Neighborhood: Fulton Market, Near West Side, West Loop according to Yelp
Publican has been on our list for a while now, but being downtown and slightly more fancy than our normal brunch spots we had been putting it off (read: normally we are too hungover on the weekends to bother with looking nice & figuring out how to get downtown.) Since McD was back from Europe and we had a low key night at The Map Room the night before, we decided it was time.
When we tried to make reservations the night before, the only available times were 9:00 AM and 1:45 PM so we decided to brave the long wait and just show up at our normal brunch time, around noon. [And yes, sometimes we make brunch reservations while in a bar the night before.] When we got there we were told it would be a 30 min wait at the most and we could get drinks/apps at the bar. We had been expecting a wait closer to an hour, so this was encouraging. The bar area wasn’t even crowded, they have ample space and enough bar tables for lots of people to wait comfortably. We were quite pleased to sip our breakfast cocktails and people watch.
The people watching was A+. There were so many 20-something girls in dresses brunching with their gal pals or significant others. Bitches love brunch. There were also many a hot bearded man spotted, both of the wait staff and customer variety (these usually with their gf but whatevs) so 5 STARS PUBLICAN GOOD JOB. ***Shoutout to cute blonde guy that served us our first drinks at the bar.
Most of the seating at The Publican is communal, with a few booths and a decent sized outdoor patio. If you are lucky enough to get a booth (stable) they have this little door that kind of closes you in and looks so damn adorable. Also communal were the bathrooms- boyz AND girlz togetha (4eva) baby. You might catch the eye of your future lover across the huge sink while you’re washing your hands with the fancy soap and lotion in there.
Howe: The Brunch Box was my starter drink – good thing because it was tiny. Not that strong but since we were waiting on food it was pretty perfect. I had the Raspberry Beret (made with amontillado) with the meal. B.E.A.utiful drink in taste and looks. We spotted some ladies pointing at it as they made their orders. Strong, flavorful, minty, and #pink, what more could a brunch need?
McD: I got the Publican Radler. I could not understand at all what was in it from the menu’s description (lots of fancy and/or French words) but I know I like radlers so I ordered it. It was nice and bubbly and tart with just a tiny bit of sweetness–very refreshing.
B: While you may have seen a misleading tweet about how a mimosa changed my life, do not be fooled, I am still very much a bloody mary girl at heart and this bloody mary CHANGED. MY. LIFE. I am not even kidding, y’all. I got the Smokin’ Mary because I like some spice. For $10 you also get a small beer back of your choice, so this is a good deal, as well. Instead of vodka, it’s made with locally sourced white whiskey, and also chipotle house mix, stout and is garnished with a piece of hard ham, a cocktail onion and a mushroom. It wasn’t so spicy I couldn’t enjoy it. The downfall of most bloody marys is that they are too salty–but this one wasn’t so I had two (!) and still didn’t have to chug a bottle of water before we left.
Howe: Red wine poached eggs! Wow Wow Wow. This was an excellent dish and was surprisingly simple. The seasoning were amazing and the bread it was served on was extra delicious. McD had an incredibly crispy side of hashbrowns that I helped myself to as well – hashbrown heaven.
McD: I got the pimento cheese toast, which was a thick slice of toasted bread topped with a spicy cheese spread, shredded ham, and 2 fried eggs. If you love ham you should get this because it was seriously a mountain of ham. I know Chicago is known for our meat heavy sandwiches, but whoa that was like half a pig. The cheesy spread part was just enough spicy and the eggs yolks were perfectly runny. How come us normal people can never make perfect sunny side eggs at home? Mine always end up with brown spots. Publican rotates some of its dishes but If this one is still available when we come back I’d have to get it again. Perfection.
I also got the hashbrowns which came in the form of a large patty. WOW WOW WOW WHOA WHOA. They were nice and crunchy on the outside and on the inside they were almost creamy, I think they were made with sour cream or something. TRY THESE YO. But share them because it’s a huge plate. Or eat them all yourself, it’s your life.
B: On the menu, my dish was called “Shishito Peppers” but I had no idea what that truly meant. It was listed as also having a fried egg, duck confit and summer squash. These are all things I love, and I assumed they’d be together in some sort of potato hash, but it was actually just these vegetables and duck pieces and an egg. I was worried it wouldn’t actually fill me up– but it did! (and then I got overfull because those hash browns McD got were sooooooo good and I ate too many). This dish was damn flavorful. I’d never had these little peps before in my life but they were cooked perfectly and summer squash (yellow squash, zucchini) is da bomb.com. Once again, not too salty, which I am now realizing is kind of a downfall of a lot of savory brunch items. I thought about this dish for the rest of the day.
Because The Publican is so new and hip and trendy and the waitstaff is attractive, we thought it was going to be harder to get in and a lot more expensive. Neither of these things, thankfully, turned out to be true. However, I was not expecting the vibe to be so stockyard-y. (Sorry, I am a bad Chicagoan/English Major for having never read The Jungle. -B) It’s a cute idea, because there are giant pig paintings on the walls and tables inside of corrals for parties of four or less. If you’re one of those people who don’t like to be reminded of what animal is inside that sausage/burger/whatever you’re eating just keep your eyes down and away from all the pigs.
We strolled around the neighborhood and just wanted to remind you all who runs the 20-something Chicago brunch game: #niche