The Publican


41 Reviews
The PublicanThe Publican

Type: Bar, Eatery

837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, Illinois, 60607-1318
United States

(312) 733-9555 | map

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Added by rhoadsrage on 11-26-2008

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Reviews: 41 | Ratings: 100
Photo of cratez
4.78/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Visited with my girlfriend for our 4th anniversary dinner in July 2011.

VIBE: pristine and modern decor with beautiful lighting and a comfortable, medium-sized bar. An L-shaped communal table occupies the middle of the restaurant with two-seater "horse stall" booths off to the left and assorted tables adjacent to the patio. Crowd is upscale yuppy and all of the staff wear uniforms. We enjoyed marveling at the breathtaking ambience of this high-end American eatery while eating our meal.

SERVICE: we received impeccable treatment from a young and knowledgeable waiter. He briefly described every single dish on the menu, including portion sizes, and was quite helpful with his recommendations. At one point he brought a plate to the table that we didn't ask for (he thought we did), but he quickly assured us that we wouldn't be charged for it and he apologized for the mistake. I left a 25% tip because we were so thoroughly impressed with the service.

SELECTION: the draught lineup was chock-full of rarities such as Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier, Porterhouse Wrasslers XXXX Stout, and The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel. Throughout our four course dinner, I had a Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow DIPA, Lagunitas Zephyr, and Mikkeller Draft Bear on tap and a Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster DIPA out of the bottle. These beers were among the best that I sampled on our trip to Chicago, and they nicely complimented the hearty food. Much to my relief, the lady loved the wine that she ordered.

FOOD: unbelievable cuisine for surprisingly good prices. We split the Three Hams plate, Market Salad, a delicious fish entree, and a chocolate meringue pie for dessert. All four dishes tasted phenomenal with immaculate presentation. Truly superb fare.

OVERALL: I'm glad we chose this spot for our special occasion. We had a lovely time here and will definitely return in the future. The Publican is an exemplary model of sophisticated dining matched with fine beer, and I highly recommend it to beer geeks and foodies alike.

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Photo of SurlyDuff
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

The Publican is one of those world-class establishments that does everything just right. Whether it be the taplist, the food, the atmosphere or the service, they seem to have their shit together.
The beer is supurb, bit I almost want to praise the food to a higher honor. This place is a foodie's delight, especially the carnivorous types. They specialize in small farm and artisanal food, and don't shy from the organs, brains, and other amazing tastes.
Showed up without a reservation on a busy Thusday night, but we found a standing table for the wait. Enjoyed some beers and french fries smothered in fried egg. Got our booth (we called it our pen, as it had a door) and were greeted by a knoweledgable server who, on our bidding, delivered the most delicious vittles, plate after plate. Amazing food and beer, great service, and a very cool vibe with their long common tables and cool booths. Prices were high, but not outrageous, luckily my work paid for the food part ;)
Check this place out if you're anywhere within 2 hours of it, okay?

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Photo of stercomm
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Took my son and daughter-in-law to dinner here, we had a most enjoyable time. The atmosphere was very nice, with the long tables you end up sitting next to folks and get to have some very nice conversations with those around you.

The beer selection is very nice, had a couple of Three Floyds offerings which is always good. The wait staff was very knowledgeable on the beers as well as being very friendly. While our waiter was very busy he did take the time to chat a bit

The food was outstanding albeit a bit pricey. The pork belly was out of this world. This is a family style menu, you order a bunch of stuff and everyone shares and the selections come out when they are ready.

Will definitely go there again.

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Photo of malcontent
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Ah, Publican. What's left to say? Of Paul Kahn's places this is neck-and-neck with Avec (hey, that rhymed!) for me.

The room is a long, family style (read: shared tables) set up which has become Kahn's go-to lately. There are a smattering of tall, standing-only tables in the middle of the room for the a)hardy diners or b)folks who only intend to have a beer or two and munch on some snacks. The kitchen is exposed, which seems to be de rigeur these days but a move that is right in line with the open layout of the dining room. Side note: the restrooms are bizarrely fun. Yes, that's an odd thing to write in a review but go there and see if you don't agree.

