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Taps: 12 / Bottles: 46
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
837 W Fulton Market
phone: (312) 733-9555
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vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$$
Been there a couple of times now, it does rival Hopleaf as a beer and food place to go.
It is a big open location, described nicely by others below, I just want add that there is a bar where you can eat and drink, also standing tables, then long Europe type tables, think of Octoberfest in Germany, then there are finally closed door tables where you can have a bit of privacy. It is not so loud so you can have decent conversation, I don't even remember music playing which is fine. Overall a rowdy and fun place to eat and drink, and people watch.
Upscale food, including fish (excellent oysters), meats, interesting vegetable choices. Everything was top quality, including the beer. My mate had a Hanssens strawberry from 2001? 3 different servers came over to comment on how great this beer was, and all food and drink was greatly enjoyed.
Sevice is attentive, a bit sloppy at times but they really focus alot of people on your needs. The best one there is Michael, the beer sommelier, who has deep knowledge of the beer list, and I believe put it together. He also orders the drafts. Unfortunately he is only one man, and the waiters try to know the list as well but sometimes come up short. Do ask for Michael if you go, or ask something very esoteric (what kind of hops are in this IPA, I really like Challenger?) and they will call him over.
Selection of food is great, of beer very good, many unusualities from the 80+ bottles. They now have 12 taps plus one cask of great selections as well. Assume 1/2 craft, 1/2 Belgian, with a few Germans, British, with a Jolly Pumpkin, full slate of The Bruery, and Matilda to boot. I put Hopleaf's 30+ taps plus 100 plus bottles above this but no other restaurants (certainly many bars, e.g. Maproom, Local Option).
Dishes come in variable sizes, many to share. The value is decent given the quality, but expect food to run $40 - $50 per head plus beer here which is rather pricey. For true Chicago gastropubs you must consider this and Hopleaf a tie at the top.
01-10-2010 18:29:18 |
More by robbyc1
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$$
The Publican is a solid restaraunt that happens to have a decent selection of beer. the place looks like an old Norse dining hall that was transplanted to the West Loop, with new finishes and updated glassware and utensils. that being said, the food is exceptional and the beers are very inteligently chosen.
atmosphere is upscale restaraunt meets the aformentioned old Norse hall. bold and strong wooden furniture throughout, all medium toned with just-as-bold heavy wooden tap handles at the bar. booths along the far wall close off into their own spaces, which gives a cozy and private dining experience while still being a part of the overall space.
service and quality are near-perfect. artisan dining with great beers. focus of the menu is on pork and other meat dishes, with a good beer list of around ten taps and around 75 or so bottles. everything is a bit pricey, but the quality makes up for the price difference.
food is quite good. pork is definitely the focus, but all the food seen and tried was great.
overall, the Publican is an excellent restaraunt in the West Loop; the only complaint is the location, without too much around except for the street markets that close their doors mid-afternoon. that being said, once inside the patrons are transported to old Scandinavia. an excellent stop for those in the downtown area of Chicago. cheers!
10-08-2009 17:51:09 |
More by botham
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
The Publican reminds me of a modernist's interpretation of the great hall in Beowulf. The mood is lively and festive, with a good mix of foodies, beer lovers, and the trendy. The space itself is nothing more than a rectangle of a room, with large communal tables in the middle, boxed-in booths to the side and a gathering on two-tops near the front. Tall, stoic, boxy timber chairs sit with their wooden table counterparts. Earthen tones and wood dominate the structure, while globe lights hang from the ceiling in compact, orderly rows.
More impressive than the room itself is the beer list. There are 8 or so taps, about 10 times as bottles, and a cask ale, all representing a fine mix of the local (2Brothers, FFF, Surly) and the not so local (Germans, Belgians, French farmhouse). These are all quality beers and while there may be some offerings which are little more commercial than others, I spotted some true rarities and the menu even listed a bottle of New Glarus. For the most part prices are reasonable (between $5-$7 for a draft), but some of the prices were exorbitant (JP Bam for $23, and FFF Behemoth for $36!).
The food is retrospective, with a focus on old-school charcuterie, shellfish, and pickles. Simply put, the food is excellent, though I did at times feel it was somewhat redundant and lacking in creativity. For example, we ordered both the charcuterie plate and the potee, which turned out to be very similar dishes, even down to the addition of gherkins in both. However, since the food itself was so damn good, its hard to complain when you're getting more of a goof thing.
