Field of Science


"Pigging" out in Chi-town

The occasion of the Chicago Plant Science Symposium left us with a choice: head home in the Chi-town mad rush hour, or stick around and go out to dinner with friends.  Some choices are easier than others.  Having a friend who keeps their eye on the Chi-town food scene also helps with the choice of restaurant, thus making it simple to choose the Publican at the Fulton Market.  It was about a year ago that we previously visited and on that occasion had a very satisfying dinner at the Girl and Goat, and the Publican was even better.  This is not a dining destination for the vegetarian as the primary focus is pork (See the print of the patron saint on the wall?), and beer, although the daily pickle plate was a complete delight, especially the pickled red onions with a hint of clove and the dynamite bread and butter pickles.  Our unanimous favorite seemed an unlikely menu item and it was chosen out of curiosity: fried smelt, with sweet potatoes and a garlic black olive aioli. Simple and wonderful, and who would have thought to match smelt with sweet potatoes?  Of course, anything dabbed with aioli always seems better.  The Publican's signature menu item is a pork charcuterie plate.  Of the many diverse items the pork pie that just oozes peppery pork goodness was without question the best.  Apparently you can buy whole meat pies across the street at an associated butchery.  Like many trendy eateries the Publican operates with a small plate format although some plates are entree sized.  The Phactor finds this a fun and entertaining format because you not only get to sample many more items, but the diners really share in the experience and that is largely missing in the big plate format.  Not only that but you get to select a just right amount of food rather than having to ask for a doggy bag.  The former owner of the Goose Island Brewery who sold out to Bud Lite Corp has returned to the fermentation business with cider, and one of the new premier products is a remarkable champagne-like Red Streak cider, and while the others gave the cider rave reviews, the Phactor enjoyed the Harvest Ale (Victory Brewing Co.).  When it comes to food, Chi-town doesn't take a back seat to any other city.  So, sorry Tom (famous paleobotanist), that's the reason the Phactor could not stay to hear your talk about the role of fungi in the evolution of land plants.  Again, choices had to be made, and man does not live by science alone, beer and pork help.  Oh, and fungi plays an important role here too!

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