Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Publican

So after our disappointing dinner at Blackbird, we tried to scale it down a notch and take on some more casual fare at Publican.  I only just found out now that they are restaurants from the same chef, Paul Kahan.  I was surprised to find this out since the food could not have been more different.  Blackbird was modern, innovative, and frankly disappointing.  Publican was comforting, unpretentious, new American food that knocked our (Dumpling Man, Buff Bear, Mega Man aka Bruin Bear, and I) socks off.  The place is pretty spacious and loud so it may not have been the best place to catch up with old friends, but the food was impeccable.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Burrata  shaved parmesan, red onions, lemon shallot vinaigrette
Wow, who knew you could shave brussels sprouts into a salad??  This is definitely one recipe I shall be trying very soon.  Lucky me for finding it online!  It was really a tart, creamy dressing that was nicely smoothed out by the delicious burrata.

Hamachi Crudo
A good refreshing little niblet.  I loved the fresh sweet peas accompanying the hamachi.

Smoked Artic Char
Not my favorite dish of the night since there was that expected smokey fishy flavor, but I loved  all the accompaniments.  It made the dish solid and comforting.

Chef's Selection of Oysters
Who knows which oysters were which.  Honestly, I'll eat any oyster and they all taste good to me.  I think we may have converted Mega Man to any oyster liker.  Her hubster loves this stuff, and so she was doing her best to like the stuff too.  Meanwhile, Buff Bear, Dumpling Man, and I were joyously scarfing these down.

Pork Belly
I would not have ordered this decadent porky part, but this was Buff Bear's choice and boy did he make a good one.  It was meltingly tender, caramelized to a savory sweetness.  Probably one of the best preparations of pork belly I've had.

The scallops did not disappoint in the slightest.  Fresh, sweet, salty, caramelized, crispy.

Farm Chicken sausage and frites
Although the chicken looked pretty ho hum, notice the lack of bright vibrant colors, it was pretty moist and delicious.  The fries and sausage certainly weren't bad either.

The desserts fell a little short.  This was some sort of cheesecake in a cup I think with some fruit topping.  I liked it, but it wasn't terribly impressive.

Waffle honey butter, berry conserve
The waffle was just whatever.  It tasted like something you whipped up in your home waffle maker.  It was definitely on the light fluffy side with a delicate crisp on the outside.

Publican has got to be one of the most solid restaurants in Chicago.  I think it really embodies what the Chicago food is about, down home unpretentious eats with a good focus on flavor.  I would highly recommend Publican to any visitor, especially if you love pork because they definitely do that well here.  The downside of the restaurant is that it's so hard to narrow down your choices to order because the menu is so large!  Come hungry and you won't be disappointed.  Oh, I think I forgot to mention the LARGE selection of beers offered here.  I'm not much of a beer person, but I think those who are will be pretty excited by this place.

837 West Fulton Market
Chicago, IL  60607


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