If you were blindfolded and spun around 10 times, there’s a strong chance you could swing a bat and hit a drink in downtown Fullerton. Locating the one that suits you is the difficult part. Where steamy jazz once spilled into the SoCo district of DTF now lies The Public House by Evan’s Brewing Company, a chill pub with an open-style kitchen, cocktails, and 20 taps of all delicious craft beer made in Orange County (60% house beer, 40% local). The concept isn’t complex; the ex-jazz club’s brick walls and wooden skeleton remain intact; the main difference is brushed drums and saxophone have been replaced with familiar tunes that pair well with a cozy pub vibe.
Going for a beer, my focus changed quickly seeing a full bar with three out of ten cocktails containing beer. Being a huge beer nerd, I’m still skeptical of beer-based cocktails as either beer is used unnecessarily as a mindless bubbly foam, or has tastebud-crushing ingredient clashes, where an IPA-based cocktail sometimes contains copious amounts of cocktail bitters, which can be like wearing paisley pants with a plaid shirt.
The Public House’s three beer cocktails use distinct beer styles. The Hop Collins uses IPA in a quenching sagey-earthy tall drink. The Dandy Shandy uses Evan’s honey blonde Pollin Nation as the base, which comes off like a Michelada if it were made with vodka and fresh muddled berries instead of Clamato. The absolute must-try of the three, the Chocolatte Cordial is a blend of nitro Chocolatte Stout, Bulleit Bourbon, Cherry Heering, and Luxardo Amaretto garnished with a luscious black cherry. It is decadent, silky, and well done.
With any pub, the house burger is a great measuring stick for the rest of the menu, and Evan’s is full of character. Their blended rib-eye and pastrami patty makes for an addictive smoky-umami experience balanced perfectly with caramelized IPA onions, sweet pickles, and crisp coleslaw. The speckled top-hat bun stays perfectly intact through the finish, and their brown-ale-glazed Brussels sprouts make a perfect side.
If you order one thing, the Summer Corn Skillet Hoecake should be high on the list. It comes out cast-iron smokin’ hot with two fingers of sweet corn cake smothered with a pat of honey butter. When the skillet is empty, don’t be surprised if you find yourself fighting over the applewood smoked bacon chunks that somehow clung to the pan.
The Public House
138 W. Commonwealth Ave. in downtown Fullerton.