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Bristol, Farmerie 58, or Publican

  • j

Anyone one have reviews for these places? Did a search and didn't come up with any posts.


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  1. They are all very new. Based on the track record of the owners, I'd put my money on Publican.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ems

      based on what i know i would go to Bristol...i am moving back to Chicago in 2 weeks and it will be my 1st dinner destination.

    2. Publican is getting good buzz and strong reviews. It's the one I want to try first. LTHforum has some pictures up from a few folks that tried it. It seems like the oysters, ham, sweetbreads and pork rinds are what to try (and the great selection of beers, of course).

      1. Bristol Report:

        Ok, so last night Mr. CG and I went to a terrible concert (too loud, too distorted -- we're getting old) and left early.

        Hungry. Where should we go?

        Bristol is literally walking distance from home. We loved it early on when it was BabaLuci and then that went downhill. LaCava was not worth the bother. The early reviews were intriguing so we stopped there.

        They serve late. Good. Nice wine list, even by the glass. Also good.

        The food, as you may know is mostly small dishes so we had the chance to graze and try a lot. The fried green tomatoes were a little too heavily breaded, but nicely spicey. Could have used a bit more sauce.

        Sardines were small (ok they were sardines, but there were only 3 of them) and not memorable.

        Wings were wonderfully de-constructed Buffalo-type. Boned and instead of spicy sauce on the outside, they were stuffed with chorizo. They sat in a light blue cheese cream sauce and were topped with finely sliced and dressed celery, plus leaves. A winner.

        Mussels were one hit of the evening. Big, juicy and in a great broth, slightly thickened with egg yolk.

        The much vaunted money bread was fresh and hot. Next time I want to try the flatbread with bacon and "melted leeks."

        The other hit was the chocolate saboyan with homemdade "nutterbutter" cookies. Another deconstructed wonder, laced with sea salt, the darn thing should be illegal.

        The only down side was that the service was a little hovering and patronizing, but maybe it was just the particular waiter we had. We'll have to see, but we will go back. The kitchen knows what it is doing. Look forward to see how it evolves.

        6 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          We also live walking distance to Bristol, and have been several times. Chicgail, maybe we've seen each other in the 'hood?

          I haven't been to the others yet. The food is good - and I think it's a reasonable value for what you are getting. The folks who work there are nice. I see what you're saying about "hovering and patronizing" but I think it's more that they are new and don't want to screw up, and want to make sure that people who haven't been there before "get" what they are doing. I'd change the words to "overeager and overinformative" - a more positive interpretation of the behavior ;)

          1. re: leek

            Ok, neighbor, thanks for the new context in which to hold the waitstaff at Bristol.

            I have a question for you. Have you tried Duchamps yet? I wanted to like Meritage in the worst way, and traied it several times. While I loved the garden and I always felt that the food was good, it never occurred for me as stunning and the prices out of line for what I got. I've heard mixed things about the new place, and I'm curious. Have you been there? What did you think? Is it the same kitchen staff/management?

            Now, if we run into each other in the "hood, how in the heck will we know it? Do you look like that yellow car? I may look a little like the baby, but I have aged a tad since then.

            1. re: chicgail

              Hah, I drive that yellow car, hope I don't look like it :) Hmm...

              I also thought Meritage was overpriced. I am not thrilled with Duchamp, but the patio is so nice we'll probably go back in the summer. It is not the same owner/manager. We'll see how they do over the winter.

              1. re: leek

                I, also, am in the Btown hood. I have been interested to try The Bristol, but am underwhelmed by communal seating....any others you have tried in the area lately you have liked? I found Duchamp to be overpriced, overhyped with average food (and small portions). I also think the garden area when it was Meritage was much prettier than what it is now (although I, too, agree about Meritage being overpriced and kind of boring). I have to say that I am not typically a Francesca fan, I do really enjoy Francesca's Forno...

                1. re: ljero

                  Okay, should we arrange a Bucktown meetup? I live just a couple of blocks from the Bristol as well. Went last Tuesday night and . . . wanted to like it far more than I actually did.

                  The room is warm and pleasant (ljero, there are several two- and four-tops, and two big communal tables as well as bar seating), the service slightly oversolicitous but I won't knock off points for that. Good wine & beer selection. My big problem was that I didn't find any of the flavors very compelling. Everything, from the monkey bread to the roasted squash, was undersalted. The grilled prawns had a really weird texture, like they'd been marinated too long. And the pork-belly pierogis sounded like a great idea but the filling was mighty mushy/cheesy/nondescript.

                  The place was hopping by 7 p.m., though, and seems to stay that way long into the night. I'll try it again but am bummed that my high hopes weren't realized.

                  1. re: mcgeary

                    Def. should have a Bucktown meetup :) I think the mods frown on arranging things here though, so sign up at LTHforum.com and we can do it over there.

                    I never thought the monkey bread sounded worth getting - I don't want to have to pay for bread! I think they may have dialed the salt down too much - it was all oversalted when they first opened. I've liked the salads a lot, and want to try the burger.