My only qualm with Publican would be the service, and even that was very good. However, my issue stemmed from my server being spread among too many tables, resulting in me having to continually ask for items, most notably beer, which I had to request on three separate occasions during my meal. Maybe if the restaurant itself added another server or two during busy nights, they could head off this inconvenience. Otherwise I will say my server exhibited quite the beer knowledge, was overtly friendly, and, when he was available to do so, attended to our needs without complaint.
Prices are not cheap, but in consideration for the quality of both the beer and food, I still felt they were very reasonable.
10-06-2009 02:40:12 |
More by Florida9
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$$
To say I had been anxiously awaiting my Friday night reservations (booked 4 weeks in advance) would be one of the understatements of the year - i could barely contain my intrigue.
when they say it's located in the meatpacking district, thats not just some cute city rhetoric about an old reformed district. its literally in a meatpacking district. we walked from the loop, past the chocolate factory, under the interstate and through some crummy streets. Cabs were waiting when we left fortunately.
we rolled in at around 7:30 and left no earlier than 11. This place was absolutely buzzing - no wonder this was the new restaurant of the year in Chicago and is generating tons of national attention.
the interior is warehouse-style with thoughtful lighting, family style tables, boxcar style tables, and lots of bar space that is rotated as possible.
the beer list is one long page with about 8 taps and a bunch of bottles. there is nothing even close to pedestrian on this list - bottles of cantillon, obscure french and belgians, old rasputin xxi, plenty of lambics/geuze. Markups seemed reasonable given the quality and attention given to beer. impossible to not drink well here. it should be noted that this is not a bar. dont plan on coming here on a busy night and not eating - you wont even get in the door.
all that said, this place is about the FOOD...one of the most incredible restaurants i have ever eaten at - i didnt want to leave. This place pays homage to the pig like no other - oh and shellfish too. Started with chef's samplers of oysters and aged hams, moved into some pork skins, some mussels, and 2 FANTASTIC entrees (pork shoulder with clams and chorizo, sweetbreads with a lobster cream sauce).
service was slow but people here are forced to know their menu. our $150 2-person bill was reduced to approximately $100 after receiving some of the mentioned items for free. i couldnt have cared less - i wanted a 3 hour dinner and thats what i got.
08-31-2009 01:58:11 |
More by dirtylou
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$$
If you live in chicago you need to visit. If you were like me and a traveler go out of your way and stop in. However before you go plan and make reservations the place was packed.
I went on a Saturday night and fortunately made reservations that day for 6 showed up at 5 to sit and the bar. boy was i surprised to see this place. I expected upscale and it met my expectations
we sat by the bar and had mussels to do with our two drafts. and were later showed to our tables. We spent almost 4.5 hours in there eating and drinking,
Food - i would say belguim/french style. Seafood I had both the mussels and the seafood stew . both were outstanding. My friend had the pork belly . everyone around was enjoying the food.
Atmosphere one long u shape table were you sit and meet your neighbors talk beer, and food. it was great fun. I could see spending many a night eating and drinking in here
Beer selection: the selections leans to belguims and belguims made elsewhere. the staff was extrenely knowledgable and made excellant recommendation. Ended the night with a Surly 3 (ok 2 surly 3s)
a great place to expiernce beer and food
06-11-2009 04:52:57 |
More by Gratefullawyer
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$
I have been back several times. It has been consistently great (food & beer) and everyone I have taken here loves it. You have got to check it out!
Original Review 4-30-10
All I can say is WOW. This is a great place and I really hope they have a long and successful run.
Located the in the Fulton Meat packing district, there is plenty of on-street parking or you would take the Halsted Street bus and make the short walk over. Note that when we left there were plenty of taxis.
As you enter the vestibule, the hostess station & restaurant are to your left. The interesting bathrooms are to your right. Note that they bathrooms do not have sinks, but there is a very unique community sink located right outside the bathroom doors.
