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Dinner at Publican - 9/21/2011

zin1953 | Sep 25, 201109:28 PM

First night in Chicago.

The four star rating stems for the fact that this is the NOISIEST restaurant I think I've ever been to in my life -- even noiser than Comme Ça in Las Vegas last week!!! Part of that is the communal tables, which is fine, but the walls and ceiling are plaster, and neither the architect nor the (post-construction) design team has even attempted to do anything to lessen the noise level here . . . the San Francisco Chronicle features a bomb-with-a-lit-fuse icon to indicate very loud restaurant; this one deserves two!

So what can make up for the truly obnoxious noise level of this place? Why would I ever want to go back?? And why would I give such a deafening establishment four stars???

The FOOD. The food is definitely (and defiantly!) FIVE stars . . .

Lynn and I arrived in Chicago on Virgin America at 6:30 pm, got to our hotel, changed, grabbed a cab and made out 8:30 reservations. The place was packed, yet we were immediately seated at the corner of one of the communal tables -- picture a giant U and you get the idea of seating. Fortunately, as we were seated next to one another -- each on the outside of an L -- we could lean over and talk to each other.

We began with the "Taste of Three Hams" -- jambon serrano (from Salmanaca, Spain), la querica americano (Norwalk, Iowa), and benton country ham (Madisonville, Tennessee). Now, all three were exquisite, but the only misstep of the evening (in our opinion) was that the server named them in the reverse order of what I've listed here. We took that to mean we should try them in that order, but the intensely smoky quality of the Benton's overwhelmed the more delicate flavor and complexity of the other two.

More pig! More pig! More pig!

OK, next we had a "half order" of the house-made charcuterie -- pork pie, head cheese, and three different salumi -- all simply superb!

At this point, we needed a break from pig, and ordered the Little Gem salad. (Cue the famous Monty Python sketch: "Well, that's only got a little Spam in it!") The salad comes with radishes, julienne of crispy pig's ear, and a buttermilk vinaigrette. OMG!

Break time over: time to pig out! A half-order of Country Rib (think massive pork chop), from the Slagle Family Farm in Fairbury, Illinois and a half roasted chicken from Crystal Valley Farm in Middlebury, Indiana, served with summer sausage and frites.

Orval, Duvel, and Boon Kriek beers -- AMAZING beer list -- and by the end of the evening, we were in Hog Heaven!

Las Vegas Restaurant
914 Main St, Antioch, IL 60002

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