Half the fun of discovering a new restaurant is sharing it with people you know will enjoy it. As Rachael Ray’s resident restaurant guru, here’s an inside look at what I report back to Rach about some of my favorite restaurant finds and food experiences!
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 10:08am
Subject: Chef Paul Kahan’s Newest… Plus a Couple More
Hey RR -
I know I’ve spoken to you about Chef Paul Kahan and business partner Donnie Madia’s restaurant ventures over and over, but their latest one is super cool. You can just tell by walking in the place that it’s a fun project and that they have such a good time doing it. One of their restaurants is called Publican, which pretty much focuses on beer, pork and oysters – nothing bad you can say about that! Well, this new one is across the street and is called Publican Quality Meats and is their answer to a butcher shop. Actually, it pretty much is a butcher shop. PQM’s charcuterie program is serious – were talking a huge variety of items on any given day. They also have a market side of things where they sell specialty foods, such as sauces, spreads and other various packaged goods, and they make homemade breads, too. But the sandwiches are the reason I love to go. I’ve had a bunch of them: the Lamb Meatball (which is now beef meatballs); the Tuna Muffaletta (which is now a version with prosciutto cotto, chorizo and toscano); and most recently the Lamb and Pork Sausage and the Ribollita Soup, which was out of control. I also recently tried the sides of kale, slaw and the potato salad, all of which were fantastic. But wait, they have brunch, too! You’re looking at choices like an egg sandwich with homemade sausage served on a homemade English muffin and more. Go! Do it, please! You’re gonna love it!
… and then a Slurping Turtle walked in the room. Well, not really, that would be weird. But Chicago chef Takashi Yagahashi’s newest venture happens to be called Slurping Turtle. What I believe grew out of Takashi’s Sunday noodle brunch at his other restaurant, aptly named Takashi, turned into a ramen-centric restaurant in the River North area of Chicago. There is plenty on the menu besides ramen, but his spicy ramen is pretty darn good. I’ve been a few times and have enjoyed his Brussels sprout dish, of course his famed duck fat fried chicken, some of his many bincho options (things on a stick), and some of his many rice and noodle options. Takashi is a great place to experience some authentic Japanese food in a fun, casual atmosphere. I still need to go back for brunch – I hear they have some amazing bento boxes going on.
And last, but certainly not least is Lockdown Bar & Grill in the Ukrainian Village area of Chicago. They have a number of delicious burgers served on pretzel buns. Some are a little funky (keep reading), but some are more straightforward. The first time I went I wanted to experience a burger in its most plain form, so I ordered a pretty simple cheese burger (to-go) and it was fantastic. If they could wow me with a basic burger for take-out, it got me that much more excited to go for dine-in. I went ahead and got the Flight Risk, which is three mini burgers that vary each week – a burger flight, if you will. The day I was there the three burgers were The Fat Elvis (bacon, banana and peanut butter), the Hawaii 5-0 (braised pork, grilled pineapple, red onion and Makers Mark BBQ) and the Border Patrol (pepper Jack cheese and carnitas on top of the burger). Though it’s quite loud and more of a bar scene, if you’re really on the lookout for a serious burger, I recommend this place.
And that’s what’s on my plate!
Publican Quality Meats
825 West Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
116 West Hubbard Street
Chicago, IL 60654
Lockdown Bar & Grill
1024 North Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, by day he runs Yum-o!, Rachael Ray’s charity focused on kids and cooking, and keeps special projects running smoothly for her. By night he hops course to course, place to place, all across the country. He’s Rach’s own personal dining guide! You can also follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate in real-time!