Restaurant Review: The Publican

The bf, also a self-proclaimed foodie, recently got a recommendation from a work buddy to try out The Publican, an American restaurant, in Fulton Market. Being a foodie dork, of course he looks it up on Yelp and finds that The Publican has pretty awesome ratings. The Publican is another trendy American restaurant, created by the same people of avec and blackbird,  in Chicago that focuses on beer and pork. Being super close to our place, we decided to try it out. The Publican is located on Fulton so expect to find street parking or valet. The restaurant is dimly lit and huge murals of extra fat pigs hang throughout the restaurant. This time, we did make reservations and were seated right away in a communal long table similar to avec. This part was quite awkward. Sitting uncomfortably close to strangers. Sitting down first and bf taking the long walk to the other side of the table. Good thing our waitress was friendly and the place has an incredibly cool interior. Besides sitting at the communal tables, you can also sit at a table alongside the walls. But that is if you want to feel like you’re closed off in a pig pen. Each table is closed off with a wooden door that traps you in with your other pig buddies creating a more private dining experience. Moving on to the food. We ordered a lot because we were hangry (hungry + angry), but you’ll see that it wasn’t really that much.

We started off with the chef's selection of an oyster platter. I'm a fresh oyster whore so this was heaven to me. It also came with homemade crackers which was out of this world.

Pork rinds sprinkled with cheese powder. I could've done without the cheese powder, but good nonetheless.

Fries with eggs. The idea sounds so good, but it was so not. The fries were good. Like diner down the street good. The egg was good. Together, it just didn't mesh as well as I had hoped. It tasted like two separate dishes, one placed on top of the other. I really looked forward to yolk covered fries, but the fries overpowered the yolky taste.

And then came the Boudin Blane. Sausage with cream cabbage and pomegranate. This was the highlight of the experience. Sausage was incredibly tasty and went extremely well with the creamy cabbage. Only complaint that the dish was extremely small (I mean look how big that fork looks next to the sausage....that's what she said)

Suckling pig with some chickpeas underneath. This was very disappointing. They pride themselves in their pork dishes, yet this was very mediocre. It was a little dry. The crunchy skin was the best part.

Still hungry from the small portions, we decided to order Chocolate Budino. It comes with a peanut buttle cookie, coffee gelato, and honey & cashew brittle. Best part was the gelato. The crunchy honey brittle was awesome, but chocolate budino was way too sweet and strong. Enjoy in small doses.

Overall, there were ups and downs with the food. Oysters and Sausage were my favs. The others weren’t necessarily bad, but definitely not memorable. Staff is nice and food came at a good pace. Expect to spend about $40 per person. I would give this a 3/5 star. Do I like this place? Yea, but not enough to go back.

 

Restaurant Review: Grange Hall Burger Bar

First thing’s first: For those that do not know me on a personal level, I am a meat lover. I love chicken, pork, duck, and BEEF. Oddly though, I have not been into burgers until more recent years. Perhaps because I was living in a world of restaurants that offered less than good quality burger meat. Not that it’s not good and I would not go get myself a hamburger from good ol’ Mickey D’s. It’s not exactly something I salivate over. Then, I moved to Chicago and more recently the meat packing district West Loop. While trying to kill time at work, I tried to search for a good burger joint in West Loop on Yelp (warning: this method is not always accurate). After typing in “burger” in “West Loop”, Grange Hall Burger Bar popped up to be one of the highest rated burger joint in WL. Better yet, less than a mile from my place. Sold.

So we pull up to Grange Hall Burger Bar at 844 West Randolph Street and surprisingly got an awesome parking spot right in front of the restaurant.

Restaurant front....had no idea what to expect. Just strongly hoping that it will live up to the hype.

Walking through the door was like walking through a time warp. We stepped into an old American barn house. How fun. Greeted by a jolly young chap in suspenders, we were told that the bar seats were open to immediate seating. Sounds familiar. This place is very cute. Old school cabinets with little glass jars, mismatched vintage silverware, fresh pecan pie on the bar table, staff obviously obsessed with the new Old American trend, no wonder I felt like going home to change into plaid and denim.

My set of silverware. It said "1899" on the back. Kind of creepy and awesome at the same time.

Grange Hall serves a simple, but solid menu with classic American food. My eating partner and I both ordered beef burgers. Grange serves grass fed, hormone and antibiotics free, burgers. You can choose beef, turkey, or vegetarian. The usual toppings (lettuce, tomato, etc) are free, but “cheese & things” comes with a small charge. We also ordered a side of hand cut fries and onion rings to complete the meal.