One of the neat aspects of the Publican is the large communal tables. While there are a few small tables, and few tables where your stand, the odds are that you will be sitting next to someone you don't know. This is great though as the atmosphere is so friendly it really lends itself to conversation. Speaking of conversation, the only downside of this place is the steady roar of noise. I think they have bit to much wood and should get some damping material on the floor or walls. I loved the oil paintings of the pigs!
The beer list is expansive and well thought out. Big emphasis on beers from Belgium and Belgian inspired US & Canadian beers. Note that they have some exclusive options from Goose Island. Prices range from a reasonable $5 for a Jolly Pumpkin & Goose Island to all the way up to $70 for some rare large bottles. The wine list is impressive, but I would say 80% of the patrons are drinking beer.
The food is fantastic. They emphasis is on pork but they also offer good fish & seafood choices. I've been told that they get a whole organic pig every Friday and that this is what they use the entire week.
We started with the spicy homemade pork rinds and then had the three-ham sampler platter. I liked they way they brought out the entrees one at time so we could share. We had the smelt, a nice salmon, fantastic chicken and some of the best pork ribs I've ever had. Desert was waffles.
The tab for four with tip was $260. $65 per person is cheap considering the quality of the food, the excellent service and really great beers.
Do yourself a favor and make tracks to this wonderful restaurant/bar.
04-30-2009 18:29:51 |
More by Redrover
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$$
Made a point to visit over the weekend, at 3:30 when they opened. The beer director is BA RadioFlyer, and he was there to talk beer with us the whole time. He was an encyclopedia of beer knowledge (also an avid homebrewer), and shared samples with us, which was fun. The main draw for me were the exclusive Goose Island "experimental" specialties, such as Madame Rose, Matilda Framboise, and various Saisons using single Brett strains. Service was very prompt, helpful, and sincere. They even offered complimentary still or sparking bottled water. Be advised though, it's is a high-end establishment...reservations recommended for dinner.
The beer list is very well designed (available online), and organized into the following sections: Draught, Trappist, Belgian-micro, Abbey Style, Methode Champenoise, Lambics (all traditional), Flemish Red/Bruin, Saison, Biere de Garde, German, Danmark, Norwegian, Finnish, British Isles, Swedish, and American. Drafts rotate fairly often, currently the highlights were Matilda Framboise, Hopsinjoor, Flossmoor Pullman Brown, and Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek. Drafts ranged from $5-9, and bottles were $5 for Avery IPA, up to $50 for Deus and Lou Pepe Framboise. The list was eclectic and varied, but seemed to focus most on Belgian Saison/Lambic/Biere de garde. I was happy to see Jolly Pumpkin offered here, and look forward to the beer dinner planned for May (edit: never happened).
We ordered off the "snacks" menu (available from 3:30-5:30), and not from the full dinner menu. Spicy pork rinds, frites with aioli, a trio of aged hams, and L'Etivaz, a Swiss Gruyere style cheese. The frites were a standout paired with the beer, cooked in beef tallow, and my favorite in the city. The menu was a perfect compliment to the beer, sort of high-end "deli/junk food" if you will. My favorite ham was la quercia rossa, the sample trio was $18...if you get a reservation for dinner here, expect it to be in the "$$$-$" range. Everything on the small menu was under $20, with the exception of the chef's selection of a dozen oysters ($30). I'm planning a return visit to try the mussels steamed in Cuvée René.
Atmosphere was clean and modern, lots of brass and wood, with shades of brown everywhere, even the staff's coats. The bar was low (with seats), with uniform wooden tap handles towering above. Taps were identified by small dangling engraved brass medallions. An army of globe lanterns above cast a soft light as the last bit of daylight ebbed from the front windows. There were giant illustrated canvas prints of equally giant hogs on the walls. It was an ultramodern shrine to the other white meat...
Edit: After returning for dinner last night, i'd put the food score at 5. We shared the suckling pig and sweetbreads dishes, which were worthwhile and then some. The Kumamoto oyster was a bit gritty with sand or shell pieces, otherwise everything was flawless. Right up to the pigpen corral tables which were surprisingly un-claustrophobic. Oh yeah... and Older Viscosity on tap :)
2011: After a half dozen visits, Publican always impresses. Whether it's just drinks at the bar, brunch, or dinner. They have earned their spot as an innovator in the local dining/beer scene.