The service is excellent with an impressive command of multitasking considering the size of the place. The knowledge of the menu is outstanding and only once did I have a server with just an OK grasp of the beer menu.

The beer menu, while constantly rotating, still places a heavy emphasis on the local. There have been some who quibbled with the lack of cohesion for the beer selection but I think this has far more to do with making sure each of the myriad food items has at least one ideal pairing.

Yes, it's a beer site but let's not kid ourselves, Publican is a food establishment and this is where it should receive most of its attention. I've had nearly everything on the menu over my visits (although this is an evolving seasonal menu) and standouts include the sweetbreads with pecans and pink lady apples, the spicy pork rinds, the selection of pickles (always different), crudee of fluke and a shockingly simple heirloom tomato salad.

If you're a beerhound with only semi-adventurous food tastes this might not be the place for you. If you worship at the altar of food porn this is a must.

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Photo of RayYanks23
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The first place we went to, based mostly on BA reviews. It was a short walk off of the metro stop. Definitely a fancier place, the food was not your basic bar grub. The beer list was excellent! They were promoting their Zephyr collaboration with Lagunitas and Big Star.

The wait staff was excellent and very helpful in going over my bar list for the rest of out trip. The one draw back of this particular bar is that you will definitely need to cab it out of there because it is not that close to anything else, but I would recommend stopping in.

Don't expect to do hot wings and burgers...we ended up with a cheese and mixed ham plate, but the beer prevails and I am glad I stopped in. We went to the Map Room next and were very happy there for the rest of the night...

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Photo of GoldenVIKE
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This is the best "gastro pub" in Chicago if not the world. They have an incredible selection of meats and organ meats, and all are prepared, cooked, and served masterfully. The sweet breads is my personal favorite. Unreal.

Then there's the beer list. They've got hundreds of craft brews available including many on tap. You can even order hard to find brews like Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Stout and Founder's Breakfast Stout--of course you have to pay a heavy price for beers like that, like $45 for a bottle for example.

My only beef with this place is that I don't really care for the atmosphere. It sort of feels like a cafeteria due to the high ceilings, open rectangular room, and long bench tables. I know that's what they're going for, but it makes the place a bit loud and crowded feeling. This place would be even better if it felt more like a tavern.

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Photo of immobilisme
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

The Publican is possibly my favorite restaurant in Chicago.

I know I am supposed to review the beer selection, but whatever. The food is amazing.

Ok. They always have a nice tap list and often have crazy stuff that you can't get anywhere else.

Their beer dinners are the highlight of my life. I have been to beer dinners at Hopleaf and a few other places, but none of them compare to The Publican. The Bruery beer dinner in April was ridiculously good and so was the Ommegang beer dinner last year.

The bottle list is expensive. Ok. It is very expensive. They do have rarities that you won't see anywhere else in Chicago though.

Service is great. They hire people who care about beer and care about their customers.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
5/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

The Publican seems to be housed in a warehouse district near downtown Chicago, but for all the authentically rustic character of the neighborhood, the place is a polished gem. The decor is expansive and distinct; a group seating arrangement of long banquet tables is given a modicum of indivual privacy by virtue of the very high backs on the chairs; this particular design element is stunning. Cocktail tables are placed in the center of the space and serve as the bar. Individual tables are cozily arranged in a novel box-seating array. Even the bathrooms are gorgeous. Aside from the design and decor, the beer list is phenomenal, if pricy. The house-made Lambic, "Lambic Doux," is ridiculously delicious; as was the bottle of 100% BA Coton me and Alex drank. The servers are quite knowledgeable. And the oysters were among the best I have ever had. I ate nearly two dozen, a la carte. I will daydream about the Publican until I can return.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.88/5  rDev -13.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I finally made it out to Publican, a Friday night for drinks and snacks. A typical West Loop joint, meaning modern looking, new and clean, wide open space with adjoined tables. Cool place for having dinner probably not exactly what I want out of a place for drinks. The booths are awesome though as they basically look you in with wooden doors like your in a horse stall...The beer list is organized pretty good, draught then countries and styles. About 10 draft and probably 50 or so bottles. The selection is pretty decent, a lot of base staples, some stuff I've not seen before. Fluxus on tap is nice. The service was decent, talked to 2 people new basic beer stuff and things about the beers available, suggestions were not spot on...The snacks we had were good, nothing special though. The fries were very disappointing, guess I was expecting something Belgianesque. It was not crowded at all for Friday, making me wonder why its impossible to get reservations. Way too expensive for the beer and good.

