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Review Sun Sep 08 2013
There are 3 important elements of a delicious chicken wing: a flavorful exterior, sweet juicy meat, and the ability to induce excessive finger-licking. And my brunch experience at the Public House on State Street met all three criteria with a resounding hallelujah.
You see, with the start of college football, I wasn't feeling the same old sausage omelet, mimosa, burger with fries. I sure didn't want a fucking quinoa and arugula salad. In the spirit of Famous Jameis, I ordered an enormous brunch worthy of twenty NCAA titles.
For appetizers, I had smoked chicken wings (with white BBQ and spicy Carolina BBQ) and hand cut fries with sea salt parsley. For the main dishes, I had chicken and waffles (southern fried chicken, caramelized waffles, hot maple-sauce) and doughnut fried French toast (with vanilla bourbon cream, blueberry jam, and fresh blueberries). Although I could've chosen any beverage from PH's extensive collection, I was craving some good ol' root beer from Sprecher Brewery in Wisconsin.
The (very popular) doughnut French toast was pure culinary trickery--you expect a holy Krispy Kreme experience, only to find yourself fooled by the taste of French toast. Not that it wasn't delicious, but thickly coated in sugar and topped with jam and cream, this glucose overload made my teeth hurt.
The chicken and waffle plate, on the other hand, was Southern comfort food at its finest. The crispy chicken was nothing short of deep-fried poultry gold, and the caramelized waffles were soft and dense. The smoked chicken wings, a house special, rivaled their crispy counterparts, and my fries paired flawlessly with the cheddar ale, which smelled and tasted like cheese bread. I washed all the food down with my foamy, honey-laced root beer--straight, no ice, a Southern thing.
As I struggled to breathe after excessive consumption, I realized how much I love gastropubs. There's a quintessential spirit about them that's impossible to replicate--heart-attack-size burgers, old-style wood architecture, and frothy glasses with heads so thick, even marbles wouldn't sink. I love watching sport fans triumphantly stuff 20 nachos in their mouths after a touchdown; I love having at least three TV screens in my frame of vision at all times; I love the smell of grease and beer wafting through the darkly-lit space. And if I were a guy, I'm sure I'd also love the extremely friendly and good-looking waiters.
And Public House is one great gastropub. Located right on State Street, it's ideal for people-watching, al-fresco dining, and general Chicago-admiring. In fact, I've already planned my order for the next time I'm there: the smoked Kobe beef brisket dip and some good ol' fried cheese curds. No takeout box needed.