Publican Anker

Restaurants, American creative Wicker Park
3 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Publican Anker doesn’t quite live up to the exceptional quality of its other family members, but for a casual Wicker Park hang, it’s worth checking out.

The newest member of the Publican family—joining successful siblings the Publican and Publican Quality Meats—focuses much of its menu on seafood. Think fish stew, smoked mackerel and even a swordfish sausage. But never fear, fans of Publican and PQM’s excellent house-made charcuteries and pub burger: Those meaty, from-the-farm gems are still available, and they remain the standouts.

Chef AJ Walker has fashioned a menu that imitates the early 20th-century saloons and breweries found in Wicker Park. So it’s as easy to just grab a beer and a snack as it is to plunk down for a full meal. If you’re taking option number one, go for the pickle plate, which will get you a platter of pickle slices—slightly less spicy than those at PQM—accompanied by butter and saltines. We, however, wanted to give Anker a true and thorough test run, and so went with two entrees: The dorade (a whitefish found in the Mediterranean Sea) and the pork collar. 

The dorade, it turns out, comes with a heavy side of fanfare. Your server will ask if you want to have your whole fish filleted for you, and we highly recommend it, especially if you’re something of an exhibitionist: Nearly every person in the generous bar space, sitting in the booths or occupying a smattering of high tops turned to watch the spectacle unfold at our table.

Was it tasty? Yes, the fish was grilled—flaky, topped with Aleppo pepper and served with naan and lettuce (we couldn’t figure out what exactly to do with huge pieces of bibb lettuce, but sure), letting the fish speak for itself. Would I get it again? Not unless I was trying to impress someone.

The higher notes of the evening were less piscine, including the Slagel Family Farm’s pork collar, sliced and served with apple, cilantro and urfa pepper. The pork was tender, complemented by the brightness of the fruit and the citrusy herb. A side of snappy cauliflower had a bit of a kick from salsa macha, paired with cippolini onion, hazelnut and kale.

We’ll be returning to Anker for the Industry House Shot, a shot with Letherbee’s Besk, Dolin Blanc, Aperol, Peychaud’s bitters and house orange bitters, coupled with a beer and a main course from the farm. If there’s something that chef Walker always gets right, it’s his meats.

Vitals

Atmosphere: Pub-like, with dark blue-accented decor. Tables are dark wood, and the place has a nautical feel, all the way down to the boisterous crowd.

What to eat: Stick to AJ Walker’s strengths, the meats you’d find on a farm. And absolutely finish with the warm, sticky and almost impossibly light banoffee pudding.

What to drink: The cocktails are fine, but we recommend ordering a shot and a beer of your choice.

Where to sit: Large groups should grab a booth, but our next visit will be at the bar.

By: Elizabeth Atkinson

Posted:

Venue name: Publican Anker
Contact:
Address: 1576 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago

Opening hours: Sun–Thurs 3:30–11pm, Fri–Sat 3:30pm–12am
Transport: El: Blue line to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72.
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Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|4
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tastemaker

I have to agree with a few of the other reviewers/Tastemakers here; I also had high hopes and was let down. The brunch was not great. The thick-cut bacon and potatoes were both tasty, but my entree (a frittata) was soggy and off-putting. I don't think I'd come back here when the Bongo Room is so close by... 

tastemaker

Went here for brunch and I had high hopes. It was really mediocre. We were seated at a teeny 2 person booth right by the server station. Eek. Crunch Also most of the food was nothing special. Garlicky eggs...good but not really worth a trip. Huge sausage...good but I've had better and didn't really scream breakfast. Overall I was very underwhelmed and I personally like the publican way better

Tastemaker

Like Chelsea states below, they do have far too much seating for the restaurant, and I did feel a bit cramped at the bar, but the food was outstanding. I ordered an Avocado Salad, and their Pub Burger. The salad had perfectly ripe avocados, sautéed broccolini, and spicy peanuts. Yummy. The burger was very good as well. Doesn't top Au Cheval, but its up there. Their special sauce is called 10,000 island dressing, and is on the spicy side which they don't tell you. It is house made with house made pickles with spicy chilis, and is very tasty, but a little notice would have been nice as I was not looking to order anything spicy. Server was very polite, and overall it was a great experience. 

tastemaker

I had high hopes for this new restaurant on wicker park's busiest corner but was disappointed with Publican Anker. It was a Wednesday evening but we were put at the bar area with ridiculously cramped stools and could barely move our arms to eat. They have way too much seating crammed into this space. We were just having drinks and snacks so they may have better full dinner options but the small plates were very underwhelming. The aioli served with fries had a strange flavor and the cauliflower dish was extremely dry. The servers were polite and knowledgeable but also seemed a little stressed and rushed. It seems like most of their issues could be solved by taking out some seating and improving "quality over quantity."