McDonald’s and you dip your chicken nuggets in the barbecue sauce and the honey mustard.” This description fits into Erven’s overall efforts to play with high and low at Public House. “There’s a little bit of a stoner quality” to the menu, he says. No dish, perhaps, exemplifies this more than the “Fancy Ass Hash Browns” — a lacy display of crispy cheddar surrounding a latke-like hashbrown cooked with bacon, egg, and scallions. The whole thing is topped with a dollop of creme fraiche and caviar.
Erven is working with chef de cuisine Jasmine Hughes to update that popular brunch menu as well. The chef notes that many of the dishes being introduced this week such as the braised mushrooms and grits will likely make an appearance during brunch service.
Erven’s menu is set to roll out on Wednesday March 20, but fans of the restaurant can scope out a preview of the menu below.