Public School 702 has the type of refined brand you’d expect from a chain restaurant, which it is, but manages to feel more like a small-scale, chef-driven spot thanks to a modern menu and great craft brews. As a gastropub, you’ll find pub and bar fare that will hit the spot like bangers and mash ($13) consisting of snappy chicken and herb sausages and a hearty bacon brussels mash. Other top dishes include chicken wings ($6 during happy hour) with a crackly, crispy exterior; adobo tacos ($7 during happy hour) that come with two roasted chicken and two short rib tacos; and the massive farro and brussels salad ($16) with pan seared scallops.
They serve brunch on weekends, too. Their French toast varies, but the blackberry lemon curd ($11) version I tried was equally sweet and tart. Even better was the fried jidori chicken and green chili cornbread waffles ($13). Well seasoned with a thin, crispy crust, the chicken sat atop mildly spiced, savory waffles covered in a gravy full of bacon bits. Topped with a fried egg, the brunch version differs from the one on their regular menu which has more chicken and no egg.
With a large menu, it’s not unexpected to have dishes that fall flat. I wasn’t a fan of the broccoli or salt and vinegar chips in the chorizo mac and cheese ($7). And, the grits in the shrimp and white cheddar grits dish ($15) was too soupy and runny for my liking. The fig and prosciutto pizza ($12) lacked enough prosciutto to balance out the overpowering sweetness of the figs. A better choice of flatbreads is the wild mushroom and taleggio with a more earthy and savory profile.
Their beer list changes frequently, but they’ve had some great ones on the menu like Jommegang by Ommegang (a Belgian style dark ale) and Parabloa by Firestone Walker (a Russian imperial stout).
Service has been solid the few times I’ve gone, but the restaurant is so large, with a long rectangular layout, that you can see servers struggling to race to the bar to pick up drinks, race to the kitchen on the other end to grab food, and race back to the tables. I think all the servers act as food runners and bussers too so the amount of work they have to do isn’t conducive to great customer service. It’s an issue with management and the layout more than anything, but often reflects poorly on the servers.
Despite a few minor hiccups, this California-based chain has shown that you can achieve local appeal with a diverse menu more typical of home grown gastropubs.
— Review updated: July 25, 2016 —
Despite being a chain restaurant, Public School 702 manages to produce some quality dishes and features one of the better beer lists in town with seasonal and rotating brews finding their way onto the menu. The cocktail program will also change things up with new drinks now and then. Earlier in the summer I stopped by to try some of their summer items and was impressed by their version of a mule — Crushed Velvet ($12) — with Titos vodka, black and blue reduction, and lavender. Other cool and refreshing drinks included Sake to Me ($10; sake, lime, muddled strawberry, mint) and the Guavalajara ($10; tequila, guava, basil, lemon, orange bitters).
As for the food, you won’t find a prettier salad than their grilled watermelon and heirloom tomato stack ($10), equally satisfying and instagram-worthy. The summer vibe continued with Pizza di verdure ($13) topped with zucchini, arrabbiata “angry” sauce, and goat cheese. The thin crust, acidity, and lightness of it all was fitting for the season. Their meatballs and linguine ($17) was a bit too spicy for my tastes, but still a solid dish. Rounding out our tasting was a strawberry shortcake heavy on the mint, but impressive with its housemade biscuits topped with strawberries and cream.
They may have pared down the menu from when they first opened, but their food is still a step above similar restaurants at their price point.
1850 Festival Plaza Dr
Las Vegas, NV 89135