Having already created two of Blowing Rock’s most popular restaurants—Bistro Roca and Gideon Ridge Inn—hospitality entrepreneurs Cobb and Cindy Milner, along with virtuoso Chef Michael Foreman, have done it again. Their latest venture, The New Public House Restaurant (simply called “The New,” for short), is an absolute delight to the palate, offering diners a contemporary interpretation of traditional southern cuisine. The result is an eclectic dining experience that is casually elegant and altogether…well, new.
Opened this past fall, The New is located in the heart of downtown Blowing Rock on Sunset Street, site of the old Crippin’s Country Inn. From a design perspective, The New is a breath of fresh air. The old, down-home country trappings have been replaced with a motif that is simultaneously modern and invitingly familiar. “We wanted to evoke an atmosphere that was more minimalist and sophisticated,” says Cobb, “yet we didn’t want to sacrifice comfort. It was important that people feel at ease here.”
Indeed, the soft, muted earth tones, clean lines, lighter wood accents, and no frills décor, create a soothing ambiance that envelopes guests as they walk through the door. The restaurant, with its organic-meets-urban flair, is a natural extension of this theme and presents diners with a thoroughly unique culinary offering. Partner and highly decorated Executive Chef Michael Foreman was intent on breaking the mold of predictability. “We didn’t want to go down the same old, quaint, culinary road that you see so often in mountain towns,” he says. “My goal and inspiration from the beginning was to broaden the palette of the expected southern menu to present diners with dishes that were more subtle, unexpected and imaginative.”
Even a cursory glance at the menu bears Michael’s philosophy out. One will immediately recognize traditional ingredients or dishes that have been creatively reimagined. “Our menu is always evolving according to the season,” says Michael, who has studied at the renowned Le Cordon Blue in London (and whose list of accolades includes being a Sous Chef at Augusta National when Tiger Woods requested his now famous “fried chicken dinner”). “The operative word at The New is fresh,” he says. “I have established relationships with local growers and farmers to ensure we have quality seasonal ingredients.” So much of the appeal at The New is spontaneously envisioned based on what’s fresh and in season. It’s rare to find a restaurant not only committed to such creative expression, but that is actually capable of producing an elevated dining experience night after night. It takes a world-class chef like Michael to truly pull that off.
Unlike so many upscale dining establishments that get bogged down in the mud of predictability, The New is always pushing the culinary boundaries of what’s possible. On any given night, the ingredients in season and on hand determine what actually goes from farm to table. For diners, it is a dream scenario because you never know what surprise culinary treats await. Every time one dines at The New, chances are it will be a new experience, literally. In a small town, that is indeed a recipe for success…as well as originality.