Publican Winter Menu

25 Jun

I had this whole plan.  I was going to eat at the Publican for brunch and dinner and feature the Publican, and one of my favorite chefs in the City, Erling Wu Bauer, in a day-to-night post.  Erling promised a tour of the kitchen and everything.  Only I never got around to brunch.  We had reservations on several occasions but, in all honesty, it’s hard for me to get down with encased meats at 10:00 a.m.  Big problem if you are brunching at the Publican.

So anyway, a lot of time has gone by.  But we did have an amazing dinner there this past winter (February, maybe) and I didn’t want to let the pictures go to waste.  This is not exactly seasonal (at the Publican, the menu changes often) but it is great food – and representative, definitely, of the quality of food you get at the Publican consistently throughout the year.The Publican looks like something out of Tim Burton’s imagination (funny I just saw Tim Burton at LACMA – I have always thought this about the Publican), if Tim Burton grew up on a farm.  And was sedated.  There are long, rustic wooden tables that span the length of the restaurant with large round hanging lights overhead.  Other tables are booth-like and contained within corral-type things that close up.  Photos (or paintings, maybe) of chubby spotted pigs seem to be everywhere.  And it is always packed.Here are Abe and Mike in our little corral.  The Publican features beer and pork-inspired dishes.  There are a number of great seafood, meat and vegetable dishes, too.  The best way to eat at the Publican is by shared plates so you get a little taste of as many things as possible.

Our first course was a light, vinegar-y, shaved Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and burrata salad.  Burrata makes everything amazing.  Period.

The mussels are a staple at the Publican.  Delicious with crusty bread.

This was also decadent and wonderful – a cauliflower gratin with a creamy bechamel sauce and toasted bread crumbs.  Awesome.I struggled with this dish.  Duck hearts on an open-faced sandwich of sorts.  They were quite literal – shaped like little hearts.  The flavor was nice (radishes were a great spicy bite with the rich meat); texture, not so much.  I was stuck on the image, anyway, and couldn’t get over it.

Sweatbreads are not typically my favorite.  But the sweatbreads at the Publican are unbelievable.  Unlike any sweatbreads you have had.  They are crunchy on the outside and light and soft on the inside.  Sweatbreads are super rich – and again, if I think about it, I die a little – but a bite or two of the Publican’s sweatbreads is worth it.

This chicken, summer sausage and frites dish is another Publican staple.  It’s so salty and delicious.  This also reminds me of a detail about the Publican that I love.  All of the plates are different.  Each are out of a story book of some kind – whimsical in a way-back-when-picnic sort of way.  Love this retro gingham pattern so much.

I am having trouble recalling this dish exactly.  It was pork of some kind (and heavy, especially as our last savory course) but good, as everything is at the Publican.  The grapes added a needed sweet burst.  I do remember that.

From there we went on to two lovely desserts.  The waffle with butter and jam is always on the menu at the Publican.  The cake was a spicy nut cake of some kind with homemade vanilla ice cream, I believe.  Delicious.

All the while, this was happening, too.  (The Publican beer sommelier are incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic.)Thanks for the lovely winter night, Publican.  And thanks to our friend Erling, too, sous-chef at the Publican (and recently featured in Bon Appetite magazine!).  

One Response to “Publican Winter Menu”

  1. arianne1220 June 26, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    The burrata salad looks really tasty (although I’m not familiar with burrata).
    Not sure I’d be comfortable eating hearts either. But I’d have no problem eating the dessert. Especially the homemade ice cream.
    Erling is really creative. I hope he can give you a tour of the kitchen soon!

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