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Taps: 12 / Bottles: 46
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
837 W Fulton Market
phone: (312) 733-9555
(Place added by: rhoadsrage on 11-26-2008)
Ratings & Reviews
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| Reviews: 33 | Show All Ratings:
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$$
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 "$$$-$" range. Everything on the small menu was under $20, with the exception of the chef's selection of a dozen oysters ($30). I'm planning a return visit to try the mussels steamed in Cuvée René.
Atmosphere was clean and modern, lots of brass and wood, with shades of brown everywhere, even the staff's coats. The bar was low (with seats), with uniform wooden tap handles towering above. Taps were identified by small dangling engraved brass medallions. An army of globe lanterns above cast a soft light as the last bit of daylight ebbed from the front windows. There were giant illustrated canvas prints of equally giant hogs on the walls. It was an ultramodern shrine to the other white meat...
Edit: After returning for dinner last night, i'd put the food score at 5. We shared the suckling pig and sweetbreads dishes, which were worthwhile and then some. The Kumamoto oyster was a bit gritty with sand or shell pieces, otherwise everything was flawless. Right up to the pigpen corral tables which were surprisingly un-claustrophobic. Oh yeah... and Older Viscosity on tap :)
2011: After a half dozen visits, Publican always impresses. Whether it's just drinks at the bar, brunch, or dinner. They have earned their spot as an innovator in the local dining/beer scene.
A side note, the private "stockyard stall" tables are inspired by the restaurant's Fulton Market location, which has been one of Chicago's meatpacking districts for the better part of a century. Also inspired by the "snugs" of european taverns. More info: http://designbureaux.site.aplus.net/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/ThePublicanDesignReferences.jpg
2012: Drafts still start out at $5 (Zombie Dust), so if that's "expensive" you'd better stick to PBR... They also do a house lambic doux blend that is occasionally available.
02-02-2009 00:27:35 |
More by emerge077
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$$
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: 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
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4 | $$$
Yeah, I guess I am going to have to be an outlier on this one. Maybe we were there too early in the day and the deadness of the place just got to me. Maybe the douchey service or the fact that in an empty restaurant they sat us right next to the only people who were sitting down.
Cool location, loved shopping in the related store down the street. Great beer list, good food, cold and unwelcoming. I was happier at Haymarket up the street. Oh, well.
08-02-2013 16:55:23 |
More by sholland119
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: 1 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | $$$
One of our many stops while hanging in chi-city.
First off everyone in our group hated the atmosphere in this place. The long communal tables and the booths with doors on them. WTF? We joked it looked like some sort of brothel where people could get hand jobs while they eat. So weird. The high back chairs were obnoxiously high. The biggest kicker was having to stand and drink. Seriously? No option to sit unless we were eating. Seemed rather douchey.
The beer list was decent an well put together. We ended up ordering the house made gueuze and lambics. Both were pretty good considering the source.
We weren't there to eat but the menu looked like they had some great options.
Honestly I would only go back here to eat. Not as a beer destination. I'm sure this is where the high marks come from. Otherwise I just don't get it.
10-16-2011 19:27:10 |
More by beerwolf77
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$$
I finally made it out to Publican, a Friday night for drinks and snacks. A typical West Loop joint, meaning modern looking, new and clean, wide open space with adjoined tables. Cool place for having dinner probably not exactly what I want out of a place for drinks. The booths are awesome though as they basically look you in with wooden doors like your in a horse stall...The beer list is organized pretty good, draught then countries and styles. About 10 draft and probably 50 or so bottles. The selection is pretty decent, a lot of base staples, some stuff I've not seen before. Fluxus on tap is nice. The service was decent, talked to 2 people new basic beer stuff and things about the beers available, suggestions were not spot on...The snacks we had were good, nothing special though. The fries were very disappointing, guess I was expecting something Belgianesque. It was not crowded at all for Friday, making me wonder why its impossible to get reservations. Way too expensive for the beer and good.
A cool place to go, would go here for dinner for a special occasion because they have decent beer but I wouldn't come back to just drink. Paramount room is close enough, if downtown head there for cheaper beer with similar quality.
10-09-2010 17:54:09 |
More by jrallen34
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
Visited with my girlfriend for our 4th anniversary dinner in July 2011.
