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Public House

December 12, 2017

  • 400 N. State Street
  • Chicago, IL 60654
  • (312) 265-1240
  • Website
  • Menu

I love going to downtown Chicago.  I don’t know if I could ever actually live in the City, but it’s such a great escape.  I love the sound.  I love the smell.  I love the sites.  I love the feel.  It’s just a different world.

A couple of months ago, I purchased tickets for Saturday Night Live: The Experience at the Museum of Broadcast Communications.  The tickets were good all day so there was no rush to get downtown.  We took our time in the morning and headed in to the city just before two o’clock.  It took a few hours to make our way to through the museum so it was about 4:30 when we walked out to go get dinner.

We didn’t have far to go.  There was a restaurant right across the street from the Museum that I have wanted to go to for some time.  It was a short trek across Kinzie to find Public House.

Public House is on the corner of State and Kinzie Streets in Chicago’s River North Neighborhood.  At 10,000 square feet, t’s a rather large gastropub/sports bar for downtown Chicago taking up what likely used to be two different store fronts.  Before Public House took over this corner storefront in 2011, the building housed Redfish Seafood Bar & Grill which also took the whole bottom floor of this four story building. 

We left the Museum without checking out the third floor because we wanted to get to the restaurant before the dinner rush.  J made the right call on this one.  The restaurant was packed when we walked in just after 4:30.  There were a couple of groups in front of us, but the hostess was able to find us a table for two just inside the bar as long as were done by 7:00.  The table was reserved for then and we had no intention of hanging around.  We just wanted dinner and a drink or two before heading home.

There are two distinct dining spaces inside Public House each with it’s own bar.  We were seated in the smaller of the two spaces near the bar.  Public House is an upscale sports bar that is currently decorated for the holidays.  There are TV’s all over the space on the walls and above the bar.  There are tables along the walls in this room leaving just enough room for a walking path all the way around the bar.

There is a pretty big drink menu that is set down with the menus.  They have more than 25 taps and more than 75 bottles and cans.  That’s just the beer menu.  There’s also a big scotch and whiskey list and a number of cocktails to choose from.

I picked the Lazurite IPA from WarPigs Brewpub which, while being based in Denmark, actually has roots at 3 Floyds Brewing in nearby Munster, IN.

J picked one of the house cocktails choosing the Pink Basil.  This drink is Bacardi Superior, St. Germain, a grape, lemon, and a basil leaf.  This delicious drink tasted like a boozy pink lemonade.  Very delicious.

There was so much on this menu that sounded good.  J and I discussed how we were going to tackle it for quite a while to make sure we got everything we wanted to try.  Public House smokes meats in house so that was a priority as were the fries that looked delicious at the table next to us.

J talked me into ordering the Waygu Brisket Dip.  I was leaning towards the burger but she was right.  I needed to try this sandwich.  The brisket is from a Waygu cow which makes it ever more buttery and tender than regular brisket.  The beef is topped with Swiss cheese and grilled onions.  It’s served on a buttery roll alongside an au jus made with a stout.  The sandwich was so damn tasty.  The meat just melted in my mouth and the onion-y au jus softened up the crusty roll adding even more flavor to each bite.  I hesitated on this sandwich at first because, damn…I like burgers, but this was the right choice.

There are few fry options for the side choices.  I picked the Parmesan Garlic Fries.  On paper these sound really good, and they were.  Each of the hand cut fries has a heavy seasoning of shredded Parmesan cheese and garlic mixture.  The problem was almost every fry in the little metal basket was tiny.  It was like I got the very bottom of the last batch of fries.  A lot of the fries were very crispy all the way through and didn’t have any of that steamy softness that makes a perfect fry.  In concept, these were very delicious, but I need fries that were a little bigger.

J had a hard time decided between the Pulled Pork Sandwich and the Multiple Choice Mac N’ Cheese….so she compromised and got the Mac n’ Cheese with pulled pork.  The mac ‘n cheese is served in a tiny cast iron skillet on a cutting board that has a hole cut out for it.  The skillet is overflowing with a creamy cheese sauce drowning the cavatappi noodles.  J got hers topped with the house smoked pulled pork but there are 12 options including one that combines all 12.  The pasta was so tasty on it’s own but the addition of the smokey, tender, juicy pork added another layer of amazingness to it.  The pork was buried underneath a layer of cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs that gave the dish one final flavor layer before it came out of the kitchen.

Part of J’s dilemma was wanting fries with her meal.  The mac ‘n cheese didn’t come with any so I suggested she get the mac ‘n cheese then order the Hand Cut Fries appetizer.  That sounded like a winner so she did.  The same hand cut fries are served out of a paper cone in a pint glass alongside your choice of three dipping sauces.  J chose the cheddar beer fondue, Parmesan peppercorn, and spicy BBQ.  She had the same issue with the fries that I did…they were all small nubs that were a little too cooked.  Between the two of us, we ate the all though so we can’t do too much complaining.  The cheddar beer fondue was my favorite of the dipping sauces.  It was a smooth, creamy, somewhat spicy cheese sauce that would make me eat my shoe if it was covered in this stuff.  J liked the spicy BBQ and actually poured some of it on her mac ‘n cheese as well as using it for the fries.  If the Parmesan peppercorn had been the only choice, we would have raved about it, but it was the weakest of the three, but still pretty tasty.


We’re not normally dessert people but it’s so rare that we get to eat a dinner in a restaurant without trying to hurry through it because of the kids.  We saw a Cake Shake come out of the kitchen and had to have one.

The Cake Shake is quite a creation.  We chose the chocolate one which is made with Boulder Beer’s Shake Chocolate Porter, chocolate ice cream and a slice of chocolate cake.  It’s served in stemware that is covered with a layer of chocolate then decorated with sprinkles and little balls of chocolate and peanut butter.  The shake was amazing.  It was just thick enough that you needed a little extra pressure in the straw to get it to come through.  There will little bits of chocolate in it as well.  We took the cake off and put it on a plate and just kind of took turns sipping the shake and taking bites of the cake.

This was a pretty expensive night out with our bill coming in at $80 before tip.  My sandwich alone was $20 and J’s meal between the mac ‘n cheese and the fries was the same.  It was worth it.   We had a great night out with great food.  The restaurant is a little loud but it did prohibit us having a conversation….again, something rare for us to do in a restaurant.  I’ve known about Public House for a while but we just don’t get downtown without kids very often.  It was great to finally get in for a meal and one that was so delicious.

Public House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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