I write mostly about food, and some about travel, and some about people, but pretty much all about things that make me happy. Which is why, when things are sad, I need to remember to get off my ass, splash some water on my face, and slap some pretty pictures up on the blog.
And the pictures we got at the Publican are super-pretty - and not just because we took them and all the pictures we take are pretty. (ahem.)
Way the eff back in June we went to Chicago for a long weekend, for a memorial for my Grandpa Tormey who died in January (it's been a truly sucky year for my family, thanks). In true Boots fashion, we took some time to slip in a bit of eating with my brother and his girlfriend on Sunday before we drove back to Michigan.
In the mood for meat, more specifically pork, pork, pork and shellfish? Do you like beer? The Publican just might be the place for you.
If you're lucky enough to get a booth, you will oddly find yourself latched into it. Perhaps to make you feel more connected with the food, they give you a true stabling experience. I suppose this is in case you go into a cholesterol-fueled mania and have the overwhelming desire to jump up and run around naked connecting primally (awkwardly?) with other diners. Who has the presence of mind to fiddle with a latch at a time like that?
We very quickly ordered caffeine. This a very fine cup of coffee roasted by Intelligentsia. The bar towely napkins were a nice touch.
Actually, pretty much everything there was a nice touch, rendering the term immediately overused. Seriously, look at the creamer and sugar. I take my coffee with a knob of butter, I don't know about you.
Also, because we need to have an array of different-sized glassware in front of us at all times, we ordered drinks. The fact that these Bloody Marys came with itty-bitty beer backs (the first time we'd seen this, though Courtney told us it's fairly common in Montana) played right into our glassware-coveting hands.
Plus, the drinks were good. And the beer was good. And they went together... goodly.
Food starts arriving after the jump, promise.
Even better were the spicy pork rinds that arrived on the heels of our drinks.
Unlike the lesser version we'd had at Roast (also with David and Courtney, come to think of it!) these were served warm and were delicious. I'm thinking about keeping a spicy cheese powder around to sprinkle directly into my mouth when I feel sad.
And then the REAL food started to arrive.
Red wine poached egg with la quercia prosciutto, bearnaise, and sourdough.
How neat is the color on that (perfectly poached, by the way) egg, guys? Reminds me of the red-wine spaghetti Logan made me a few years back. This may have been the most traditionally "brunchy" of the dishes we ordered, though each component of the dish was more special than your run of the mill eggs benedict.
Kelbasa, soft-shell crab, polenta, roasted corn vinaigrette and poached egg.
You'll notice lots of eggs making their way to the table. Hey! Breakfast, amirite?
Maybe the problem here is that I only had a very small bite of the dish's components. Or maybe it's that the meal was like eight weeks ago. But I don't really remember this and I don't remember it being a big hit at the table. The polenta was good. (She doesn't remember it because I ate it all. Surf and turf wonderment. Soft shell crabs should be fried less often. More grilling please.- Logan)
Smoked char, pluots, scallions, capers, fromage blanc and rye toast.
Like the bagel and lox of my Jewish youth, only cured in house and better and way fancier and also more expensive. Cured fish is one of life's great pleasures, and this was done well, with good smoke flavor allowing the fish to show thorough. My only complaint would be a little more fromage blanc, please?
Scrapple, fried egg, and sourdough.
My favorite. I would say it was nothing fancy, but in fact that scrapple loaf was made in house from wonderful pork trimmings and fried just right. Think a pork hash, with meaty bits and fatty bits and chewy bits all held together by cornmeal, then fried on both sides so the outside crisps up. Apparently it's time for us to make a trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country, because this is one of their standout dishes and I could eat it for breakfast many a day. Especially if you top it with MORE EGGS!
Dessertish - fresh ricotta and honey, beer bread, pecans.
I was so glad we ordered this. For one thing, you will notice that our ordering tended towards the savory side of the brunch spectrum, and having a bit of fruit was lovely. For another, I was expecting something really sweet from this and was completely surprised. The fresh-made ricotta was creamy and loosely-textured, and the beer bread's richness was delicious. A great dish made with totally straightforward ingredients.
So yes, we ordered a lot of food. It's hard, because we really only tend to overorder when we travel, but we've been doing so much of that this summer that we have noticed a bit of weight creeping on. To the elliptical machine, friends!
The Publican was every bit as terrific as I'd been led to believe, and I would love to go back there for another meal. But dang are there a lot of great restaurants in Chicago, and dang do we not get there often enough despite the fact that much of my family still lives there. I'm working on rectifying that. (The getting there more often part. I'm not trying to make my family move, even though that sentence sounds like it.)
The neighborhood was quiet on a Sunday morning, but during the week is bustling with meat and produce vendors. Fulton Market is gentrifying, sure, but there are still lots of glimmers of the original food purveyors in between the lofts and bars and restaurants.
David and Courtney dropped us off back at our hotel, where we climbed into the Fit to return to Ann Arbor. On the way, we picked up a snack - the eating of cured meat continues, except instead of home-cured artisinal hand-raised locavore whateverness, we found this:
And no, it didn't taste like maraschinos, but it was definitely sweet and a bit sticky for my jerky liking.
Next up, I try to bring this thing only seven weeks behind with a trip to Austin's La Condesa!
(For those of you who may be wondering just what the hell is actually going on in our lives right NOW, I am sitting in Ann Arbor. We moved across town last week. Our new place is smaller and the walls scuff when we look at them, but it's furnished and it's available, so yay!)
Publican is located at 837 W. Fulton Market in Chicago. 312.733.9555. Check the website, http://thepublicanrestaurant.com/, for details about hours and blahblahblah.