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The Publican

Not Rated.
The PublicanThe Publican
BA SCORE
100
world-class

86 Ratings
Ratings: 86
Reviews: 40
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: n/a
Taps: 12
Bottles: 46
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, Illinois, 60607-1318
United States
phone: (312) 733-9555

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @thepublican2008

Notes:
Place added by: rhoadsrage on 11-26-2008

No notes at this time.
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Ratings: 86 | Reviews: 40
Photo of little_star
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of DNICE555
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of larbush
4.25/5  rDev -6.6%

Photo of ELECTRONICAnonymous
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of JohneHoodlum
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of vinny21bal
3.75/5  rDev -17.6%

Photo of MarcatGSB
4.14/5  rDev -9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 5

This is an extremely conflicting review for me to write...This is Beer Advocate, right? Okay I'll do my best.

They open at 3:30...they serve a limited afternoon menu until 5:30. We had a reservation at 5:30, and showed up around 4:30, and were promptly sat at the table where our reservation had been situated for later that evening.
The tap list consists of 10 to 12 options, ranging from easy drinking German Pils to fine American Craft offerings, and even a house blended Lambic (which stated it was from Lindeman's). We started with a Rueze from the Bruery. A beer I had been wanting to try, but since we don't get their stuff in Michigan, I was very excited to see it.
The afternoon menu consists of 8 to 12 Oyster options, quite a few different cheeses, some cured meats, a few salads, and a half chicken. We started with the Chef's Choice Oysters that were absolutely fantastic. They gave us two of each, totaling 12 Oysters (the cost was $30, so just under $3 an Oyster, fair price IMO). Since they had about 12 Oysters on the menu, we decided to go back for round 2, and try the other 6 that we did not get on the first platter. And the chef was more than happy to do that for us. They were all wonderful.

By this time, it was 5:30, and the full menu was available. We stuck with the draft list (which I'll get to later), and got a glass of the house Lambic. Which turned out to be absolutely delicious. We both enjoyed it more than the Rueze.
The dinner menu is vast. Lots of really good looking options. We did some family style dining, and went with a couple different things. We had some baked sweet potatoes that were absolutely delicious, as well as some kale gnocchi. The kale wasn't as present as I would have liked it to be, but the gnocchi was to die for. Absolutely amazing. For entrees we went with dry aged duck breast and beef heart tartar. Both of the entrees matched the apps, very well presented, and tasty. An amazing dining experience food wise. With that said...

We were sat on the first table when you walk in the door. The only occupied table at 4:30. Probably the worst table in the house, honestly. I called for a reservation 3 months ago, because I know it's extremely difficult to get into the Publican. Every time someone opened up the door, we got a blast of cold air, and it was rather uncomfortable for us.
The server wasn't the friendliest girl in the world. She was pleasant enough, but she had this snottiness to her that just rubbed me the wrong way. I'm a religious 20% tipper, and unfortunately she walked away with just over 15%...
The beer list is...hmm. The tap list is affordable, yes. But as far as the Publican being a beer destination, I'd have to say absolutely not. Yes, they had Bourbon County Coffee on the list, but for $18 a bottle? You gotta be kidding me. Yeah they had Sobre Humano from JP (and there isn't alot of that left around), but for $45 a bottle? No way. The prices were just way too high.
Taking everything into account, this is a really nice stop. The food is fantastic, and priced very well for what you get. The service could have been better. The beer list is impressive but overpriced.
It's nice to have such a high quality dinner with great beer options available. I don't understand the idea that if you are going to enjoy such a treat, you need to be gouged for it. I'm guessing people pay for the bottles, or else they wouldn't carry the selection they do, or they wouldn't charge as much. The restaurant seems to be very busy, so they don't need my help. I just don't agree with their practice.

Photo of BDGarde312
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of superdoopersauce
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of teledeluxe
4.25/5  rDev -6.6%

Photo of Daniellobo
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of brandoman63
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of ms333
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of cnbrown313
4.56/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 5

Ahhh... The Publican. Just writing that brings a smile to my face. Located right in the middle of what used to be the historic meat packing plants in Chicago.

Paul Kahan might be one of the most famous chefs in Chicago today and in my opinion, The Publican is his finest creation. If you like beer, pork, and seafood... look no further.

First of all, every server at The Publican is a certified Cicerone. So, not only do they know their beer, they can pair it perfectly with their food and even the nerdiest beer nerd will likely feel at home with the selection. On my last visit there, I drank Cantillon Kriek on tap until I simply could drink no more... it was fantastic. Even the bourbon selection was amazing. Would you like a 23 year Pappy neat? No problem here. The Publican also has unique offerings, such as their own house blended lambics.

As amazing as the beer is at The Publican, the food is the real star, but since this is a beer review site I will keep it short. Just do a Google image search for "Publican bacon."

PS - Around the corner at Publican Quality Meats, you can grab some amazing cuts of meat take take home too. If you like head cheese, you need to try some while you are here. In my opinion, it's the best there is.

Photo of Bowers-Brew
4.73/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Very neat place to drink and eat.
Great beer and food pairings.
Knowledgeable staff makes good recommendations.
Great place to spend a few hours drinking an eating.
I would definitely visit again and recommend it to fellow beer and food lovers.
Prost!

Photo of sholland119
3.96/5  rDev -13%
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.

