Ham chop Photos: Jeff Marini

The Publican may well be the most Chicago restaurant there is—charmingly boisterous, gleefully beer-soaked, and full of oh so much meat. Though it was Paul Kahan’s third restaurant in his now-swaggering One Off Hospitality empire, it still feels like his touchstone, the place where he announced himself to the world with trays of oysters and a hulking, soy-tinged ham chop. The roasted chicken, half a Slagel Family Farm bird dripping its juices over Belgian-style frites, remains the platonic ideal of this elemental dish. The crew has managed to turn a plate of carrots into a masterwork, barbecuing them to concentrate their sweetness, then drizzling them with a ranch-like herb dressing that makes Hidden Valley feel like an unpleasant childhood memory. You’re meant to be reminded of the restaurant’s farm-sourced pedigree at every turn, from the name-checked origins of most dishes on the menu to the barn doors that enclose the booths along the restaurant’s perimeter. But even without the repeated visual cues, Kahan’s abiding faith in his Midwestern heritage is apparent here. It’s our heritage, too. And it tastes fantastic.

Barbecued carrots
Farm chicken