J.R. Moehringer would not recognize Publicans. The classic Manhasset pub, immortalized in the author’s 2005 memoir “The Tender Bar,” has been made over into a sleek gastropub where grizzled tipplers are outnumbered by high-heeled Soul Cyclists. The wood is reclaimed, the bricks are exposed, the glossy white tiles whisper “subway,” and the menu features quinoa and kale
Publicans was the second tavern to occupy this Plandome Road spot. The first, Dickens, opened in 1948 and was succeeded by Publicans in 1977. From 1999 until last year, the sign on the door said Edison’s.
Now the establishment has been entirely renovated by Imian Partners, a Connecticut-based real estate and hospitality company whose other restaurants include Local Café & Cocktails and Lucy’s Cantina Royal at One Penn Plaza in Manhattan.
Publicans’ general manager Michael King said that resuscitating the property was a “passion project” for one of Imian’s partners, John Heil, who lives locally. Heil also brought Manhasset resident Sean Peters on board as an investor.
In the week that Publicans 2.0 has been open, King said he’s come to appreciate what the place has meant to the town. “Every day someone says to me, ‘I had my first drink here,’ ‘I met my wife here,’ ‘We held our first child’s christening here.’ ”
No matter the tenant, the kitchens of 550 Plandome Rd. tended to focus on pub standards such as burgers and shepherd’s pie. Publicans offers three half-pound burgers ($18-$19) — which are gussied up with the likes of garlic aioli, arugula or a sunny-side-up egg — but the rest of the concise menu strays into New American territory with starters such as pan-seared shishito peppers ($7) and a charcuterie plate ($18), mains such as roasted chicken with Brussels sprouts and polenta with Humboldt Fog goat cheese ($23) and steak frites with chimichurri sauce ($26). Of course there’s kale and quinoa salad ($14).
Chef Rich Schoenacher was born and bred in Hicksville before decamping to California where his last position was as executive chef at St. Michael’s Alley in Palo Alto.
At the bar are more than a dozen beers on tap, including local brews from Lithology (Farmingdale) and Blue Point (Patchogue). Cocktails include The Manhasset, made with Long Island Spirits Rough Rider bourbon, Carpano Antica vermouth, Hellas bitters and orange.
Publicans opens at 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. The kitchen closes at 10 p.m. on weekdays, 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
550 Plandome Rd., Manhasset, 516-627-7722, publicansmanhasset.com