837 West Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Phone; (312) 445-8977
Executive Chef; Chef Paul Kahan – Chef de cuisine; Brian Huston
$$$ – American & European fusion
“The Publican” was a nice and pleasant surprise – a very odd place in a great way – because seating is like massive banquet tables and the high back chairs have shelving underneath for bags and clothing, very few private tables and 3 “ stand up waiting tables” in the middle – English pub style. It was a bit like going back to the 1600 century in décor – very plain and rustic. Only wall decoration are big pictures of pigs in rustic colours. Understand why it’s so popular, it was fully booked and filling up as guests leaving, my table was booked for 8pm.
They had contacted me at the hotel to make sure I hadn’t forgotten my reservation, but when I arrived they didn’t have a private table, maybe they wanted to be thoughtful with me, lonely female diner – witch I never asked for … so I was sat down by the first banquet table. The atmosphere was loud and noisy – a fantastic buzz to the place.
When I looked around I could see that most of the guest in parties of 3 and over where all sharing dishes – beer was the main beverages and it what I understand it’s a beer drinking establishment and specialized on Belgium beers.
Jamie, my waitress was where very busy, but she took time to explain the whole idea about the sharing of dishes – that they encouraged for parties over two.
“The Publican” so different from the “Blackbird” that is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago – belongs to the same family – One Off Hospitality Group – that owns bars and restaurants in the center of Chicago. Every restaurants with a different food concept and settings. They also have their own meat company –“Publican Quality Meats” – it’s a butcher shop with a cafe with 300 retail products, open only shop hours and weekends.
A very interesting set up. The butcher shop & cafe is just across the street to the restaurant.
“The Publican” are famous for their pork dishes, charcuterie, oysters and fresh fish – and a lot of the guests had oysters as starter – they also have a big seafood platter.
Didn’t have a starter, because I had a fantastic chicken salad for lunch on Chicago River Walk – and was a still a bit full up when it was time for “The Publican”.
My blogging sister “Creative Noshing” have done posts about “grits” and I haven’t felt too confident about that dish … so when I saw they had pork belly with grits – I decided to go for that. Love pork belly and it gave me a chance to taste what grits is all about.
On their menu its also stated where the meat, fish, seafood and cheeses are coming from. My pork belly came from “Slagel Family Farm”, Fairbury, Ill. Very nice touch. Their website is really nice with loads of happy pigs, eggs and family members. Check it out.
I had a vodka & tonic while checking out the menu … order 250ml of a Cote de Rhone red with the meal (because I don’t like beer). There was time for me to finish my drink before my food arrived, something I find very annoying when the food arrives before the pre-dinner drink has been finished. It US is it very common because some guests even drink the drink with their food. So that was a good start. With my drink I got sour pickled vegetables on a plate and a very generous portion; cauliflower florets, cucumber and beans (what I can remember) – very tasty, rustic and a great idea because the tanginess in the vegetables will make you drink more.
“Pork Belly with Collard Greens, Grits and Peanuts” was my main course and as a side order I had “Market Vegetables with a Poached Egg” – the meal was superb and the grits was okay with the pork belly, but it’s anything I would eat in any other way. The Market Vegetables was wonderful and it was a massive plate of it – I eat all of it. The pork belly was cooked to perfection- it fell apart when only putting the fork into it.
Next to me sat 3 young men … and we started talking – one had his family roots in Germany – one was pure American and the 3rd guy had Irish and Norwegian blood in his veins. They were drinking beer and eating .. sharing loads of dishes. A really nice dinner company. They brighten my evening up. Around 30-35 maybe.
I went for “Brown Butter Almond Cake” that where served with something the they called earl grey gastrique – it’s sauce that is glazed with fruit and vinegar – they had used tea. Also served with ricotta cheese, fresh raspberries and almond croquant. A really nice and refreshing dessert.
There was nothing fancy about any of the pretention and the food talked for itself. Well prepared, fresh, tasty and very comforting. Excellent meal – Excellent service.
A place I really recommend if visiting Chicago – but it’s not a place for a romantic dinner for two … its lively and loud. Just like me – and the whole experience where worth every penny.
The whole damage came to $73.00/€58.00/£46.50 before tips.
Big thanks to Jamie, who really took her time with me – so helpful, pleasant and service minded.
“If you want a subject, look to pork!”
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