26 July 2009

The Publican

The Publican: an homage to beer and pork. Owned and operated by Executive Chef Paul Kahan & Co. (of Blackbird and avec), the Publican was essentially the number one restaurant on my list of places to try. I decided to take an easy out this afternoon and head to the West Loop hot spot for brunch. I was not disappointed. Everything about this place is cool; the interior (which won a design award from the James Beard Foundation) is warm and inviting, and the walls are decorated with pictures of pigs. Maybe not the place for vegetarians, but perfect for me!

After ordering a pork shoulder sandwich and a glass of Goose Island Matilda, I was given a Bloody Mary and some slices of house-smoked salmon from a very friendly bartender. A Bloody Mary at the Publican is created with a housemade mix and is topped off with a mixture of finely diced celery, red pepper, and horseradish, and finished with a little balsamic and a wedge of both lemon and lime. The salmon was fantastic as well - soft and smooth with a beautiful color and a perfectly smoked taste.

I surprised myself by eating only about half of my sandwich (the other half is in the fridge). Aside from the pork being tender and delicious (especially with a fried egg on top), it needs to be said: the Publican serves my favorite french fries in Chicago (so far). Fried in a combination of animal fat and vegetable oil, these spuds are perfectly crispy and salted.

I finished my meal with a piece of moist coffee cake, homemade with nuts and in-season berries. Then the aforementioned friendly bartender asked if I'd like to see the kitchen and meet their pastry chef, Becky. Talk about a great meal and overall experience. I'm sure I'll be back many times, both to eat and (hopefully) to stage, which is a fancy way of saying "job shadow."

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