My beef burger topped with lettuce, onion, and avocado. Side of onion rings accompanied with ketchup and the best mustard I've ever had. Btw, do you see the blood collecting on the piece of lettuce? Beautiful.

My burger was cooked medium rare and juicy as hell. I really liked how they don’t ask you how you’d like your burgers cooked, because there is only one perfect way to cook it. Trust me. They know what’s best for you. You can taste the awesome quality of the beef and it tastes good. Little pieces of chewy fat was well disbursed throughout the meat. The bun is a sesame & poppy seed bun that is slightly sweet. Delicious. Onion rings were thin, light, and greasy in a good way.

My burger cut in half. Perfection.

My eating buddy's burger and hand cut fries. Burger topped with lettuce, onion, tomato, caramelized onion, and fried egg.

Close up of the burger. The egg was cooked to perfection. Punctured it with a fork and the yolk bursted beautifully throughout the burger.

After inhaling our burgers, we were talked into getting their famous pecan pie ala mode. Everything is made in house. House spun cinnamon ice cream and homemade pecan pie topped with fresh cream. Hell yeah, I’ll get it. Grange features different pies each month and seasonal ice cream flavors as well. If you are a pecan lover, I highly suggest you pay them a visit before December ends.

Grange Hall Burger Bar is definitely my new favorite burger joint in Chicago. The staff was nice and not trying too hard. Burgers were amazing. Dessert just as amazing. Can not wait to go back and sink my teeth in more bloody meat.

2NE1 + Jeremy Scott’s Collage Wing Collaboration for Adidas

Restaurant Review: Yusho

After reading a hyped up article on Matthias Merges’ new yakitori inspired restaurant, Yusho,  in Chicago, I knew a had to hit it up. On Yusho’s site, the restaurant claims to be a “no glamour required”, street food inspired joint. Being a big fan of grilled meat on a stick (that’s what she said….), just the idea of an “authentic” yakitori place in Chitown had me drooling over my keyboard. Located in Logan Square, expect to hunt for a parking spot on the streets. Upon entrance of the restaurant, I could already tell that this was not going to be as “no glamour required” and “simple” as the article and site claimed to be. But desperate for a good yakitori meal, we venture further into the restaurant where a friendly staff in a Yusho T-shirt opens the door for us. The staff explained to us that since we did not make reservations (glamour free??), we could either dine in their “lounge” aka waiting area or wait one hour. No problem. We opted for the “lounge”. After ordering the type of water we wanted (“still or sparkling?”), our waitress informed us that we were able to sit at the bar. Awesome! We decided to go all out on this yakitori joint.

Our first two dishes came in unison…

Duck Leg: Duck with wasabi sweet onions and spicy almonds. The only thing good about this was the sweet onion and almonds. Duck was cold and dry. Bummer..

Chicken Wing: Paired with a wedge of lime and bonito salt. This was very mediocre.

Waited a little while and then there were more….

Chicken Skin: If things weren't dissapointing enough, this did the job. For $6, you get a hair of chicken skin...that is chewy in a bad way and can really use a pinch of salt.

Sea Urchin: I'm a major sucker for sea urchin. I wish this dish just came with the sea urchin alone. Instead it came as two tiny springrolls filled with waterchestnuts(?) which were a bit on the greasy side. The sea urchin was fresh and delicious, but what sea urchin isn't?

As we start to get a little hopeless, this gem revived our taste buds.

Pork Belly! This was actually legit. The softness of the pork belly fat was balanced off with the crunchy crispness of the crosnes and kimchi. Perfection. This was a dish to get your panties in a bunch over, but mind you, still not quite the streetfood yakitori I so longingly hoped for.

We were obviously still hangry (hungry + angry) after these “yakitori’s” so we ordered the 2x Fried Chicken. We didn’t even bother to take a picture of it, but it came in 3 pieces alongside a spicy dipping sauce. Good, but can’t say it was bomdiggity.  The owner did share his own brew of seasonal chuhai with us which was awesome. Very grapefruitty and dangerous for girls that can’t drink real beer. Our bill came in a cute little sardine can. How cute.

No matter how cute this was, it did not make me feel better about the bill.

Overall, we had a very fun time. Will we go back? Most likely not. Although the staff was nice, the food was overpriced and definitely a disappointment if you’re looking for “real” yakitori. Unfortunately, I felt that Yusho was another example of how messing with the basics just ruins the beauty of the original. In this case – grilled meat on a stick.

Sad that my first post is about Justin Bieber…

Is it bad that I’ve been liking the Bieb’s xmas tunes? Stumbled upon Mistletoe and it just sucked me into a JB xmas twilight zone. @_@ Hope you enjoy these as much as I do.