You’d think this one would in turn: carved next to a Daily Grill, DTLA’s newest gastropub, Public School 612, seeks to evoke the appetizing memories of a high school cafeteria. Thankfully, it applies this aesthetic with measured restraint: when you order from the brightly-tiled bar covered with baskets of fresh fruit, then join your clique at one of the communal tables, that cryptonostalgic spirit hums through. But not a public high school, more like an East Coast prep school where the poor kids only drive 3 Series (those savages.)
While the sly winks are cute (their composition book menus include cream soda and “PB&J Cookies and Milk”, which cost only five bucks and your sense of shame) PS 612 succeeds on its own merits. The solid scotch list and signature cocktails (gimlets, old fashioned) contribute to the blue-blood atmosphere, and their twenty beers on tap skew charmingly obscure and eclectic (disregard the Sierra Nevada.) Oh, and their food...I want to describe their lamb burger with arugula, brie, and cranberry-tomato jam (see above) but I had destroyed it before my taste buds could assemble. Friendly bartenders readily suggest beer pairings for their menu items, and while I’m not sold on the concept in general, a crisp Saison Dupont did complement the heavy burger nicely.
It’s a heller of a conundrum: some bars need stunt concepts to attract crowds, yet there’s always the risk of a misfire. PS 612 carries itself well; it’s unique, yet inviting. Between this spot and the Library Bar (a mere one block away), staying late at school has never felt this fun.