CHICAGO: The Publican for a Great Brunch

During a recent trip to Chicago, a dear friend and fellow foodie introduced my wife and me to an interesting restaurant in the Fulton Market.

The Publican, at 837 West Fulton Market, is done in the style of a colonial public house. The restaurant offers communal seating, individual tables, and private booths that immediately reminded me of the pews in the Old North Church in Boston: very cozy but perhaps not for the claustrophobic. The restaurant’s full bar features both stool seating and stand-up tables, along with extensive wine and beer lists.

The food was interesting and well prepared. As we waited for our companion to arrive, my wife and I sipped some deliciously rich coffee and nibbled on a piece of freshly baked coffee cake.

Once our party was complete, we were brought complimentary sides of frites (fries with a dusting of Kosher salt) along with mayonnaise for dipping, and the lightest fried pork rinds I’ve ever eaten. Small wonder celebrity chef Michael Symon named them “The Best Thing He Ever Ate” on the Food Network program of the same name.

The main courses were equally good. Our friend enjoyed a red wine-poached egg with prosciutto, bernaise sauce and grilled bread. My wife’s choice was the smoked kielbasa with fennel, fingerling potatoes, apples & poached eggs, while I opted for the weisswurst – two white bratwurst links – served with an organic pretzel and Bavarian mustard. The mustard with my brats was too sweet for my taste but the stone-ground mustard with my wife’s kielbasa was perfect. Good thing we’re all friends and enjoy sharing!

Two things to note about The Publican. Even on a Sunday morning, parking was difficult, so taking a cab or the nearby El could prove easier. Second, if sitting at a communal table isn’t your thing, simply tell the host or hostess and they’ll provide you with another option. No matter where you sit, however, be prepared for an energetic atmosphere and some really good food!

Visit my main page at for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photo by Carl Dombek
Click on photo to view larger image