Archive for the ‘Clinton’ Category

Publican Quality Meats sign

Publican Quality Meats is in the Fulton Market district of Chicago and is easily accessible from the Pink Line via Morgan or Clinton El stop stations. It is part of Paul Kahan’s notable empire, and is right across the road from The Publican Resturant. Not only is it a purveyor of quality meats and associated meat related deli products, but it also houses a small cafe area selling freshly made sandwiches. The seating inside is limited and communal in nature. We ended up sharing a table with two guys from Indiana who stop in about once a month. You really have to be a dedicated soul if you make that much effort to come here as this place is not in the middle of the lunchtime footfall traffic. I thought that we had done well taking three different trains to get here. Even so it was packed out, so a lot of people are going out of their way to come here. We arrived at about ten to twelve and we got the last two seats, but people were coming and going all the time and I didn’t see too many people having to wait for long.

‘But what about the food?” I hear you wonder

Sandwich Menu

Checking out the sandwich menu I was almost tempted to get the PB&L as this was listed in Chicago Magazines top 50 sandwiches edition. On the menu it is listed as lamb and pork belly sausage, feta, cilantro and piperade on a franks n’ dawgs lobster roll for $10. Chicago magazine had a great line describing it thus; “It’s like the quarteback on a team packed with future Hall-of- Famers.” I kind of like that analogy. The only thing that stopped me getting this sandwich is that I thought that it was basically a hot dog, and a Frank ‘n’ Dawgs style dog at that, and I was in Frank ‘n’ Dawgs already once this week so needed something slightly different.

Publican BLT

I had a look around the table to see what the other people had ordered and one of the guys next to us had got the BLT sandwich. He seemed very pleased with himself, telling me that it was the best bacon that he had eaten, and told us that it was $3 a slice over the road at Publican. It looked so good that I was sold on getting one for myself.

The sandwich is made from some really solid PQM bacon, it is not crispy or crunchy, but it is a really solid bite. Somewhere between caramalised and a jerky texture. It also has some thickly cut slices of tomato, some fresh crunchy lettuce and a light lemony aioli. The bread was a thinly sliced sourdough, which was a little hard and crunchy, but for once this worked really well with this sandwich. At $9 pretty good value as by all accounts there was at least $5 worth of PQM bacon in it. Apart from the bacon, the other star turn was the lemon aioli, it was not too strong and just gave a light hint of creamy lemon to every other mouthful. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Publican Pork Belly Sandwich Pork Belly Half Slice

The other sandwich that we got was the Pork Belly Sandwich, so good and popular that it sold out during the time we were there. I would say that almost every other sandwich that passed by us on the way to other tables was one of the Pork Belly 0nes. This sandwich was comprised of braised pork belly, romesco verde, watercress, apple, mint and yogurt on a ciabatta, all for just $10. The star of this morsel was the braised pork belly, which was thick, very well seasoned and  full of flavour. There was a lovely bit of luscious pork fat that was crisped to perfection. The apple, mint, and yoghurt gave an almost tzatziki like taste. The romesco verde gave the sandwich a nice spicy kick. Last but by no means least was the bread. When it said it was a ciabatta I was worried that it might be a bit hard, but it wasn’t at all, it was a lovely piece of bread and the perfect vessel to present the pork belly and all it’s tasty friends.

Publican Quality Meats

I could carry on and tell you in great detail about the displays of great meats and charcuterie, but I feel I need to leave you hanging just a little bit. if you are not near enough to make your own journey here to see for yourself, you can get a good idea if you check it all out on their website; http://publicanqualitymeats.com

Everyone was very friendly both customers and staff alike, the service was excellent, our waitress well informed about the product, and appeared proud and delighted to be working there.

Definately a destination sandwich spot.

Publican Quality Meats on Urbanspoon

 

Just a short walk away from the Clinton CTA El station, Inside the Ogilvie Transportation Station is the French Market.

This is a really nice little indoor market of artisan vendors and food stalls.

 

Almost hidden away at the back are a number of stalls cooking fresh food and amongst those stalls is Frietkoten Belgian Fries. Funnily enough with a little more research I learnt that this place is not even supposed to be a Belgian stall, it is supposed to bring Amsterdam’s traditional Frietkoten ‘fry shack’ experience. Opened by Netherlands-native Jeroen Hasenbos it specialises in hand cut Belgian fries, “served in a paper cone and distinguished by a crisp outside and soft, delicious potato inside”.

