The more we learn about Publican Quality Meats, the more there is to Publican Quality Meats. When it was announced as a butcher shop, we saw Kahan, Madia et al. jumping on a trend. Then we attended a panel including Kahan at Family Farmed Expo last year, and learned that Kahan's vision went much deeper than that— the problem for Chicago restaurants who want to buy meat from the better suppliers (those names you see on menus like Dietzler, Slagel, etc.) is that so many of them are close to being tapped out in terms of capacity; they can't sell more artisanal beef without becoming the industrial-sized operations they're in opposition to. So Kahan's intention with Publican Quality Meats, in part, was to create a market outlet whose size and influence would encourage new farmers to enter the better-meat world alongside those names, confident that they would have an outlet in Chicago.
But that's what Publican Quality Meats is behind the scenes. This week's announcement has to do with what it is up front— and up front, it's proving to be more of a restaurant than initial announcements quite conveyed. From that angle it's the Publican's lunch spinoff, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closing up right as the main restaurant kicks into gear. A 50-seat restaurant, Publican Quality Meats will serve sandwiches from the in-house cured meats, baked goods from an in-house bakery, and both coffee from a coffee bar and draft beer on tap. We suspect the business of butchering will be somewhat less visible from this dining area than at The Butcher & Larder, where it's gleefully on display, but lest you forget where your meat comes from, go to the restroom and you'll pass by the glass-doored walk-in where 4,000 pounds of meat will be hanging or curing. (Kudos for the first press release to ever make a selling point of the view on your way to the restroom.) Opening date is still pending construction and inspections, especially assuming that walk-in will be fully HACCP-compliant for curing meats, but is expected to be mid-February. We can't wait.