HV

Photo of YogiBeer
5/5  rDev +9.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

The motherland. Absolutely ridiculous food, absolutely everything made from scratch. They have a butcher shop across the street that dry ages beef, makes every type of charcuterie by hand, and bakes their own absolutely-top-quality bread. Organic, Fresh, Local everything. Great oysters, Great seafood, I could go on and on and on. If they ever have the duck hearts when you're there, GET THEM.

Beerwise, holy sh*t. They have everything from tiny belgian breweries to cantillon (basically all the time) to the best american craft. Every server has at least level 1 cicerone certification, and you can order a bunch of food then say "please pair these for me." Never ever been disappointed when I went here, ever. Worth at least a 2 hour drive.

Paul Kahan is very very very good at taking my money.

Photo of RMelyon
4.85/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This is my favorite eatery in my favorite city. Not sure there's much more I can say.

If you get the chance, go here and order anything. It will be awesome.

Also, stop by the butcher shop across the street. Take home some bacon and sausage. You won't regret it.

Photo of Fluffheady
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

This place is a really awesome restaurant that also has a great beer list. It's definitely a destination restaurant, and with food and drinks you're looking about $80 a head. I f***ing LOVE their house made pork rinds. They also have a house blended lambic. Crazy. You could definitely take your lady here and not even mention the beer to her (if she's not into beer and is a bit sick of you only taking her to beer places), but you could sample some great stuff. She might notice, though, if someone orders a boot and the entire communal table chants him on to finish (which happened while we were there). This might be a schmancy restaurant, but they really care about their beer. I jokingly pointed a mistake out to the server where the menu said that Jolly Pumpkin was from Vermont, not Michigan. Instead of waving me off, she got wide eyed ,exclaimed "you're right!", and ran off to tell the beer director. This place is seriously awesome.

Photo of shadytony
4.2/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 5

The atmosphere of this place is awesome. Very "beer hall" and the chefs employ a "head to tail" philosophy (cooking and serving every part of the animals on the menu - usually pig). You will be hard pressed to find a better selection of food at any craft beer establishment in Chicago (especially if you are a pork lover). The beer selection is typically solid but service can be spotty, especially if you are standing at one of the community tables by the bar. I gave selection a solid "4". I would recommend having a reservation and getting a table if you plan on being there for a while. The selection is usually awesome (e.g. I visited for a tapping of K.B.S. which lasted until long after I left). This place may not be for everyone as it leans very much toward a 'high end' dinner spot (this is not a casual bar) and can be very crowded on evenings and weekends.

Photo of Higy
4.63/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I have been here twice once for brunch and then for New Year's Eve. Both times were excellent. For New Year's we took some friends and they were very impressed. They have communal seating and booths with doors (like feed stalls for hogs, very unique.) All together a very nice setting.

The servers are very personable and knowledgable on their beer selections. They are also very good a recommending pairing for their delicious foods and beer.

A little pricey but you get what you pay for and more!

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.68/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Stopped out here for dinner after attending FOBAB on saturday the 12th. It was within walking distance from the Plumbers Union Hall building tha hosts FOBAB. A group of 4.

Atmosphere: Clean and inviting establishment. Its has a rustic dinning area with a modern looking kitchen. Pretty fancy bathrooms too. Booths with "barn doors" that close guests in for a private meal. Also several large wooden community dinning tables. Unbelevable glassware for all types of alcohol.

Quality: Looks to be a high end dinning experience.

Service: Top Notch! The hostess was polite and seated us immediatly. Dealt with several servers during the meal, they all did well. Our main server was polite, very knowledgeable of the menu(both food and alcohol) and down to earth; this made the group feel as welcome as an honorary guest.

Selection: Really good menu. Really sampled alot of food for dinner. The menu offers multiple items from different regions of the USA and outside of the USA where the food is consider the premium. 4 types of premium hams, 6 different oysters, a $120 seafood platter that requires a 48 hour RSVP! Great beer menu and other alcoholic beverages. All waitstaff have been trained to answer and questions you may have about the booze. The beer pours are correctly done and impressive.

Food: We ate the pork rinds as appetizer, potted rillettes, charcuterie plate, bouchot mussels, farm chicken, and bread pudding for dessert. All the food was fresh, and amazingly delicous. The Charcuterie plate was not something I would normally eat and quite frankly out of my comfort level; it was awesome! We honestly ate way more food than we needed and all plates went back to the kitchen empty. We left the restaurant uncomfortably full, but very happy we were.

Value: It ended up caost each person approximately 35 buck a person wth tip included. Decent cost for a meal in downtown Chicago, especially when you factor in how good the food was and the excellant service! You must try this place out!

Photo of DCon
4.59/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

Photo of JoeySchlitz
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Stopped by here while in Chicago on a business trip. Had no reservations but was by myself and was able to get a spot at the communal table - it was a pretty busy Thursday evening.

Cool place with a modern beer garden decor twist - lots of wood. The beer menu is good with a nice selection of current and quality beers from across the US - mostly focused on the midwest. There was a Brooklyn event earlier in the week so there were a few of their one-off beers on tap. The food is also quite good and I image that most are drawn to this place for that. I was not but found the dishes to be good but not as good as I expected given the pedigree of the chef/owners.

Overall a cool spot for dinner and good beverages. Would definitely come back next time I'm in Chicago.

Photo of beerwolf77
3.35/5  rDev -26.4%
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.

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The Publican in Chicago, IL
100 out of 100 based on 86 ratings.