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the publican, chicago


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The Publican is a really great spot that has evolved significantly since it first opened. The initial premise of the restaurant was "beer, pork, and oysters." While that still may hold true, this place is capable of putting out some pretty sophisticated food. I had a cured tuna dish there a few weeks ago that was extremely complex and a far cry from the usual pork-based layups we have all over town.

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  • 1 month later...

This is a huge restaurant, with a surface area equal to about 50% of the entire East Village, more or less.

 

Half the diners are Chicago's who's who (persons who'd be affected by the proposed 1256 tax change excluded). 90% under 40.

 

The food is 30% less good than it should be, 30% larger than it needs to be.

 

Service is about twice as good as you'd imagine. The beer list is 500% too long.

 

Sardines are suspicious, small, terrifically overcooked, seemingly more frozen Japanese than fresh Spanish.

 

A dish of provencal fish stew or something managed to stink up the entire country, I would not want to be on the receiving end.

 

Do the cheeses.

 

It's cool.

 

I'm so happy I don't live in Chicago.

 

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  • 4 years later...

The Publican did a very solid, very enjoyable guest dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York last night. They sent their Chef de Cuisine, Cosmo Goss, and their beverage director. There was more going on on each plate than I had expected: this is not simple basic food, but food that gives the appearance of being simple and basic, while actually being quite sophisticated. I find that the contemporary trope of "magic ingredients" -- this plum only blooms once every four years! -- is becoming somewhat annoying (as is, in fact, the trope of seemingly simple food that is actually fairly complicated). But you can't argue with food this consistently delicious.

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