        2. I was there last week and posted a review on my dining blog...we mostly went in for straight-up pork and beer, but they have quite a few great-looking seafood dishes too. My regret? Not getting the fries with the farm fresh egg on top...they're supposed to be really good. But I'll definitely be back. Check out my review here: http://www.examiner.com/x-396-Chicago...

          1. This week's Chicago Magazine's Dish column noted that the chef at Farmerie 58 just quit, after the restaurant had been open all of five weeks.

            1. Publican is on my short list of restaurants to try, the other two aren't even on my list.

              I have heard interesting, and good things about Publican, if you decide to go there please post your review.

              1. A brief review of Publican - excellent food, great beer list, but not the sort of place you walk in alone to get a beer.

                12 rotating taps will have 5-6 beers not seen anywhere else in town, save maybe Hopleaf. I had the excellent 10 Commandments from Lost Abbey brewing. Had some very tasty kale with porchetta and some nice oysters while sitting with some friends, but when trying to visit again to try one or two more of their beers, I was made to wait, even though there was several seats near the bar. I finally took off after about ten minutes

                I shouldn't have told the hostess that all I wanted was a beer.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kiplog

                  My first posting to the site, but I eat out often enough that feel that I should provide feedback as I've appreciated commentary by others on the site.
                  My friends and I had a terrible experience at the Publican over the weekend. From the moment we walked in, from the hostesses to the waiters (with the exception of the waitress in the bar) had major attitude as if we should be lucky to be there. Poor customer service all the way around.
                  The food, which I thought was ok, overpriced for what it we got, and 2 of our group nded up 're-visiting' their food later that night-not good.
                  The reason I post this is because there are SO many great restaurants in Chicago, there is absolutely no need to bother with Publican.
                  On the flip side, ate at Blubird in Bucktown/W-park - great meal (Mussels, skirt steak, flatbread), excellent service, comfortable. I've been several times and will continue to return.

                2. I do NOT recommend Publican. The service was friendly, but inefficient. I was seated by the door, was too cold, and it took asking 3 people several times to get moved. I might have ordered wrong, but I was very disappointed by the food. (The country rib is extremely fatty.) I liked the wine and beer list, but wouldn't go back for anything else.

                  1. I just went to Publican this past week. I really enjoyed my experience. Super cozy and the service was friendly. Of course, I went on a weeknight when there was practically a blizzard outside and the dining room was only about a third full...

                    Anyway, the beer list was pretty impressive, although I did not partake, unfortunately.

                    I had the ham plate, which was fine. My husband had oysters. They had both east and west coast oysters, so that was nice. I believe they were prepared mignonette style. Hubby was seriously upset by the lack of cocktail sauce. I, however, thought they were delicious and that you could taste the oysters a lot better without the ketchup and horseradish.

                    My husband and I then split the mussels and the chicken with potato dish. Surprisingly, the chicken dish stole the show. The chicken was moist and flavorful...the drippings had soaked into the fried potatoes underneath. I usually don't go for soggy fries, but the flavor added by the drippings more than made up for the limpness of the fries. It was a perfect dish for a seriously cold, snowy day. The mussels were also quite good--they were large and the sauce cut into the briny flavor well.

                    Overall, I really liked the restaurant. It's the first gastropub I've been to that I would go back to. Next time, I'll make sure to try some beer. I think it would be a really fun place with a group of people as the plates are meant to be shared. My only caveat is that the bill could add up very quickly and you shouldn't expect anything fancy as it is essentially peasant food.

                    I almost forgot. Both the bread and butter were excellent. So, you could always fill up on bread, butter, and beer and select a couple of well chosen dishes and maybe get away without spending too much money.

                    1. I had the opportunity to eat at the Publican while I was in town from Boston for the holidays and would highly recommend it. My DC and I ordered several items and shared so I will quickly breakdown what we had.

                      Striped bass crudo-fresh and light and the blood organges provided some great acidity.

                      Pork Rinds - salty and crunchy. Nothing exceptional but the fact that they were homemade made them more interesting.

                      The Charcuterie plate that night had partridge terrine, head cheese, smoked chicken, pork pie, lardo with accompaniments. The lardo was silky smooth and addictive, the smoked chicken left you wanting more but the two surprises were the partridge terrine and pork pie which were both outstanding.

                      Veal brains - I had never had brains before and at $10 an order I figured how could I pass these up? They were fried and reminded me of sweetbreads but with an even more delicate flavor and a very custardy texture. I would order them again.

                      Country ribs - Beef ribs that had a wonderful beef flavor and that were cooked perfectly with a nice polenta on the side.

                      My DC and I also had the pickle mixture which was very good (four different kinds if my memory serves) and the fries which were delicious and crisp.

                      Our server was very attentive and replaced my empty beer glass with a full one when necessary. He also provided a very good description of the brains when I told him I was considering ordering them. The Publican will most certainly be a frequent stop for me when I am in Chicago on my handful of visits a year. I hope that in the economic climate they are able to weather the storm and keep their menu at the same level it was at when I visited.