A side note, the private "stockyard stall" tables are inspired by the restaurant's Fulton Market location, which has been one of Chicago's meatpacking districts for the better part of a century. Also inspired by the "snugs" of european taverns. More info: http://designbureaux.site.aplus.net/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/ThePublicanDesignReferences.jpg
2012: Drafts still start out at $5 (Zombie Dust), so if that's "expensive" you'd better stick to PBR... They also do a house lambic doux blend that is occasionally available.
02-02-2009 00:27:35 |
More by emerge077
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
I should have known what I was getting in to when I saw The Publican in Food & Wine magazine, a Zagat's feature, and the WHERE magazine in my Chicago hotel room. I should have known better than to show up at 9:30 on a Saturday night. Would have, should have, could have.
We drove five hours from Cincinnati to Chicago for a weekend of good beer and food. The Publican made its way to the top of our list. Not much information in BA or online and an untimely, day-after response from RadioFlyer who was posting The Publican's beer list the prior week to regional forums...
"Not sure if you were here this weekend, or if its next, but the best thing to do is go as early as you can on a weekend. We just started taking reservations so this may be of help, but to be honest we get so crowed on the weekends. If it were me I would go as early as 4:30 get a beer and snack, then at 5:30 the full menu is available. Monday through Wednesday is normally safe and Sundays are always fun, but on sundays we have a prefixed family style menu. Unfortunately our bar seating is small and maybe not ideal, if you'd like more private dining ask for a booth or a separate table for two. if your fine with communal dining ask to be seated at one of the long tables. Hope this help cheers and happy holidays"
The reservation policy hit us hard. Website says no reservations except Sunday. We got shut out. Should have went with my gut and arrived early - like when they opened. The staff handled our contained displeasure well. Someone even got the chef to write out the Sunday prix fixe menu.
I'm dismissing all of this as growing pains. I'm extremely excited to see this type of beer-forward movement. It's on our list for dinner during our next biannual visit to the city.
Located in what I believe to be the (old) stockyard area of Chicago. Very much like the meatpacking district in Manhattan. Not much from the outside except cabs and cars coming and going. A block or two to the east is major, upscale residential development. Inside is a wide open, light-colored space crowded and very noisy. The Allman Brother's and Gratfeul Dead as house music? Listen close. Nice.
We stopped the Friday night before at Flossmoor which tapped Surly Darkness on Thursday. They were out when we arrived around 6. The Publican tapped the same thing earlier in the week and it was still flowing. I mention this because the clientele, and the restaurant for that matter, is more food than beer. Smartly-dressed, successful professionals dominated the crowd on this Saturday evening. The people and place are atypical of the hundreds of BA-reviewed establishments I've visited. In my book, this is a good thing. Just know what you're getting in to. Also keep in mind the bar area is comprised of standing stations with no seats.
On with the beer. The beer menu is categorized by draught, trappist Belgium, micro Belgium, abbey style Belgium, methode champenoise, lambics, Flemish red/bruin, saisons Wallonia, biere de garde france, german, Denmark, finnish, Norwegian, british isles, Swedish, and American. Ninety beers in all.
They provide complete, formal descriptions of the beer which I got a kick out of.
Brasserie de Rochefort [Abbey de Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy], Rochefort, Belgium
Trappist Rochefort 8 [11.2 oz] - 9.20% - $13
Might someone be confusing their Rochefort 8's? How did the majority handle this? It seemed as if most were drinking the Trappist varieties. I would have preferred less focus on formal descriptions and more guidance with characteristics and pairings. I also like books with color pictures.
Monchshof Schwarzbier - $5
Alpha King Pale Ale - $5
Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter - $6
De Koninck, Brouwerij De Koninck NV - $6
Matilda - $7
Gulden Draak - $7
Surly Darkness - $7
Scaldis De Noel - $7
Wiesen Edel-Weisse - $8
Saison Claussenii - $9
Cidre Bouche Brut Dupont - $10
Kriekbier - $10
I had the Surly which was about 10 oz.
American bottle varieties from Avery, Great Lakes, Founders, North Coast, Three Floyds, Two Brothers, Ommegang, Goose Island, New Holland, Great Divide, and two of my favorites - Jolly Pumpkin and Allagash.
12-17-2008 22:28:09 |
More by Yetiman420
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The Publican in Chicago, IL