After a handful of delays, we wondered if Martha Hoover’s charmer of a restaurant would ever come to fruition. Then again, we know better than to doubt Hoover, queen of the Patachou empire and trailblazer of Indy’s locally sourced dining movement. Like everything else she’s opened around town (Cafe Patachou, Napolese, and Petite Chou), Public Greens is a runaway success—just take a look at the winding line and jam-packed tables next time you’re jogging past on the Monon. From its mission to give all profits back to the Patachou Foundation (which provides meals to underprivileged children in the IPS system) to the playful seasonal menu—dare we say it?—Public Greens might even be Hoover’s most evolved concept to date.
The restaurant’s window-fringed dining room highlights slate-black tables, bench seating, wooden stools, and blown-up portraits of colorful dishes infused with produce from the onsite gardens. A floor-to-ceiling chalkboard menu and the glass-covered bar lined with giant bowls of vegan and vegetarian salads, gluten-free pastries, and free-range chicken remind us of our childhood cafeteria—if it were run by a gang of twentysomethings.
We recommend a mix-and-match approach to the bill of fare, which changes every Friday. For something a little more rib-sticking, start with the arancini: three crispy white-cheddar risotto balls on a bed of crushed-tomato sauce that’s so fresh and tangy you might be tempted to swipe your finger across the pretty little porcelain plate. Don’t skip ahead to the flaky biscuits or the popular buttermilk fried chicken until you’ve tried one of the cleverly named salads; chef Tyler Herald is an expert in this department and constantly changes the lineup. One of our faves was the Spin Doctor, strewn with mushrooms, bean sprouts, toasted coconut, water chestnuts, and avocado dressing, which packed copious amounts of fresh, springtime flavors. Groups looking to dine family-style can order any of the entrees or salads in a double or triple serving. But if you order a piece of the heavenly three-tiered coconut cake to split, be prepared to go to war with your forks.
Concept: Urban Cafeteria
Owner: Martha Hoover
Chef: Tyler Herald
Pedigree: Hoover also owns Cafe Patachou, Napolese, and Petite Chou. Herald serves as the executive chef for Patachou Inc.
Try It If You Like: Taste
Check it out: 900 E. 64th St., 964-0865, publicgreensurbankitchen.com