Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chicago - Publican

When going to Chicago, The Publican has to be on your list of places to eat. It's simply that good. On our recent trip around the Midwest, my one request in Chicago was this restaurant because I had seen it on Food Network for their homemade spicy pork rinds. We decided to go for brunch because it best fit our schedule.

First let's discuss the theme and atmosphere. A publican, according to, is "The keeper of a public house or tavern." Translated into a restaurant, The Publican has a large open room with long tables, creating a public house feel. In the center of the room near the bar are several high tables perfect for drinks or appetizers. The bathroom too keeps up this feel which a communal sink shared by each the his and her stalls.

The food centers around beer, as the dictionary definition lends, and proteins. There is an amazing beer selection, but for brunch they also had a few specials for recommended pairing. The brunch menu was a nice size and variety. I decided to go towards breakfast and my husband towards lunch. They greeted us with complimentary coffee, at least it appeared so on the bill. When out to brunch a really good cup of coffee is important to me, and this was just that. Back to the "communal" theme, the milk and sugar were shared on the table. My husband opted for a bloody mary ($7), served with a sidecar of beer; I'm not one for bloody mary, but this is the first I have ever actually enjoyed.

Knowing of the famed spicy pork rinds ($5) we had to get an order. I hate to admit this, but they were delicious. Yes, I said it. I liked the spicy fried pork skin. The entree options are seasonal and therefore always changing, but here's an idea of what they have to offer. For an entree I had an egg scramble with house bresaola (a cured pork product), baby squash, zucchini, and goat cheese, accompanied by sourdough toast. ($10) My husband enjoyed a pork shoulder sandwich topped with a fried egg and cole slaw and french fries on the side. ($14)

As I said when I started this post. This was an amazing meal. The restaurant is in Fulton Market which is kind of off the regular tourist path, but I recommend anyone make the effort to get there. The prices aren't overly high, which seems hard to come by in this city and the atmosphere is sure to bring out the jovial pub lover in everyone.

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