A cool place to go, would go here for dinner for a special occasion because they have decent beer but I wouldn't come back to just drink. Paramount room is close enough, if downtown head there for cheaper beer with similar quality.

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Photo of Sanford
4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

If I lived in Chicago I would be a regular. Everything was a bit pricey, but...really well done! Interesting wine/beer list, fantastic menu, with food that didn't disapoint. Our server knew the menu and beers, and was friendly.
I think a couple of visits would help to know the menu, leading to economical choices. What I mean is, some dishes, while delicious, were tiny, while others were generous. I would reccomend avoiding dishes with expensive ingredients, and trying the more humble offerings. Incredible flavor was coaxed from pork country ribs, and chicken, for instance, and the fries that were served under the chicken were the best I have ever, ever, had...fried in lard.

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Photo of kwjd
4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I was visiting Chicago and I figured I had to try this place after looking at the menu and the beer list. If you are into interesting foods, you have to give this a try. All food is shared among the tables. My table had things such as sweet breads and lamb brains. There are things that are closer to "normal" too on their menu, but other than the spicy greens, I didn't try any of it.

The beer list was also great. They had a good selection of beer from the mid-west as well as plenty from around the US and international.

I would recommend making reservations well in advance. I called on Friday as soon as it opened for reservations for that night and they were booked solid. They said they were booked solid on Saturday too. I was told that since my group was only 3 people, we could probably get fit in somewhere if we were willing to hang out at the bar first. With the beer list there, that wasn't an issue, though we did get our table before we finished our first round.

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Photo of WOTO97
3.88/5  rDev -13.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

First off, the quality of the food is very high. The focus is pork, oysters, and beer. The first two categories are well-represented. The food is designed to be shared at the table; no traditional entrees. The food, generally, is considerably more upscale traditional pub fare.

The beer list is okay. Without a doubt it contains some very great beers. Nonetheless, The Publican has made a point of advertising how much time they spend on integrating the food and beer menus, but, based on this, the beer menus definitely lacks any cohesiveness. Some of the rare beers that made an appearance on the list seemed to be there to be there and not for the purpose of complementing the food.

Still, if you are looking to spend a nice night out with friends and drop some money, you could do much worse than The Publican.

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Photo of Sallerj
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This place focuses on beer, oysters, and pork. I've been there twice now. Everything I've had to eat and drink has been great. One time my waiter was blatantly drunk. The service might be excessively casual while trying to be hip, but the servers have been knowledgeable and attentive. The beer selection, wine list, and menu are all fantastic. This is my favorite new place in Chicago. It isn't cheap, but I've gone expecting to spend a lot, had as much as I want to eat and drink, and had the check end up being less than I expected.

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Photo of robbyc1
4.5/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Been there a couple of times now, it does rival Hopleaf as a beer and food place to go.

It is a big open location, described nicely by others below, I just want add that there is a bar where you can eat and drink, also standing tables, then long Europe type tables, think of Octoberfest in Germany, then there are finally closed door tables where you can have a bit of privacy. It is not so loud so you can have decent conversation, I don't even remember music playing which is fine. Overall a rowdy and fun place to eat and drink, and people watch.

Upscale food, including fish (excellent oysters), meats, interesting vegetable choices. Everything was top quality, including the beer. My mate had a Hanssens strawberry from 2001? 3 different servers came over to comment on how great this beer was, and all food and drink was greatly enjoyed.

