Don’t go to the Publican if you are noise or crowd-adverse. Do go if you want fun, interesting, well-conceived fare. This converted warehouse in Fulton Market is reminiscent of an European beer hall, with communal wood tables, and tall ceilings. It is the brainchild of Paul Kahan, an acclaimed restaurateur who also owns Blackbird and Avec restaurants. Though packed no matter when you go, the service is smooth and the food worth having to raise your voice a bit to talk to your table mate.
But there are a few tables for 2 or 4, and that’s where my friend and I found ourselves on a delightful fall Sunday morning. The brunch menu is adventurous and, for someone like me who prefers ethnic dishes to the traditional egg and toast fare, it was excruciatingly difficult to decide what to order. Maple-glazed pork shoulder, sunny side up egg, kale, polenta & pickled celery? Duck confit hash cabbage, white beans, parmesan potatoes & 2 sunny side up eggs? Waffle with green jam? Even the pumpkin bread with ricotta, figs and honey sounded intriguing.
After much waffling, I went with the pork belly bibimbap with fried egg, jasmine rice, garlic, ginger & kimchi. Momofuku in New York turned me onto pork and kimchi, and this was in that league. Every bite was winsome. The pork pieces were crisp, the egg was gooey and the kimchi was as spicy as the server promised. It was the kind of dish I could easily eat on a regular basis.
My brunch mate ordered an omelette, and even that was exceptional. It was filled with prosciutto, escarole, gouda & aged balsamic. Light and fluffy, I’ve never tasted a better one. Even the whole grain toast was a notch above.
If you find yourself in Chicago, put this on your must-visit list.