Hung out here with my boy Chino last night. The place was packed and it was Wednesday night. John Cusack was sitting 20 feet away from us, so that was cool. My buddy taking his picture with his flash on was lame, but we got a good laugh. Beer list was solid, but expensive. GI Gillian bottle for $65, really? Food was amazing.
Very brightly lit, extravagantly designed place with a distinctly high-society feel, and most everything else about this restaurant also reflects this. The unconventional bar is made up of dining-style seating that is low to the ground, while the bartender serves you from what feels like two steps above. Though this to me was very awkward and uncomfortable, the service was excellent. The beer selection is solid, and the prices are of course high. Given the meat-centric foundation of the place, it was fun to be surprised by the incredible creativity and quality of the vegetarian dishes here. That they cannot offer a comfortable bar experience for my preference is my only issue with this phenomenal restaurant.
Probably one of the best restaurants in Chicago, and the fact that they carry an extensive beer list of gems is pretty awesome. If you like rustic farm to table food, definitely hit this place up.
kseecs16 (209) Naperville, Illinois | April 5, 2009| Updated March 31, 2010
Great restaurant. Menu is focused on fresh and regionally sourced food broken in to categories for oysters, fish, meat and vegetables. Service was really good with the waiter helping us guide our food choices and he was knowledgeable about all of the beers I asked about. Some beers are overpriced but others seemed reasonable. The food is excellent and well prepared. Beer list is good and variable but represents a good range of styles from English Bitters to Lambics. Value is entirely subjective but for the quality of food and beer here Iíd say it seems just about right, even if some of the bottled beer prices are beyond what I would pay there are plenty of realy high quality draught and bottled option that wonít break the bank.
Visited on a weekday night at about 9pm, and this place was packed. A unique beer list that includes mostly Belgian inspired beers. Lots of higher ABV stuff is featured, with few session beers. The beers were about on par price-wise with the food menu. The food was excellent and it was probably some of the best pork Iíve ever had. I guess you get what you pay for here (which is a lot).
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.
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 LíEtivaz, 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 chefís selection of a dozen oysters ($30). Iím planning a return visit to try the mussels steamed in Cuvťe Renť. Atmosphere was clean and modern, lots of brass and wood, with shades of brown everywhere, even the staffís coats. The bar was low (with seats), with uniform wooden tap handles towering above. Taps were identified by small dangling engraved brass medallions. 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, iíd put the food score at 4.75. We shared the suckling pig and sweetbreads dishes, which were really worthwhile. 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 :)
The food at Publican is incredible. You must get the pork rinds. It is an upscale restaurant, so donít come here if you want to sit at a bar and drink cheap drafts (which is fine! this just isnít the place). What I appreciate the most, besides a really thoughtful beer list, is the training of the servers. I offhandedly pointed out to the server that Jolly Pumpkin was listed as being from somewhere out east, but itís from Michigan. She became wide eyed and said "oh my god, youíre so right! give me that menu!" and she ran it over to her manager. This place isnít known as a destination for beer, but they are an upscale restaurant that respects the hell out of beer. You can please your significant other if they donít like beer, and have a great time yourself. Also, this is the only upscale restaurant Iíve seen where a guy ordered a boot of beer, stood up, and the ENTIRE restaurant chanted him to completion. Iíve been here a few times, and that isnít a regular thing, but it didnít feel that out of place either.
Popped in here for dinner on a Saturday night. Dinner was extremely good. The food here does not disappoint. Interesting dishes and excellent waitstaff. Lots of bottles with 10 or so draft selections. Iíll be back for sure.
MrChopin (100) Baltimore, Maryland | November 21, 2011| Updated November 22, 2011
Pale walls, golden lighting, light wood, and brass adorned-everything leaves you feeling like youíre on the sun. It doesnít help that the bar is probably the worst constructed of all time, a huge metal shelf between you and bartenders, staring you in the eyes and pretty much requiring that they walk around to serve you. Prices are steep but a unique list in Chicago, pretty deep by style and country. Service is very nice, accommodating. The house lambic apparently runs out fast (I missed it arriving at 9pm on Sunday) and is a different blend every day or few-days. Iíll return for food but am leery of prices and the vibe when crowded.