I Say the Publican Does Not Fear Fresh

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May 5, 2009 at 9:27 am

Rob Gardner

Like most food obsessed, I’ve been wanting to try the Publican since it was just a glimmer of Beard award a-hopin design.  I’ve been saying now, for ages, to my wife, we need to try the Publican.  She keeps on saying, “I hear we have to try it for the Sunday family meal.”  The two says final met the other day.  And I’d say my wife knew what she was saying.  I’d also say that the Publican showed no fear of fresh.  Bereft of local fruit, they did the sensible thing and made dessert from canned pears.  I’d say that’s a good thing.

The Publican is no slave, like me, to the locavore ethos.  Then again what kind of follower am I when I’m scarfing down every last bit of shrimp head I can find on my plate, and on my daughter’s plate.  Those Captain Dino  Louisiana gulf shrimp had me in rechid heresy, nor did I mind blaspheming over boar procured from a secessionist loving place like Texas.  At least the middle course, chicken, in the form of chicken sausage, came local, from George Rasmussen’s Swan Creek Farm (who needs more than us to eat his chickens right now, please help).  Here’s the thing about that one course of local.  I wanted less local and more of the Byrd Mill grits.  I mean no offense to George or his lovely chickens but the sausages would have been fine a size or two skinnier and the plate filled up instead with the out-of-town grits.

Anyways, regardless of where some of the food comes from, and believe you me, most of it is sourced locally, the thing that makes the Publican a locavore favorite is the fact that they fear no fresh.  The Sustainable Cook, Melissa Graham has been saying this a lot too.  Don’t reach for the product that seems fresh.  Is that Costco cutesy melon the best example of fruit?  I mean lets not even get into winter tomatoes.  The seasonal bounty can usually be counted on to be preserved (usually).  This time of year when rhubarb is just creeping in and cherries and strawberries are just mistakes in seasonality charts, the smart chefs reach for the larder.  There are many dishes where the preserving will not impact the dish.  Like the Publican did.

The Publican finished us off with what they should call their Beard dessert.  I mean this combination of almond financier, roasted pear and salted caramel gelato perfectly matched the winning brown tones of the restaurant.  The canned pear added just the right touch too, playing against the richly soaked cake and the salty ice cream.  Standing up against the tyranny of the fresh was the right call.

I’d say get yourself to a Publican family dinner soon.  $45 bargain dollars (really) per person. The $15 Surly (yes let’s call a Minnesota beer local!) tasting went down just as good.

Publican

845 W Fulton Market

Chicago, IL 60607

(312) 733-9555

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One Comment

  1. Sounds great. Our meal at Publican was mixed. The mussels were a revelation, while my dish unmemorable. I was sad to have missed out on reservations for this Sunday, but I’m sure our brunch at Sepia will be just lovely.

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