West Loop, Chicago
The publican was a last-minute find based on googling and boy am I glad I found it,
It was a loud atmosphere with a very warm and beer hall like ambience,
Looking at the menu I had no idea what my cousin and I were going to get; we decided to let the chefs choose, ordering the Tasting platter and the crudi (mostly because we just had to try it).
The tasting menu was going to be 8-9 course that were “portioned” to suit the number of people; essentially we were in for a lot of food.
We started the tasting menu off with oysters; they were so fresh and vibrant; some of the best I think I’ve had; this was closely followed by the crudi; two different types of fish flown from Japan’s biggest fish market.
It was unbelievable to see how well it was crafted; simple and select t ingredients excelled with the different fishes really causing the texture and flavour profile to really stand out.
The next dish out was the Potted rillettes, served on toasted bread with a berry compote then topped with fresh raspberries. As a classic combination, the rillettes were warm and flavourful cut with the cool berries to create a great dish with a bitey yet creamy texture with great European like flavours.
Out next we had two salads; the apple salad and the beet salad.
The apple salad was one of the best dishes of the night, such a simple idea that paid dividend to a texturally and palatably stunning dish. The Apple, cucumber, pistachio and creamy burrata combined with the dressing was a winning combination; a salad I would order again in a heartbeat.
The beet salad was also great, the crunchy hazelnuts with the beets that were roasted and the avocado all worked so well; I wasn’t sure if beets and avocado would have worked well but they came together spectacularly and helped calm the beety flavour while adding another dimension of texture.
Next out was an off menus special, pieces of fluke fish that was done similarly to the sand dabs on the menu. It was a really good dish, light, flavourful and so fresh. Even with the brown butter the poached fish shone; being elevated by the addition for fresh grapes and a touch of citrus.
The next two dishes out were the porchetta (their signature dish) and the fried cauliflower.
The porchetta was their signature for good reason, a phenomenal sauce amidst tender roasted pork and a few scattered clams. The only thing missing was a side plate of crusty bread to make sure you didn’t lose any of that magnificent sauce.
The fried cauliflower was great, super light batter with the romesco sauce with the honey combining perfectly to leave you wanting more.
Finally, the last main meal of the night was their farmhouse chicken with fries and sausages. A huge end to a huge meal they gave us a half chicken, 3 pieces of the sausages and a generous helping of fries. The chicken cooked really well, the back of the breast a little dry but the sauce and rub that it was served with helped it retain some moisture while the sausage as a sweet and spicy delight. The chicken served with a great rub – tangy, lemony and well-balanced with a variety of herbs really made the juices that the fries soaked up extra tasty.
Lastly a German two layer cake. The first layer, ice cream, the second a dense cake all topped with a decadent chocolate butterscotch sauce. Simply divine. No other words necessary.
This meal will go down as one of my best for 2015; every dish, the wine and beer fantastic, the atmosphere warm, welcoming and completely encapsulating. A must go when in Chicago.