cratez (256) Toronto, Ontario | September 11, 2011| Updated December 28, 2013
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 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.
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.
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 I’d 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 won’t 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 I’ve ever had. I guess you get what you pay for here (which is a lot).
Odd bar setup. Only was here once for beer, they have their own lambic blend from lindemans. That is about it, smaller selection, ive heard the food is decent. Put it this way unless you are hunting for a rare lambic tick it isn’t a place to come drink.
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 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. 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 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 :)
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. I’ll be back for sure.
The food at Publican is incredible. You must get the pork rinds. It is an upscale restaurant, so don’t come here if you want to sit at a bar and drink cheap drafts (which is fine! this just isn’t 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 it’s from Michigan. She became wide eyed and said "oh my god, you’re so right! give me that menu!" and she ran it over to her manager. This place isn’t 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 don’t like beer, and have a great time yourself. Also, this is the only upscale restaurant I’ve seen where a guy ordered a boot of beer, stood up, and the ENTIRE restaurant chanted him to completion. I’ve been here a few times, and that isn’t a regular thing, but it didn’t feel that out of place either.