Sevice is attentive, a bit sloppy at times but they really focus alot of people on your needs. The best one there is Michael, the beer sommelier, who has deep knowledge of the beer list, and I believe put it together. He also orders the drafts. Unfortunately he is only one man, and the waiters try to know the list as well but sometimes come up short. Do ask for Michael if you go, or ask something very esoteric (what kind of hops are in this IPA, I really like Challenger?) and they will call him over.

Selection of food is great, of beer very good, many unusualities from the 80+ bottles. They now have 12 taps plus one cask of great selections as well. Assume 1/2 craft, 1/2 Belgian, with a few Germans, British, with a Jolly Pumpkin, full slate of The Bruery, and Matilda to boot. I put Hopleaf's 30+ taps plus 100 plus bottles above this but no other restaurants (certainly many bars, e.g. Maproom, Local Option).

Dishes come in variable sizes, many to share. The value is decent given the quality, but expect food to run $40 - $50 per head plus beer here which is rather pricey. For true Chicago gastropubs you must consider this and Hopleaf a tie at the top.

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Photo of botham
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

The Publican is a solid restaraunt that happens to have a decent selection of beer. the place looks like an old Norse dining hall that was transplanted to the West Loop, with new finishes and updated glassware and utensils. that being said, the food is exceptional and the beers are very inteligently chosen.

atmosphere is upscale restaraunt meets the aformentioned old Norse hall. bold and strong wooden furniture throughout, all medium toned with just-as-bold heavy wooden tap handles at the bar. booths along the far wall close off into their own spaces, which gives a cozy and private dining experience while still being a part of the overall space.

service and quality are near-perfect. artisan dining with great beers. focus of the menu is on pork and other meat dishes, with a good beer list of around ten taps and around 75 or so bottles. everything is a bit pricey, but the quality makes up for the price difference.

food is quite good. pork is definitely the focus, but all the food seen and tried was great.

overall, the Publican is an excellent restaraunt in the West Loop; the only complaint is the location, without too much around except for the street markets that close their doors mid-afternoon. that being said, once inside the patrons are transported to old Scandinavia. an excellent stop for those in the downtown area of Chicago. cheers!

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Photo of Florida9
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

The Publican reminds me of a modernist's interpretation of the great hall in Beowulf. The mood is lively and festive, with a good mix of foodies, beer lovers, and the trendy. The space itself is nothing more than a rectangle of a room, with large communal tables in the middle, boxed-in booths to the side and a gathering on two-tops near the front. Tall, stoic, boxy timber chairs sit with their wooden table counterparts. Earthen tones and wood dominate the structure, while globe lights hang from the ceiling in compact, orderly rows.

More impressive than the room itself is the beer list. There are 8 or so taps, about 10 times as bottles, and a cask ale, all representing a fine mix of the local (2Brothers, FFF, Surly) and the not so local (Germans, Belgians, French farmhouse). These are all quality beers and while there may be some offerings which are little more commercial than others, I spotted some true rarities and the menu even listed a bottle of New Glarus. For the most part prices are reasonable (between $5-$7 for a draft), but some of the prices were exorbitant (JP Bam for $23, and FFF Behemoth for $36!).

The food is retrospective, with a focus on old-school charcuterie, shellfish, and pickles. Simply put, the food is excellent, though I did at times feel it was somewhat redundant and lacking in creativity. For example, we ordered both the charcuterie plate and the potee, which turned out to be very similar dishes, even down to the addition of gherkins in both. However, since the food itself was so damn good, its hard to complain when you're getting more of a goof thing.

My only qualm with Publican would be the service, and even that was very good. However, my issue stemmed from my server being spread among too many tables, resulting in me having to continually ask for items, most notably beer, which I had to request on three separate occasions during my meal. Maybe if the restaurant itself added another server or two during busy nights, they could head off this inconvenience. Otherwise I will say my server exhibited quite the beer knowledge, was overtly friendly, and, when he was available to do so, attended to our needs without complaint.

