The Publican

A few months ago, I threw a dinner party. I was cooking all day and had various food shows on. I wasn’t paying much attention though I caught the words “pork” and “Chicago.” They were talking about the Publican, a gastro pub that pays homage to all manner of oinky oink piggy pig. It was positively a shrine to pork.


On the show, they mentioned the 16-hour pork chop and double-fried pork skin. I was determined to have that pork chop. I made three dinner reservations for this trip and the Publican was up the first night. We landed around 5 p.m. and our dinner reservation was at 8:30 p.m. I hadn’t eaten all day and the Publican meal would be my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Unsurprisingly, our server warned us we had ordered a lot of food but as I said, this was my BLD.

This place must be really popular because I saw Chef Nancy Silverton from L.A. (what are the chances?) also in the house this evening.

daily pickles

spicy pork rinds

We asked for the complimentary bread service (really great bread) and the pickles and spicy pork rinds to start. The pickles were house-made and I really enjoyed the fennel and pickles. Not being a big fan of carrots, I found these acceptable.

However, my mind was blown by the pork rinds. I tend to avoid skin as much as possible. But there is something to be said about crispy things. And this pork skin is doused with this addicting cheesy-tart powder. OMG! It’s like pork cheetos!


yellowtail crudo

The Yellowtail Crudo with black radish and pistachio slasa verde was quite unusual. As much as I love my raw fish, I wasn’t even eying the seafood side of the menu until I read the sidebar about Ingrid Bengis, a feminist novelist turned fishmonger. The Publican sources their shellfish from her. The mussels were sold out this evening and we decided to skip the oysters in favor of more porky goodness.

little gem salad with pig's ears

I also would have skipped salad but this salad came with thinly sliced deep-fried pig’s ears. They’re definitely better than any crouton.

suckling pig

ham chop "in hay"


My dining companion loved the suckling pig. It was indeed tender and wonderful. However, my long-awaited ham chop captured most of my attention. Along with the ham chop came the ribs which were succulent. I do have to say if you are averse to salt, this dish may not be for you. But damn wasn’t this good stuck in between some of their house bread with a good slather of butter. Ham sammie!

We had ordered one other item but it didn’t arrive. It ended up being fine because eating breakfast, lunch and dinner all at once was really not good for me. We opted to skip dessert though we tried some wonderful digestives and earlier in the evening, I enjoyed a Weller Antique and soda.

Now that I know the Publican is in the same family as Blackbird, Avec and the Violet Hour, I’ll be sure to visit the first two on my next Chicago trip.


The Publican

837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-9555