VIBE: pristine and modern decor with beautiful lighting and a comfortable, medium-sized bar. An L-shaped communal table occupies the middle of the restaurant with two-seater "horse stall" booths off to the left and assorted tables adjacent to the patio. Crowd is upscale yuppy and all of the staff wear uniforms. We enjoyed marveling at the breathtaking ambience of this high-end American eatery while eating our meal.
SERVICE: we received impeccable treatment from a young and knowledgeable waiter. He briefly described every single dish on the menu, including portion sizes, and was quite helpful with his recommendations. At one point he brought a plate to the table that we didn't ask for (he thought we did), but he quickly assured us that we wouldn't be charged for it and he apologized for the mistake. I left a 25% tip because we were so thoroughly impressed with the service.
SELECTION: the draught lineup was chock-full of rarities such as Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier, Porterhouse Wrasslers XXXX Stout, and The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel. Throughout our four course dinner, I had a Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow DIPA, Lagunitas Zephyr, and Mikkeller Draft Bear on tap and a Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster DIPA out of the bottle. These beers were among the best that I sampled on our trip to Chicago, and they nicely complimented the hearty food. Much to my relief, the lady loved the wine that she ordered.
FOOD: unbelievable cuisine for surprisingly good prices. We split the Three Hams plate, Market Salad, a delicious fish entree, and a chocolate meringue pie for dessert. All four dishes tasted phenomenal with immaculate presentation. Truly superb fare.
OVERALL: I'm glad we chose this spot for our special occasion. We had a lovely time here and will definitely return in the future. The Publican is an exemplary model of sophisticated dining matched with fine beer, and I highly recommend it to beer geeks and foodies alike.
09-11-2011 21:58:55 |
More by cratez
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$$
The Publican is a solid restaraunt that happens to have a decent selection of beer. the place looks like an old Norse dining hall that was transplanted to the West Loop, with new finishes and updated glassware and utensils. that being said, the food is exceptional and the beers are very inteligently chosen.
atmosphere is upscale restaraunt meets the aformentioned old Norse hall. bold and strong wooden furniture throughout, all medium toned with just-as-bold heavy wooden tap handles at the bar. booths along the far wall close off into their own spaces, which gives a cozy and private dining experience while still being a part of the overall space.
service and quality are near-perfect. artisan dining with great beers. focus of the menu is on pork and other meat dishes, with a good beer list of around ten taps and around 75 or so bottles. everything is a bit pricey, but the quality makes up for the price difference.
food is quite good. pork is definitely the focus, but all the food seen and tried was great.
overall, the Publican is an excellent restaraunt in the West Loop; the only complaint is the location, without too much around except for the street markets that close their doors mid-afternoon. that being said, once inside the patrons are transported to old Scandinavia. an excellent stop for those in the downtown area of Chicago. cheers!
10-08-2009 17:51:09 |
More by botham
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore... On the flip side, this place seems like your nowhere CLOSE to anywhere that is in the United States. Resembles a Prague beer hall with its tall chairs, long tables, closed off booths, and an awesome community sink (like many of the festivals have in Germany/CZ) that is outside of the restrooms. Cool! Now here goes a review of the place.
Outlined with huge portraits of pigs, these guys are lovers of this animal. There was medium traffic in the restaurant when I was here but there were still more employees working then customers. Since I wasn't eating, they sat us at a stand up wooden table and decided this at the door when they ask for your seating choice (can only sit at the beer hall tables if you are dining).
Very clean, woody, and proper glassware and beer practicing here with presentation. Can't get ANY better!
After talking (or trying to have communication) with 2 of the servers, it was very tough! Not sure if they were having talking issues because of what crazy beers that we were about to order or they were just nervous... Strange! One of the Bar Managers did come around and ask about our experience and this was great! Its always awesome to be able to get a few words in with one of the dudes running the place.
I would definitely look at the prices on any brew here before ordering! Have said this, most of them were anywhere from $22-24 on average all the way up to $65. This was were the place was a bit pricey... Also the food list didn't look very appealing for the prices but who knows. Maybe next time I will have a different outlook on the place as far as price vs. experience.
Check out their hours before taking a taxi here. We decided to come on a Sunday @ 3pm and they didn't open until 5. Not a problem since there were plenty of other places around here until they opened but a bit of a hassle w/ Chicago's unfriendly rain and wind this particular day.
10-31-2011 17:35:17 |
More by DCon
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The Publican in Chicago, IL
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