11:48 AM

71-28 Austin Street
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 575-0070

If you've ever been to a bar after work in Murray Hill or Turtle Bay and said to yourself, "I wish we had a place like this here in Forest Hills", then Austin Public is for you. There's a range of mass market beer on tap, from cheap to less so (Coors Light, Goose Island, Sam Adams, etc.); there's plenty of long bar to grab a seat at with plenty of TVs playing sports; the crowd is solidly 25 to 35 years old; the music is yell-across-the-table loud; there's a fully stocked bar but no one will be requesting a cocktail other than a Jack & Coke anytime soon.

Having not eaten at Austin Public for some time, I decided to shoot on over with Pike and his wife - who for the sake of being lazy I will call Pikette - and Lutsy, for a quick bite. Indeed, since the server forgot to bring us our appetizer, it was even quicker than we anticipated. When I arrived, I sat at the crowded bar, nursed a beer, and waited until my friends showed up. By 7:30PM on a midweek night, the bar was pretty full, but the dining area was half full. Still, Austin Public is large, so there were plenty of diners. 

Everyone soon arrived and we were led to our table, given a pitcher of water, and proceeded to choose our dishes. Like I said, we had ordered an appetizer for the table to share (fried calamari), but it never showed up andm although our waitress was very polite and apologetic, we decided to forgo those calories this evening. Pike and Pikette, ever the pair, both ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich, a buttermilk battered fried chicken breast with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a paprika aioli on a roll. I ordered The Austin Smokehouse, a sandwich of smoked pork, smoked brisket, gouda cheese, and fried shallots on a brioche roll. Lutsy went with the California Chicken Sandwich, a sandwich of thin-cut grilled chicken breast, avocado, arugula, and goat cheese. 

I'll be blunt. None of these three was particularly good. The buttermilk fried chicken was both excessively greasy and dry. The smoked pork was so fatty that it drowned out most of the flavor. The California chicken sandwich was the best by virtue of tasting not-bad. "The roll was toasted too much," Lutsy opined. But at least she ate her dinner, something I didn't bother to try to do. "I think I like the food more than you," said Pike, "but it was at best mediocre." All of the sandwiches come with french fries that you will bury in ketchup and never think twice about.

I don't want to dislike Austin Public. I want to like it very much. The staff was nice despite the order screw up, the location is great and the layout is well done. I want to say "There's a lot of potential here and I hate seeing it wasted." But while I guess that I personally think that it would be nice if it was a bit less generic, but the truth is that its genericness is almost certainly a selling point. You've been there a hundred times before you've walked through the door. 

Other than to fix the mediocre food, it'd be nice if they toned the music down a teensy notch. It's crowded already. No one can hear anyone else's conversations. Everyone hates the sign out front that looks like it was stolen from a Texas megachurch, but at this point, I've accepted that it ain't going anywhere. Still, he bathroom is godawful and people outside can watch you pee. That sucked. One selling point back when it opened was that they'd have live music and trivia night, and they sure did since I've been there a few times guessing who FDR's first vice president was. Do they still do it? The website hasn't been updated in six months for some reason, so who's to say?

Seriously, update this shit. It's nearly July.

Sandwiches cost between $15 and $20, entrees cost between $15-$25. My happy hour Coors Light was $4.

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