How it all began
From the team that created Blackbird and avec restaurants, The Publican is a new beer-focused restaurant located at 837 W. Fulton Market in Chicago. Executive Chef Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Brian Huston crafted an eclectic menu inspired by simple farmhouse fare in a space evocative of a European beer hall. Designed by James Beard Award-Winner Thomas Schlesser, The Publican features the same simple lines and strong design elements that made the architect’s long-time partnership with Design Project Manager/Partner Donnie Madia so successful. A partnership between Executive Chef Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia, Terry Alexander and Eduard Seitan, The Publican anchors the burgeoning Fulton Market District.
Featuring pork and fish/seafood preparations, the menu is best described by Kahan and Huston as “pristine product, simply prepared,” an approach to food Kahan has long espoused in all of his kitchens. The Publican boasts the simplest cuisine of all three properties, each dish stripped of adornment and containing only essential ingredients. The menu is presented in sections: Fish, Meat and Vegetables, each laid out from lightest to heaviest fare.
Pristinely fresh oysters, hand-selected for the restaurant from purveyors with whom the culinary team has formed partnerships over the past year, anchor the fish portion of the menu. From classic Belgian-style mussels to seafood stew to wood-roasted whole fish, the seafood is simple and straightforward yet eclectic in presentation.
Meat dishes center upon pork, all certified organic and sourced from Dyersville, Iowa. Anchored by a wide selection of housemade terrines and charcuteries, the menu changes daily to reflect the seasonal availability of products. Other hearty dishes, again, presented simply and stripped of adornment, include such seasonal items as black and white sausage, steak tartare, pork shoulder and pot-au-feu. Kahan and Huston plan to make the wood-roasted chicken a signature, “… with the best frites in town,” boasts Kahan.
A selection of vegetables rounds out the menu, including such seasonal items as daily aïoli, roasted broccoli, pine nuts and Italian buratta and cauliflower sformato with Marcona almond romesco.
Strong architectural lines dominate the space, which is large, airy and awash in earthy colors. Guests enter The Publican through a glass-enclosed vestibule, its 10-foot-high ceiling offering a glimpse of the restaurant’s 13.6-foot ceiling. Inside, the spacious interior is dominated by a large walnut communal table designed to recall 16th Century European banquets. Set up in racetrack fashion, the banquet table seats upwards of 100 people, side by side.
At the center of the banquet table stands eight English pub-style three-tiered cocktail tables where guests can stand, leaning comfortably on one level, with their beer and food resting on the other tiers. This interior space is large enough for guests who are waiting for tables or visiting the restaurant just for a beer and a bite. Against the east wall stand a series of four-top walnut banquette tables set up on platforms and privatized by table-height swinging doors.
The walls and ceiling are wrapped in a material reminiscent of antique pressed tin. Across the front of the space, 10-foot cafe-style doors open out onto the street. At the back of the restaurant, a partially open kitchen offers a view to the culinary action.