Monday, April 23, 2012

Steer and Beer at Publican Quality Meats

I realized last night that I have been posting a lot about places we’ve been eating and not things I’ve been cooking. Today’s post is about the eating part, however it’s a big week cooking wise, so I plan on posting three more recipes by the end of the week.

Today however, is to share the love child of Publican Quality Meats and 3 Floyds Brewery: Ode to Steer and Beer. Publican Quality Meats, the newest member of the Paul Kahan Meat Empire (Avec, Blackbird, The Publican, Big Star) is a butcher shop/charcuterie heaven right next to The Publican. They currently make all of the charcuterie, cure all of the meats (100 day dry aged beef) for The Publican and hopefully soon, the rest of the Meat Empire.

We had heard about the dinner, but tickets were snatched up rather quickly. So it was a very exciting on Friday when The Husband send me the following gChat:

Public Quality Meats
ask for Sarah
3 Floyds Dinner
they can do Sunday or Monday night (as can we)

And so I called. It appears that some people cancelled, silly, silly people, and we got the last two seats for their Sunday night dinner. The menu wasn’t announced, we just knew it would be meat and beer. Obviously there is nothing wrong with either of those two things, so we got excited.

The dinner started at 7, we walked in and were immediately asked our choice of Jinx Proof, a Dortmunder with a little bit of citrus and a little bit of hops or Ham on Rye, a smoked beer that smells like a ham sandwich.  As I am not a ham sandwich lover, I went with the Jinx Proof as did The Husband. We sat and chatting with some people before going for round two (another Jinx Proof for me, a Ham and Rye for him) and then digging into the charcuterie platters in front of us: Corned Beef Hearts, Beef Salami and a Beef Pate. Honestly, they were all spectacular. For those who read beef hearts and got a little sad, I can assure you they were delicious. Probably the best Corned Beef I have ever had. Everyone loves good salami sprinkled with fresh goat cheese, and this was not one to let you down and the Beef Pate came out in huge half inch think half circles with homemade loose mustard. I have to say, the Ham on Rye paired REALLY well with the meats. We munched and chatted and then got invited downstairs for the tour.

We were ushered down, six at a time into the meat room, it smelled like meat heaven. About a hundred sausages they had smoked that morning hung from the ceiling, a half of a pig hung from hooks, dry aging, an eight foot high by four foot wide rack was dry aging meats (the pictures are below). They spoke to us about the different types of cows they used, either corn fed (generally from Slagel Family Farms) that they aged upwards of 100 days. We also learned that if you go to The Publican with a party of 10 people, you can walk across the street into this glorious room and select the slab that you and your friends would like to eat from. We were taught about the grass fed Belgian Blues, they were a cross breed of dairy cow and dinner cow that are able to convert the sugar of the grass into fat. Therefore they look like a corn fed cow, but taste like a grass fed one (an apparently can fool people who have grown up on farms). They showed us the magical door that leads to their charcuterie aging room and after about 20 minutes of being in the chilly and amazing meat room, we were toured around their kitchen. The bakers come in at 4am to start the bread and leave at 3am when they’re finished (they work in shifts!). The bread there is amazing and worth it.  We’ve had the ability to spend some time in various kitchens throughout Chicago and both The Husband and I thought this was the most laid back and fun group. The Husband started speaking with one of the chefs and he said that he could work in any kitchen in Chicago, but if he was going to spend 15 hours a day some place, he wanted to make sure that he was having fun doing it. And so that was why he was there, he had fun. And I can tell you (when you read on, you’ll see what I mean) that they totally have a blast down there.