Prices are not cheap, but in consideration for the quality of both the beer and food, I still felt they were very reasonable.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

The Publcian.

To say I had been anxiously awaiting my Friday night reservations (booked 4 weeks in advance) would be one of the understatements of the year - i could barely contain my intrigue.

when they say it's located in the meatpacking district, thats not just some cute city rhetoric about an old reformed district. its literally in a meatpacking district. we walked from the loop, past the chocolate factory, under the interstate and through some crummy streets. Cabs were waiting when we left fortunately.

we rolled in at around 7:30 and left no earlier than 11. This place was absolutely buzzing - no wonder this was the new restaurant of the year in Chicago and is generating tons of national attention.

the interior is warehouse-style with thoughtful lighting, family style tables, boxcar style tables, and lots of bar space that is rotated as possible.

the beer list is one long page with about 8 taps and a bunch of bottles. there is nothing even close to pedestrian on this list - bottles of cantillon, obscure french and belgians, old rasputin xxi, plenty of lambics/geuze. Markups seemed reasonable given the quality and attention given to beer. impossible to not drink well here. it should be noted that this is not a bar. dont plan on coming here on a busy night and not eating - you wont even get in the door.

all that said, this place is about the of the most incredible restaurants i have ever eaten at - i didnt want to leave. This place pays homage to the pig like no other - oh and shellfish too. Started with chef's samplers of oysters and aged hams, moved into some pork skins, some mussels, and 2 FANTASTIC entrees (pork shoulder with clams and chorizo, sweetbreads with a lobster cream sauce).

service was slow but people here are forced to know their menu. our $150 2-person bill was reduced to approximately $100 after receiving some of the mentioned items for free. i couldnt have cared less - i wanted a 3 hour dinner and thats what i got.

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Photo of Gratefullawyer
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

If you live in chicago you need to visit. If you were like me and a traveler go out of your way and stop in. However before you go plan and make reservations the place was packed.
I went on a Saturday night and fortunately made reservations that day for 6 showed up at 5 to sit and the bar. boy was i surprised to see this place. I expected upscale and it met my expectations
we sat by the bar and had mussels to do with our two drafts. and were later showed to our tables. We spent almost 4.5 hours in there eating and drinking,

Food - i would say belguim/french style. Seafood I had both the mussels and the seafood stew . both were outstanding. My friend had the pork belly . everyone around was enjoying the food.
Atmosphere one long u shape table were you sit and meet your neighbors talk beer, and food. it was great fun. I could see spending many a night eating and drinking in here
Beer selection: the selections leans to belguims and belguims made elsewhere. the staff was extrenely knowledgable and made excellant recommendation. Ended the night with a Surly 3 (ok 2 surly 3s)
a great place to expiernce beer and food

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

8-5-10 Update
I have been back several times. It has been consistently great (food & beer) and everyone I have taken here loves it. You have got to check it out!

Original Review 4-30-10

All I can say is WOW. This is a great place and I really hope they have a long and successful run.

Located the in the Fulton Meat packing district, there is plenty of on-street parking or you would take the Halsted Street bus and make the short walk over. Note that when we left there were plenty of taxis.

As you enter the vestibule, the hostess station & restaurant are to your left. The interesting bathrooms are to your right. Note that they bathrooms do not have sinks, but there is a very unique community sink located right outside the bathroom doors.

One of the neat aspects of the Publican is the large communal tables. While there are a few small tables, and few tables where your stand, the odds are that you will be sitting next to someone you don't know. This is great though as the atmosphere is so friendly it really lends itself to conversation. Speaking of conversation, the only downside of this place is the steady roar of noise. I think they have bit to much wood and should get some damping material on the floor or walls. I loved the oil paintings of the pigs!

The beer list is expansive and well thought out. Big emphasis on beers from Belgium and Belgian inspired US & Canadian beers. Note that they have some exclusive options from Goose Island. Prices range from a reasonable $5 for a Jolly Pumpkin & Goose Island to all the way up to $70 for some rare large bottles. The wine list is impressive, but I would say 80% of the patrons are drinking beer.

