Monday, February 21, 2011

The Publican

Unafraid to be different!

Some cities just do food better than others.

Shame on anyone that visits places like San Francisco or Seattle, New Orleans or New York, Toronto or Chicago and does not eat well!

Chicago is certainly one of those places where the food scene thrives.

And this evening, visiting Chicago, I can safely say I enjoyed one of the most memorable dining experiences I've had in a long time.

In fact, it was this just this side of amazing. 

Now, having said this, keep in mind I just returned from 2 weeks in France. So I am in a "good food" frame of mind.

The restaurant was called The Publican and before a visit to TripAdvisor this morning I had never heard of it.

But there it was earning a TripAdvisor rank of #3 for all of Chicagoland. 

The restaurant describes itself as delivering "simple farmhouse fare". But that is bunk. It delivers artful, inspired, gutsy cuisine in a wonderfully plain, yet elegant, setting. 

The Publican is one-of-a-kind mash-up between blue collar and rustic. In keeping with the blue collar side it features beer over wine. Yet the wine selection goes beyond the usual suspects and emphasizes remarkably affordable, yet perfect, selections from Argentina, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand.  

There is a clear emphasis on fresh ingredients from trusted providers. 

Many tables are communal and that is consistent with the notion that dishes here are to be shared. We shared an apple salad, a taste of three hams, provencal fisherman's stew, farm chicken with summer sausage, salmon with artichokes faro and aioli, roast suckling pig, shaved brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes. For the adventurous, there are things like sweetbreads and head cheese on this menu!

For dessert we ordered some french-press coffee along with pear crumble with tart cherries, chocolate cake, and a waffle with honey butter and strawberry jam.

The service was great. The waiter, when asked for a wine suggestion, actually directed us to one of the least expensive wines on the menu (how often does that happen?) It was superb. He was there when we needed him and was gone when we didn't. 

The food, two bottles of wine, coffee and dessert with tip came in at under $60 a head. 


Put this very special place in the Fulton Market on your list of restaurants that you MUST try. Reservations are by Open Table, but don't be surprised if the next available reservation is 2-3 weeks out. We did not let that put us off and called.

Despite short notice, our willingness to take a very early slot (5:30 PM) for our party of six got us a table on the same night.

Check out The Publican here:

A final note. After I reached my hotel I realized I had forgotten my sketchbook in the restaurant. I called to see if they'd mail it to me. A couple of hours later they delivered it to my hotel.

As if there weren't already enough good reasons to admire and love Chicago......

Roadboy's Travels © 2011

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