First Look: Public School 214, a West Village gastropub with a school house feel, opens January 29

The area code-obsessed California interloper Public School 214 opens its Dallas school house-themed bar and grill this Thursday, January 29. When exec chef Phil Kastel heads back to PS HQ, Whiskey Cake Kitchen alum Jason Wade will take over as PS214’s top chef.

Wade is a guy who knows a thing or two about making a great burger. That’s why I wasn’t the least bit surprised that my favorite dish on PS214’s tight menu is the Huntsman burger, a hefty ground chuck patty sandwiched between a toasted brioche bun stuffed with balsamic onions, bibb lettuce, a starburst of tomato and a slice of huntsman cheese. (When double Gloucester and Stilton Bleu get together in a English dark cave, their love child is huntsman cheese.)

The restaurant has a old school house theme. Lots of yellowed woods, metal-backed seats, walls made to look like folded gym bleachers. Local yearbook covers – purchased from Half Price Books and rummage sales – line one wall, another is shelved with desk globes, and multiplication flashcards hang like dance cards over the bar.

I peeked backstage and peered into a cavernous walk-in refrigerator, where I saw dozens of shelves filled with fresh produce and dairy. This place prides itself on its made-in-house ethos.

In addition to that Huntsman burger, the fish and chips – lightly battered cod whose crispness is the result of rice flour, corn flour, seltzer water and beer – is another good choice. If you’re into tater tots, you’d be happy with PS214’s version, stuffed with bacon and cheddar. Salads, more fried stuff, pizzas, chicken, short ribs, shrimp and grits fill out most of the report card. If you’re vegetarian, PS214 will accommodate you (the roasted poblano stuffed with quinoa, black beans, squash, lime creme and pepitas is a fine choice).

All the usual Dallas gastropub trappings are there, too: Craft beers and cocktails, house-made tonic, big patio. But they’ve gone one better here, installing USB charging ports just below the bar counter. And parking in the 3700M garage is a breeze.

Public School 214, 3700 McKinney Ave., Dallas, 214-599-6234 or