So after our tour, we were escorted back upstairs, offered another round of drinks, more charcuterie and sat down at our table. They came around and began pouring the Rabid Rabbit Saison, a light French farmhouse ale. I love a good Saison, so I was a happy camper. It was a cloudy golden color, a big head and had a sweet start and turned just a little malty. It paired really well with the ginormous plate of grilled Short Ribs that were placed in front of us. All of dinner was served family style and there were roughly four tables of eight people each. So each table got two heaping places of short ribs.  I wish I could have taken a picture of the plate, it was seriously huge. The long ribbons (about a foot and a half long and maybe three inches wide) of grilled short ribs were smattered with pieced of grilled squid. The squid tasted like soft salty pieces of phenomenally cooked steak. The Short Ribs had a fair amount of fat on them (as short rubs generally do), but even the fat was amazing. It was soft (not grizzle-y) and The Husband’s response to my comment of “Oh, I have a fair amount of fat on this piece, can I get one with more meat” was “This is fat you should eat”. We were seated next to a couple who immediately responded “That will be the only time I hear a doctor say that. I will follow his advice gleefully.” And we all did. The Short Ribs were served with delicious Asparagus with Feta and Fresh English Peas. The bitter of the Asparagus cut the fat of the Ribs; a really wonderful second course.

After another round of beer (we’re up to 5 at this point…our new friends went and grabbed us another round during the Short Rib happiness) the third course and our next round of beer came.  The Hells Black Intelligencer, oatmeal stout brewed with Intelligensia coffee was delicious. It smells like coffee, it’s dark black but it wasn’t super thick (I’m not a huge fan of thick heavy stouts). This was paired with our comparison plate. Four huge plates (two of each type) of steak were brought out. Grilled to a perfect medium rare, were the Belgian Blue (grass fed) served with grilled ramps and the Slagel Farm (corn fed) served with radishes. I actually really enjoy grass fed beef, most people find it doesn’t taste like meat. But that’s because we’re so used to eating corn fed beef. Grass fed are generally leaner because the cows don’t convert the grass into fat and people really like the marbling and the fat of the corn fed. However the Blues (if you were paying attention waaay up at the top) do! While both were really amazingly delicious, I enjoyed the Slagel just a little bit more. The Husband on the other hand enjoyed the Blue. The bonus is, PQM has both, so we can wander over and get another steak of each.  This course was served with grilled spring onions in an amazing Romesco sauce (almonds, roasted garlic, red bell peppers and tomatoes pureed) .

The final round was a Pecan Short Bread over a Buttermilk Ice Cream with Carmel Sauce served with the Mushy P. English Porter. The Porter was a little heavy a bitter for me (a big espresso taste), but it paired well with the dessert. The Buttermilk Ice Cream was delicious, a little bit of that buttermilk tartness, but the sweetness of the caramel and the perfect Shortbread really balanced everything out.  It was a really delicious and light dessert.

When we had finished, we stayed and chatted with our new friends for a while and eventually after some joking with the front of house staff and the 3 Floyds rep (apparently some people got to take Whisky shots with the chefs) they brought us a bottle of Old Granddad’s Whiskey and told us to enjoy; which The Husband and our new friends did, right from the bottle. I told you earlier that the kitchen seemed to have a lot of fun and here is where I tell you about the prefect ending to the night. Before we left, I ran down to the restroom, which is near the kitchens. As I was washing my hands, Annie Lenox’s Walking on Broken Glass came on, and the one of the chefs started strutting through the kitchen. After a few beers and being in good spirits, I cheered him on and we (me, the baker, the chef and his two sous)  immediately broke out into a dance party in the kitchen.  We were boogying down for the entire song. There were shimmies, there were high fives, there was cheering. That moment alone was worth the cost of the dinner. The Husband caught the tail end of the shenanigans and we walked out laughing hysterically.

Obviously the food and beverages were delicious enough to make us go back to another beer dinner (they are working on having one a month) but the awesomesness of the staff just threw it over the edge. 

Beef Count: A whole lot...6 different types

Alcohol Count: 8-9 beers each plus the three whisky shots (I did not do, The Husband did) taken at the end of the night.

Happiness Count: SUPER HIGH

The Meat Room
Close up of the dry aged beef

Not the dinners focus, but still, yumm

What a way to start


  1. I liked the posts and cool layout you have here! I would like to thank you for sharing your experience and the time it took to post!! Two Thumbs up!

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    1. Andrew, thank you so much! I really appreciate your kinds words.

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