Judging by the number of different sauces that you can choose from, this place is really devoted to it’s presentation of Belgian Fries to the market stalwarts. I myself am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to dipping my Belgian Fries and pretty much stick to plain old mayonaisse. I was however quite open to the thought of dipping my fry into a pot of curry mayo.

They have also recently added gourmet cheeseburgers to their menu, using beef that is never frozen and ground fresh daily, despite the preponderance of options for the consumption of fries I decided to try one of these ‘Belgian’ Burgers. Now within my befuddled recollection I was not remembering that the Belgian’s were known for their burgers. But I guess that we are in America so maybe we will forgive them for providing the populous with their version of a US classic. Having said that I think that all they have done in this case is add the word Belgian to the front of the word Burger

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The Blue Cheese Burger looked quite tasty but I am not a massive fan of blue cheese as a topping, instead I selected the slightly less healthy option of gouda cheese and a fried egg as a topping. I did enjoy the cheese, but the egg yolk was not quite runny enough for me. I like the yolk to be the sauce in these burgers a nice yellowy creamy dribble. It was still a good moist patty and went down very well. There were too many fries and I was not too excited by them but they were not a bad rendition. I would rather be eating them in a bar in Europe though than in a food market in the states, that is part of the magic.

Overall though it was a really tasty snack, actually it was not so much a snack as a gut gusting full meal. I really did not need anything to eat for tea after this visit.

Website: http://www.frenchmarketchicago.com/vendor/frietkoten

Located at 131 North Clinton (Between Washington and Randolph) within the Ogilvie Transportation Center, nearest El Stop is the Clinton stop (Pink and Green lines)

Frietkoten Belgian Fries & Beer on Urbanspoon

 

Today I ventured out onto a new branch of the El and started my hunt up the Green and Pink lines. The first stop out of the Loop is the Clinton stop which is just near to the French Market. I figured I would save the market for a weekend when I had time to browse, so instead headed along beneath the rails to see what I could find. Nestled in between Dunkin Donuts and a 7-eleven was ‘Saigon Sisters’.

 

It looked nice inside albeit slightly empty, so I was surprised to be asked if I had a reservation when I walked in, after being asked ”I did” have a couple of reservations, but I pressed on. I sat up at the counter and had the pleasure or amusement of being able to watch a young culinary arts trainee being schooled in knife skills chopping up the chillies and slicing some duck breast.

Looking through the menu I was initially drawn to a dish called Op La which was Farm fresh eggs, Chinese Sausage, Benton’s ham, Viet Pork, pork belly, caramalized onions. The host persuaded me to try the Lamb dish though instead and being a sucker for Lamb I relented and went with his recommendation. He was right, but I was slightly miffed, especially when my choice of wine was questioned too. I guess he was doing his best to pair with the dish but to be honest I could not really tell the difference between my choice of Chardonnay and his choice of a White Burgandy. It tasted good though so I will give him that one too.

The Lamb dish arrived and after the guy behind the bar told me it was his favorite and a great choice I wondered if they were all on Lamb commission. The dish called Lamb Luc Lac comprised Lamb Tenderloin, oyster sauce, pickled red onions, arugula, french breakfast radishes, and broken rice. It was pretty tasty and after once again being told how to eat it by the host I was starting to feel ever so slightly patronised. “Yes why don’t you come round me Mam’s for Sunday Lunch and I will tell you how to fill your Yorkshire Pudding with gravy and not to leave the Broccoli stalks”.

I did like it though although it was not as full of flavour as I was expecting, I think I may well have enjoyed my original choice, which was dismissed as peasant food when I ask of it. Hold on I am a peasant, a peasant who lives on the nicer side of the haystack, but definately somewhere below the salt.

Did I have a pudding? Well yes I did, against my better judgement or rather the better judgement of my waistband. I went for the Chocolate Ganache, which was a black pepper funnel cake, flourless chocolate cake and house made ice cream. It was quite nice, a bit tricky to eat with the tea spoon they gave me, surely a fork is what I needed, that would have made it even trickier.

Pudding consumed I finished of the glass of wine, resisted temptation to have another one and headed out into the dusk and back on the El.

Saigon Sisters is located at 567 W. Lake St just next to the Clinton El Station.

Website:  http://saigonsisters.tumblr.com/

Saigon Sisters on Urbanspoon