Helen Schwab

First Bite: Davidson Street Public House

The Davidson’s Burger: pimento cheese, bacon, relish, greens, and red pepper aioli on a bun.
The Davidson’s Burger: pimento cheese, bacon, relish, greens, and red pepper aioli on a bun. HELEN SCHWAB

The food: Managing partner Chris Healy (from the Gin Mill in South End) and chef Clayton Sanders of Davidson Street Public House wanted to do something that would fit NoDa and decided on a mashup of tapas, sandwiches and cheffy bar food (as in dry-rubbed wings and pimento cheese fries), with a rotating cast of beer on draft and a cocktail list that should start next week.

That’ll be four or five house versions of classics (margaritas and Sidecars), plus four or five seasonal concoctions from Frances Jones. The overall result, so far, tastes fresh, with just enough grit to suit its surroundings. Those wings, for instance, are fat and meaty and crusty, but sport a surprising sweet edge. Lamb lollipops are dusted with espresso and served over seasonal vegetables, arriving with a nice bit of char.

Burgers stand tall – really tall: The Davidson’s Burger stacks a thick burger (ah, medium rare) between a handful of greens, a slather of pimento cheese, a dollop of sweet-sour relish and two crossed strips of bacon, with plenty of red pepper aioli on that bun top. If you can fit it in your mouth, you’re a better man than I. On the other hand, I’m OK with that, especially while slugging down my goblet of Unknown Dirty Commie Heathen – relax, it’s just a 12.4 percent-alcohol-by-volume Russian Imperial Stout (aged with bourbon-soaked oak and cherries, the menu points out helpfully).

New to the shifting menu is a blackened N.C. trout with Brussels sprouts, and lineups will shift frequently, says Healy. The beer list sports 15 on draft and will rotate, keeping six or seven local, four or five regional and two or three national.

The look: The place went into the space vacated by the short-lived Miyagi’s, and reformulates the space into a pubby little spread – brick and wood and TV screens, a long bar and an open-raftered look that suits the neighborhood. It’s a little noisy with all those hard surfaces, but it feels more communal than crazy.

The service: Nearly everyone did something for every table on our visit, and the only stumble was how long it took to be seen at the front door: We were four deep by the time someone in back spotted us all. There’s not really an ante-space, so it’s tricky. All the servers we talked with had good answers to questions, including about the draft list, always a good sign.

The details: Tapas run about $6-$9 and main plates $12-$16; dinner only right now 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday-Sunday (Sunday has a more limited lineup; plans call for weekend brunch next); 3220 N. Davidson St.; 980-209-9992; davidsonspub.com.

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