The Publican Review (Updated): The Bliss of Pig Ears and Beer

Paul Kahan may run a beer hall, but his kitchen shows the techniques you’d expect to find in a fancier room.

Photo: Bob Briskey Photography

The interior of The Publican: Tuned precisely to please.

The Publican (837 W. Fulton Market, 312-733-9555). Contemporary American.

(three stars)


Don’t be lulled into porky bliss by the smiley beer experts and the salty-sour-sausagey delights you’re served. Undergirding the food at Paul Kahan’s beer hall are composition and technique to rival most restaurants with whiter tablecloths (or any tablecloths).

The pig ear strips on the Little Gem Salad, for example, crunch just enough but don’t stick to your teeth, and the romaine, fennel, and buttermilk vinaigrette have been tuned precisely to please without peacocking. The farm chicken, sausage, and fries commingle as if this were the celebratory meal of a village festival 500 years ago. Desserts, maybe a touch fancier, evince top talent.

Dishes we liked: potted rillettes ($12), little gem salad ($10), farm chicken ($24), blood sausage ($17), fried broccoli ($11), pistachio pot de crème ($8), puff pastry ($7)

New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in Chicago magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. Elizabeth previously was not rated. The review appears in the June issue, on newsstands now.




1 year ago
Posted by archy

Why is it you...
• seemingly parrot ignorant publicists' or menu verbiage such as "farm egg" or "country chicken";
• slavishly seek out what's newest as if it were synonymous with what's worthwhile;
• glibly claim some "newest restaurants," that have yet to survive a lead chef change or a Chicago winter — the truest tests of restaurants' longevity — "already sound like classics";
• tout "National Seviche Day" (which you also spell as "National Ceviche Day") as if it were something worthwhile, when it's an obvious marketing ploy?

That kind of gushiness is worthy of most reader-supplied reviewing sites, not thoughtful or well-informed commentary. It seems gossipy and superficial, unworthy of your truly knowledgeable food writers.

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