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SAVOR Publican Quality Meats; Banchet Awards
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Fittingly located in the heart of Chicago's meatpacking district, Publican Quality Meats ( PQM ) ( 825 W. Fulton Market; ) will probably be unlike almost any spot you'll encounter—and that's a good thing, in this case.

That's because Publican—from One Off Hospitality Group, which is behind an impressive array of spots, including Blackbird, avec, The Violet Hour and Publican Anker—is a combination butcher shop, neighborhood cafe, bakery and gourmet market. The look is intriguing, as one goes by a selection of meats to sit at communal tables ( which I have mixed feelings about ) situated next to display cases from which patrons can purchase items ranging from duck fat to butterscotch soda.

However, I wasn't there to buy salami or beef heart by the pound ( at least on this day ); it was all about what the cafe offers—and there's something to everyone's liking. That includes libations, which range from the aforementioned soda to beer/wine to a lengthy list of coffee-related drinks ( necessary during this frigid weather ).

Starters at PQM include sweet-potato soup ( tasty but a little thin, even with pomegranate molasses ), turkey chili verde, pozole rojo ( with pork shoulder, guajillo chili, hominy, cabbage, radish and cilantro ), You've Got Salad ( evident from the name ) and The Beet Goes On ( a beet dish with smoked whitefish on rye bread ).

A lot of people go to this spot for the sandwiches, and it's easy to understand why. My Parm #2 ( breaded chicken cutlet, basil tomato sauce, fried sage and mozzarella on a sesame roll ) was a solid choice. However, you may opt for sandwiches like Tom's Silver Medal ( spicy capicola, lonza cotto, ham, provolone, pickled peppers, piperade and aioli on a hoagie roll ) or Hot Guts ( steeped in Southern tradition ).

However, despite the spot's name, PQM has several vegetarian options. They include sandwiches like the Broccoli Crue ( charred broccoli, piperade, sundried tomato, almond aillade, calabrian chile aioli and gouda on naan ) and the BGS ( the manager's initials, and it contains crispy falafel, red curry soubise, urfa yogurt, fennel, pickled cauliflower and gem lettuce on a potato bun ). Also, there are the previously mentioned salad and sweet-potato soup. Also, sides include marinated kale. ( I skipped this, but don't let me stop you. )

And please don't skip out on desserts. Up front is a tantalizing selection of sweets, such as gooey ( gluten-free ) chocolate-chip cookies, oatmeal pies and cupcakes.

By the way, PQM is also open on weekends, with Butcher's Breakfast and the Brunch Burger offered alongside the usual sandwiches. I'll have to stop by again.

There's one caveat, though: PQM closes at 5 p.m. during the week and Sundays ( 6 p.m. on Saturdays )—which means there's only a limited time each day to enjoy this spot's delightful items.

Jean Banchet Awards

On Jan. 13, more than 400 culinary enthusiasts gathered last night at Venue Six10for the 2019 Jean Banchet Awards.

Presented by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence are the only Chicago-based awards ceremony that recognize culinary originality and talent throughout the region.

Winnetka spot George Trois was named restaurant of the year while Jason Hammel ( Lula Cafe; Marisol ) received chef of the year honors. Some of the other winners included S.K.Y. ( best new restaurant ), Billy Sunday's Stephanie Andrews ( best mixologist ), Pacific Standard Time ( best restaurant design ), Moody Tongue ( best bar ), Pizzeria Bebu ( best neighborhood restaurant ) and Fat Rice's Elaine Townsend ( rising pastry chef of the year ).

Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.

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