There's been an uptick in in-house pickling this summer in Chicago, especially in spots that take their drinks seriously. Here are eight creative local takes on crisp, classic veggies-in-brine.
'the publican' on Serious Eats
Considering the amount of effort lavished on their drink menus, it makes sense that bars would eventually get around to crafting better snacks. And by better I mean that the snacks are now made of pork.
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.
Does anyone know when the great pretzel invasion of Chicago began? Regardless, what's especially interesting is that there are now numerous styles of pretzels to dig into.
It's all about the pork at The Publican. While Paul Kahan's place features just as much seafood, there's no hanging artwork of an oversized fish on the walls, I'm just saying.
What is it about breakfast sausage and eggs in the morning? Sure, there is something simple and satisfying about the combination, but we're guessing it goes deeper. Perhaps it's that, besides maybe a hot dog, breakfast sausage is the first sausage most of us eat as children.
As the first meal of a very busy day, breakfast is the one we often think the least about. (Plus, taking pictures of food is immeasurably harder before a cup of coffee.) It's automatic, almost like a ritual, and personal.
Anna Shovers has hit her stride in a seasonally-focused and ever-changing kitchen where Paul Kahan has given her free reign over desserts. One of her more recent creations is a chocolate cake with an unlikely addition: beets from local farmers' markets.
We may be far from either coast, but Chicago is in the midst of a love affair with the oyster, as almost every new restaurant touts its fresh oyster program. But oysters require constant care and attention, and the best places we found dedicate serious resources to doing things right. Here are some of our favorites.
A splendid plate of octopus takes some doing. Cook it too long, and it dries out; don't cook it long enough, and octopus can be as forgiving as the sole of a dress shoe. But restaurants are taking an array of thoughtful approaches right now to serving up the cephalopod. Some opt to cook it sous vide, then finish it on the grill to order, leaving the texture pleasantly pliant and the flavor slightly flamed-kissed; others grill it and chill it, allowing octopus's natural chewiness to come through on the plate. Check out the slideshow of eight octopus dishes we love in Chicago.
I won't go so far as to say that the Publican provides enough meatless dishes to make a big meal for the vegetarian diner. It's just not that kind of place. But I'd argue that it's worth a visit, say for a beer and a few plates, when you're hunting more for flavor than fulfillment.
Put an Egg on It was born out of a very simple question: do all foods taste better with an egg on them? As far as savory courses are concerned, the answer seems to be almost a definite yes. (Very unscientific calculations were in the 99 percent range.) It doesn't matter if the egg is fried, poached, or cooked in a thousand dollar sous vide machine, that plump yolk—which should slowly erupt like molten lava—improves just about everything it touches.
[Photograph: Michael Nagrant] Last month I wrote about the custard cotton candy–like interior of the best French toast ever at Chicago's new breakfast spot Jam. Well, call me fickle, but I've fallen in love with a new piece of...