The food is fantastic. They emphasis is on pork but they also offer good fish & seafood choices. I've been told that they get a whole organic pig every Friday and that this is what they use the entire week.

We started with the spicy homemade pork rinds and then had the three-ham sampler platter. I liked they way they brought out the entrees one at time so we could share. We had the smelt, a nice salmon, fantastic chicken and some of the best pork ribs I've ever had. Desert was waffles.

The tab for four with tip was $260. $65 per person is cheap considering the quality of the food, the excellent service and really great beers.

Do yourself a favor and make tracks to this wonderful restaurant/bar.

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Photo of emerge077
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Made a point to visit over the weekend, at 3:30 when they opened. The beer director is BA RadioFlyer, and he was there to talk beer with us the whole time. He was an encyclopedia of beer knowledge (also an avid homebrewer), and shared samples with us, which was fun. The main draw for me were the exclusive Goose Island "experimental" specialties, such as Madame Rose, Matilda Framboise, and various Saisons using single Brett strains. Service was very prompt, helpful, and sincere. They even offered complimentary still or sparking bottled water. Be advised though, it's is a high-end establishment...reservations recommended for dinner.

The beer list is very well designed (available online), and organized into the following sections: Draught, Trappist, Belgian-micro, Abbey Style, Methode Champenoise, Lambics (all traditional), Flemish Red/Bruin, Saison, Biere de Garde, German, Danmark, Norwegian, Finnish, British Isles, Swedish, and American. Drafts rotate fairly often, currently the highlights were Matilda Framboise, Hopsinjoor, Flossmoor Pullman Brown, and Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek. Drafts ranged from $5-9, and bottles were $5 for Avery IPA, up to $50 for Deus and Lou Pepe Framboise. The list was eclectic and varied, but seemed to focus most on Belgian Saison/Lambic/Biere de garde. I was happy to see Jolly Pumpkin offered here, and look forward to the beer dinner planned for May (edit: never happened).

We ordered off the "snacks" menu (available from 3:30-5:30), and not from the full dinner menu. Spicy pork rinds, frites with aioli, a trio of aged hams, and L'Etivaz, a Swiss Gruyere style cheese. The frites were a standout paired with the beer, cooked in beef tallow, and my favorite in the city. The menu was a perfect compliment to the beer, sort of high-end "deli/junk food" if you will. My favorite ham was la quercia rossa, the sample trio was $18...if you get a reservation for dinner here, expect it to be in the "$$$-$" range. Everything on the small menu was under $20, with the exception of the chef's selection of a dozen oysters ($30). I'm planning a return visit to try the mussels steamed in Cuvée René.

Atmosphere was clean and modern, lots of brass and wood, with shades of brown everywhere, even the staff's coats. The bar was low (with seats), with uniform wooden tap handles towering above. Taps were identified by small dangling engraved brass medallions. An army of globe lanterns above cast a soft light as the last bit of daylight ebbed from the front windows. There were giant illustrated canvas prints of equally giant hogs on the walls. It was an ultramodern shrine to the other white meat...

Edit: After returning for dinner last night, i'd put the food score at 5. We shared the suckling pig and sweetbreads dishes, which were worthwhile and then some. The Kumamoto oyster was a bit gritty with sand or shell pieces, otherwise everything was flawless. Right up to the pigpen corral tables which were surprisingly un-claustrophobic. Oh yeah... and Older Viscosity on tap :)

2011: After a half dozen visits, Publican always impresses. Whether it's just drinks at the bar, brunch, or dinner. They have earned their spot as an innovator in the local dining/beer scene.

A side note, the private "stockyard stall" tables are inspired by the Fulton Market location, historically one of Chicago's last meatpacking districts for the better part of a century. Also inspired by the "snugs" of european taverns. More info:

2012: Drafts still start out at $5 (Zombie Dust), pretty affordable, yes some bottles are expensive, that's the standard at any nice restaurant in town unfortunately... They also do a house lambic doux blend that is occasionally available.

