Tag Archives: Paul Kahan

Harissa Bloody Mary, avec

Sharing is caring when it comes to food and friends. Maybe not when it comes to bloody marys.

We’ve been wanting to check out the Sunday brunch at avec for, well, as long as it’s been around. No Paul Kahan concept has let us down yet.

Let’s start with the vibe. Get ready to get cozy. If you’ve been to avec, you know the concept is communal, and by nature, easy to get social and share small plates with your neighbors.


The one thing we wouldn’t share: our Harissa Bloody Marys. Our first thought: What’s going on here? It’s different. We liked the flavor but couldn’t quite our taste buds on what was included. Sophisticated was a word that was used. The harissa (which is actually a hot chili paste made of roasted red pepper, serrano and other spices) gave this bloody a smoky and spicy side that was perfectly mellowed and balanced by the Belgian beer Atomium Premier Grand Cru. We were told the beer back rotates out, but the lemon saison we had served as the perfect complement.


Now the food. You will not be disappointed. All three of the dishes we ordered were incredible, particularly the breakfast pizza. This wood fired work of art comes topped with pancetta, sunnyside eggs, roasted potatoes and onions and peppers. It’s savory and delicious.


Next up, we ordered the fried chicken wings with Moroccan pancake. It was the perfect mashup of textures and flavors between the crispy chicken, savory pancake, smoky harissa and slightly sweet honey butter. We would eat that over and over again.


Also eaten and not pictured were the chorizo-stuffed mejool dates as we’re usually a sucker for anything date-related (food, that is). It was delicious and not to mention, large and in charge for a small plate, but not as standout as the other two dishes. To round it all out, we tried these tasty nutter butter treats. An amazing way to end an amazing meal.

If you want to cozy up for brunch and try a one-of-a-kind bloody, don’t hesitate to give avec’s brunch a try.

Harissa Bloody Mary:  Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:        3.5

Spicy:      3.25

Treats:       3.25

Creativity: 4

Overall:      3.5

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Bloody Mary, The Publican

Apologies for the brief hiatus!

The Bloody Best gals were busy traveling and drinking bloody marys in other cities. Now that we’re back in sweet home Chicago, let’s pick up where we left off and enjoy some Windy City brunch, shall we?

For our most recent adventure, we decided to give The Publican a whirl. And why not? Chef Paul Kahan of Avec, Blackbird and Big Star and his crew have produced culinary gold for the past few years (note: One half of this duo practically lives at Big Star). And our Instagram feeds had us dreaming of Publican’s bloody mary.

The only real decision was whether to go on Saturday or Sunday. As it turns out, brunch menus differ by day of the weekend. Saturday’s brunch menu includes oysters. And though Sunday’s brunch menu, which includes red wine poached eggs and pork belly bibimbop, sounds delicious in its own right, oysters won.

There’s a lot going on at Publican in a very good way. First of all, the design. The restaurant layout takes a European beer hall approach with communal dining and a flood of natural lighting. It gets loud around the table, but in the end, it adds to the mirthy ambiance.

Let’s talk about why we’re here though. The Bloody Mary. Because Publican is a self-proclaimed “beer-focused restaurant,” it’s no surprise you won’t get a PBR or Old Style beer back. In fact, you choose your own. On Saturdays, you pick between Young’s Chocolate Stout, Three Floyds’ Zombie Dust or Allagash Curieux. Zombie Dust was the popular choice with our crew.

What makes this bloody mary so bloody good is its homemade celery bitters and pickled vegetable garnishes. Normally, half of this duo doesn’t like celery and thinks its a cop-out garnish. But celery bitters make the Publican Bloody Mary a true stand out.

The pickled vegetable garnishes were some of the best we’ve experienced. Pickled cucumbers, cauliflower and onions. Awesome. The pickled cucumbers add a hint of vinegary sweetness, and if anyone knows if you can buy them somewhere, please do tell.

The Publican Bloody Mary is also made with a homemade mix and Tito’s Vodka. The mix itself has a nice subtle kick and a smokey undertone. Paired with the celery bitters and pickled flavors, this bloody mary is also solid gold. Also of note is its value. Price varies by beer back choice, but $7 for the Publican Bloody Mary and a Zombie Dust beer back seems incredibly reasonable, especially with the quality of  ingredients.

And now, the food.

Oysters aren’t typical brunch fare (right?), but they were a fun early afternoon treat for us. They are handpicked by purveyors from around the continental US and Canada and served with a homemade hot sauce. And the bacon!! Dear god, the bacon. Maybe the best bacon of our lives, which is a grand statement. It’s thickly cut, perfectly seasoned and charred, and then bathed in a light maple syrup. Are you drooling yet?

Publican prides itself in taking a farmhouse fare approach to its menu. And they’ve seemed to master simple, delicious food. As many restaurants do these days, Publican sources organic local meat. The pork, for example, comes from a farm in Iowa.

The food did not disappoint. The Farm Chicken was perfectly seasoned and came in a hearty portion along with homemade sausage and hashbrowns. The Soft-Scrambled Egg Focaccia was tasty and uncomplicated with onions, mushrooms, leeks and salami. And the Turkey Schnitzel & Waffle was delightfully sweet and savory.

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Paul Kahan was in the house. Or more likely that The Publican has nailed amazingly simple, delicious food and drinks. Either way, everyone in our brunch crew left the table very happy.

Publican Bloody Mary: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:         4

Spicy:          3

Treats:        4.5

Creativity: 4 

Overall:      4

Wishing you bloody mary delights and sweet culinary dreams. Until next time!

Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
The Publican
* Overall
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
Near West Side / American New
* Street Address
837 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
* Phone
(312) 733-9555
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