Publican Anker—the spinoff of One Off Hospitality’s popular Fulton Market restaurant—has been open since the end of November. Wicker Park instantly felt its impact as a bustle of activity returned to the prominent storefront that Francesca’s Forno vacated in October 2015. So what’s the early buzz on Paul Kahan’s latest effort? Read on.
The burger: Anker’s Pub Burger has been the subject of much happiness this winter. Several say it’s a contender for best in Chicago. Yelper Michael D. put it bluntly: “I'm saying this now: the Pub Burger is an Au Cheval killer. The patty was crispy fried on the outside and perfectly cooked medium on the inside. The special sauce was also delicious, just slightly spicy.”
Beyond burgers: It would be a slight to focus solely on Anker’s burger. Many users singled out the fried eggplant with halloumi and honey. Sparrow Coffee—presumably Chris Chacko—went all in, and summed up the effort as “pub food Publican style, top quality ingredients.”
Standout dishes in order at Anker: Green Chili Fish Stew, Crispy Eggplant & the Trout. Pub food Publican style, top quality ingredients.— Sparrow Coffee (@SparrowCoffee) December 12, 2016
The chicken wings also captured the attention of many diners. However, not everyone loved everything. Take AJ Weinberg via Foursquare: “eggplant, wings, trout are all winners, skip the fries they taste like fries”
The service: In a sea of glowing reviews, only a handful, including Facebook user Mary Reid, were negative. She felt some items were overpriced and that the staff was too cool for school: “Disappointing! The bartenders were disengaged. They charge $15 for a 4 ounce glass of wine.” Yelper Lexie V. noted that “the service definitely is improving each time we have been—new opening kinks.” Adjustments are part of the process. The infamous Kenny Z. tweeted his disappointment on how Anker’s already changed.: “Like a dagger through my heart. Anker has switched to a limited ‘snacks only’ menu from 330-530 ala Publican. First week was a cruel tease.”
The neighborhood: One Off Hospitality, Publican’s parent company, now owns four restaurants (Big Star, Dove’s Luncheonette, Violet Hour) along a small stretch of Damen in Wicker Park. Customers are clinging to their presence as an oasis in an allegedly bro-infested part of the city. Comedian Scott Goldstein is still happy for Anker, especially during frigid temperatures.