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Photo of Yetiman420
4.09/5  rDev -9.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

I should have known what I was getting in to when I saw The Publican in Food & Wine magazine, a Zagat's feature, and the WHERE magazine in my Chicago hotel room. I should have known better than to show up at 9:30 on a Saturday night. Would have, should have, could have.

We drove five hours from Cincinnati to Chicago for a weekend of good beer and food. The Publican made its way to the top of our list. Not much information in BA or online and an untimely, day-after response from RadioFlyer who was posting The Publican's beer list the prior week to regional forums...

"Not sure if you were here this weekend, or if its next, but the best thing to do is go as early as you can on a weekend. We just started taking reservations so this may be of help, but to be honest we get so crowed on the weekends. If it were me I would go as early as 4:30 get a beer and snack, then at 5:30 the full menu is available. Monday through Wednesday is normally safe and Sundays are always fun, but on sundays we have a prefixed family style menu. Unfortunately our bar seating is small and maybe not ideal, if you'd like more private dining ask for a booth or a separate table for two. if your fine with communal dining ask to be seated at one of the long tables. Hope this help cheers and happy holidays"

The reservation policy hit us hard. Website says no reservations except Sunday. We got shut out. Should have went with my gut and arrived early - like when they opened. The staff handled our contained displeasure well. Someone even got the chef to write out the Sunday prix fixe menu.

I'm dismissing all of this as growing pains. I'm extremely excited to see this type of beer-forward movement. It's on our list for dinner during our next biannual visit to the city.

Located in what I believe to be the (old) stockyard area of Chicago. Very much like the meatpacking district in Manhattan. Not much from the outside except cabs and cars coming and going. A block or two to the east is major, upscale residential development. Inside is a wide open, light-colored space crowded and very noisy. The Allman Brother's and Gratfeul Dead as house music? Listen close. Nice.

We stopped the Friday night before at Flossmoor which tapped Surly Darkness on Thursday. They were out when we arrived around 6. The Publican tapped the same thing earlier in the week and it was still flowing. I mention this because the clientele, and the restaurant for that matter, is more food than beer. Smartly-dressed, successful professionals dominated the crowd on this Saturday evening. The people and place are atypical of the hundreds of BA-reviewed establishments I've visited. In my book, this is a good thing. Just know what you're getting in to. Also keep in mind the bar area is comprised of standing stations with no seats.

On with the beer. The beer menu is categorized by draught, trappist Belgium, micro Belgium, abbey style Belgium, methode champenoise, lambics, Flemish red/bruin, saisons Wallonia, biere de garde france, german, Denmark, finnish, Norwegian, british isles, Swedish, and American. Ninety beers in all.

They provide complete, formal descriptions of the beer which I got a kick out of.

Brasserie de Rochefort [Abbey de Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy], Rochefort, Belgium
Trappist Rochefort 8 [11.2 oz] - 9.20% - $13

Might someone be confusing their Rochefort 8's? How did the majority handle this? It seemed as if most were drinking the Trappist varieties. I would have preferred less focus on formal descriptions and more guidance with characteristics and pairings. I also like books with color pictures.

Monchshof Schwarzbier - $5
Alpha King Pale Ale - $5
Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter - $6
De Koninck, Brouwerij De Koninck NV - $6
Matilda - $7
Gulden Draak - $7
Surly Darkness - $7
Scaldis De Noel - $7
Wiesen Edel-Weisse - $8
Saison Claussenii - $9
Cidre Bouche Brut Dupont - $10
Kriekbier - $10

I had the Surly which was about 10 oz.

American bottle varieties from Avery, Great Lakes, Founders, North Coast, Three Floyds, Two Brothers, Ommegang, Goose Island, New Holland, Great Divide, and two of my favorites - Jolly Pumpkin and Allagash.

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The Publican in Chicago, IL
4.5 out of 5 based on 100 ratings.
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