Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Public House

Location: 400 N State St.
Cost: Variable, but I'd ballpark it between $15 and $30 per person

I've only been to Public House a few times before, and it was always on the weekends to meet some friends for drinks. Actually, this one time when I went there, the Blackhawks were there, and I got to talk with Adam Burish while a line of women hounded Toews and Sharp. Either way, I always thought of Public House as a place with large crowds, plenty of TVs, and taps built into your table. Well, the other day, they reached out to me to check out some of their new menu items. So my friend Ronak aka 'Knuckles' and I headed a few blocks west after a busy day of studying at the library for a little feast.

Like I said in my intro, Public House has tons of TVs and plenty of good seating options to watch a game. There was even a big crew of guys having a fantasy football draft while we were eating. I don't think you'll need a reservation in the middle of the week unless there's a big sporting event. On the weekends the crowds get pretty large. There's minimal street parking in the area, so I'd suggest taking the red line.

Since we were coming in for a known review I wasn't surprised at how excellent our service was. Still, I took note that all around, people were very well attended to by the staff. In a place where small bar plates and empty beer glasses can become a nuisance, they did a good job of clearing tables. We did a sampling of the menu, but the costs normally run around $12 for an appetizer and $15 for an entree.

The Food
Thanks to the influence of my brother in law, Noam, my beer snobbishness has grown a bit recently. We use this app called Untappd which keeps track of all the beers you drink and gives you badges for being adventurous (it's become somewhat competitive). Anyways, they have a good selection at Public House. I got a Little Sumpin' Sumpin' while Knuckles went for the Marisol (a Goose Island beer limited to only a few locations).

So for our appetizers we got to try the Homemade Pretzel, the Bison Carpaccio, the Spanish Style Oyster Rockefeller, the Smoked Clam Chowder, and the Panzanella Salad. The pretzel was on the softer side and came with this thick beer and cheddar fondue. The carpaccio came very clean and simple with this wonderful savoriness. This was the first oyster for Knuckles, and she was a big fan. It came with a Manchego cheese topping that put a real interesting spin on things. The chowder was relatively traditional with tons of the money ingredients and not too many potatoes. The key was the addition of smoked bacon to add another layer of flavor. We also both really enjoyed the salad which was great for a hot summer evening. It was chock full of fresh ingredients including watermelon, tomatoes, english peas, and squash.

The Spanish Oysters Rockefeller

 The Homemade Pretzel

 The Panzanella

 The Smoked Clam Chowder

The Bison Carpaccio

After that we got to try out some of the mussels. The belgian white variety had this rich and creamy presentation. Part of me wanted to use a leftover shell to spoon up the sauce. The lemongrass ponzu variety had a spicy kimchi topping for those of you that are a bit more adventurous.

The Lemongrass Ponzu Mussels

 The Belgian White Mussels

For the main course Knuckles had the Seared Ahi Tuna, and I had a platter of the different BBQ options. The tuna came with these aromatic mushrooms and this well balanced mustard ale sauce. Each slice had a nice raw center as well. My platter included Smoked Chicken Wings, Kobe Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork, Ribs, and some Coleslaw. The wings had this really intriguing spice rub and a hearty juiciness to each bite. The brisket had a healthy fat marbling and went well with the variety of bbq sauces they had. The ribs made you work a little bit to get the meat (as they should), and the glaze gave a good edge to each bite. Finally, the pulled pork was delicious. It normally comes on a sandwich and soaked up the sauce like only a loose mop of pork strings should.

The Kobe Beef Brisket

 The Smoked Chicken Wings

 The Ribs

 The Seared Tuna

The Pulled Pork

For dessert we had the Makers Mark Ice Cream and this amazing Bananas Foster Waffle. The waffle had these sugar pearls mixed into that batter that made for a fluffy texture. The bananas went well with the ice cream too. This was one of the best desserts I've had all year.

The Makers Mark Ice Cream

 The Bananas Foster Waffle

Lot's of bars have been sprucing up their menus, but not all of them have as much to show as Public House. The variety of solid seafood options, salads, barbecue, and bar classics makes for a very versatile menu. Since this meal was on the house, there won't be a formal pearl rating, but I strongly suggest you check it out sometime soon.
Public House on Urbanspoon


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