To start the weekend’s dining, I terrific meal at The Publican, which wears a Bib Gourmand distinction from Michelin – very good food and good prices. In fairness, The Publican would have likely been on my list anyway, having been highly recommended by friends and family and having seen it on more than one of the food and travel shows. Fresh, flavorful apricots highlighted a salad to start with burrata and a very appropriate supporting cast that included crisp greens, which proved to be perfect feeling warm after the walk from the hotel and also to preface my entrée of crisp veal sweetbreads. Maybe sweetbread is a better description as it was a single large piece battered and fried, “like a schnitzel” according my very good waitress. In a seemingly odd and busy sauce that combined a bagna cauda-inspired sauce and that used for veal tonnato, it was quite complementary to the meat / gland with the prominent flavor of anchovy somewhat masking the nickel-taste of the sweetbreads. I was very happy. Actually, I was happy soon after receiving my first drink, a half-liter of draft Andechser Weissbier Hell, a Bavarian hefe-weizen from the famed monastic brewery near Munich that is fairly rare in this country. It was fresh and absolutely terrific, and among the very best hefe-weizens you can find; in the league with the redoubtable Ayinger Brau-Weisse. There were more drinks and some more food, including a complimentary dessert and a very enjoyable meal in a bustling, fun setting. I am not sure how it received a Bib Gourmand citation, though. The food prices were fair and even low for some of the proteins, but the beers – something in which the aptly named Publican specializes – were very high. The wines are slightly expensive and without much of selection or seemingly that well selected. Minor quibbles.
The Publican was followed digestifs in the form of mescal at Rick Bayless’s’ Leña Brava. The next morning Roister from the Alinea group impressed me as very deserving of its Michelin even just for a breakfast dish, a not-so-Southern take on biscuits and gravy. As enjoyable as that was, the michelada I had to accompany it was easily the best michelada I have ever had, spicy courtesy of Japanese peppers but balanced and quite flavorful. Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat Diner served an even better breakfast the next morning, This Little Piggy Went to China. This was sesame cheddar biscuit in a couple of halves, on one rested a Sichuan-scented pork sausage then sunny-side up eggs with a chili garlic chive sauce. And chives scattered about with about ten blackberries. Both Chinese or Sichuan and American at the same time, for breakfast. Everything was good in itself and complementary like the blackberries whose slight sweetness made a welcome pair to the piquant sauce and sausage, especially later in the dish. All good.
It was a good trip, in a terrific neighborhood for dining and imbibing, and helped by Michelin.