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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

'Tis the season of soft shell crab, which explains why you've probably seen it around this site. Of course, it helps that when you properly fry a fresh soft shell crab, the exterior gets as crispy as a potato chip, while the inside remains juicy and fantastically sweet. In other words: the ideal sandwich filling. Few places get as fresh of seafood as The Publican, which partly explains why the soft shell crab sandwich ($17) on the brunch menu is one of the best examples I've found yet.

It all starts with an impeccably fried soft shell crab, as sweet and crisp as I've ever encountered. The crunch of the crab is accentuated by the toasted roll, which also manages to be light. The sweet pickles add more texture, along with a shot of acidity. The lettuce leaf is a bit unnecessary, but the smear of aioli helps bring it all together. At $17, it's certainly not cheap. But I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a sandwich as much as this one.

The Publican

837 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (map)
312-733-9555
thepublicanrestaurant.com

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