Aside from exotic cars, sports and beautiful women, beer and pork rank high on the list of things that occupy significant brain space for most red-blooded men. Combine these modern day nectar and ambrosia with a massive, communal walnut table set up in a racetrack style, along with warm globe lighting suspended from the ceiling and impeccable service, and you have The Publican Restaurant in Chicago. Okay, so you may never matriculate at Kingsford University, but you can make your way to the Windy City for one decadent evening at this European beer hall style establishment at 845 W. Fulton that certainly delivers the respective goods. For our full review, read more on the next page.
The first thing you notice is the interior of the restaurant, welcoming and stark, all at once, and nonetheless beautiful. You’ll instantly gravitate to the smells emanating from the kitchen and be drawn in visually by the artful simplicity. Uncomplicated farmhouse cuisine is the spirit of this establishment, an d all dishes are presented without unnecessary garnish. Instead, they are laid out in gorgeous Spartan style, showcasing the beauty of the course itself, unadorned by edible shrubbery and unadulterated by ornate, gilded plates. The beermaster introduced us to their plethora of craft beer that was carefully chosen to complement the fare, causing a group-wide, simultaneous drool to break out. We then indulged in the savory charcuterie plate with pork terrine and their signature head cheese, followed by potted rillettes with cherries on sourdough, Wisconsin sweetbreads and heavenly porchetta.
The poultry of the evening was their signature roasted whole chicken with frites, which disappeared in a matter of minutes. These certified organic meats were rife with flavor and perpetuated both the flow of beer and conversation. Their locally grown corn, roasted with butter, curry and aioli, along with beets in ricotta, pecans and balsamic vinegar topped off the repast. To our chagrin, we were simply too sated to indulge in their fresh oysters and aged hams, which will have to wait until our next shark feeding frenzy. The Publican is, in a word, magnetic. If you haven’t been, you haven’t lived.
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By Amos Kwon