Monday, December 8, 2008

More on the Publican

Posted By on 12.08.08 at 11:50 AM

After I turned in my review of the Publican but before it hit the streets, I got a series of urgent-sounding e-mails from first the restaurant's publicist and then its beer guy, Michael McAvena. Both wanted to get the word out that the beer pricing was being revised, apparently anticipating my observation that it seemed a little steep--a point I wasn't alone in making.

"We have made some adjustments to lower the prices of the draft and bottles selections," McAvena wrote. "Over the next couple of weeks we will continue to drop additional draft and bottle prices. As we continue to develop relationships with our vendors, it will allow us to lower our beverage costs, in order to provide our guests with more approachable pricing."

While it might seem a little strange that the owners of Sonotheque and the Violet Hour would need time to develop relationships with beer vendors, I'll buy it, given the depth and breadth of the list, which is full of stuff not available at the organization's other bars. In a line-by-line comparison of the list I picked up last month with the new one McAvena sentI noted mostly changes to the pricing of domestic bottles, seven of which have been knocked down a buck from $6 to $5. Also, a 16.9 oz bottle of Fuller's Vintage Ale now runs $18 instead of $20.

The draft list has changed significantly, but the two holdovers--Goose Island's Matilda and a French cider--remain at $7 and $10, respectively. The new stuff on tap ranges from a $5 German Kolsch to a $10 Liefmans Kriekbier, which does bring the average down a bit--gone is the $14 biere de miel (sad, as that was really tasty).

Everything else, including all the Belgians, remains the same. A 12-ounce Orval Trappist Ale that goes for $10 at the Hopleaf is $12 at the Publican; a 750-ml bottle of Lindemans Gueuze Cuvee Rene runs $25 at the Publican but $18 up in Andersonville.

I wrote to McAvena last week asking for some more information about what else he was hoping to change but haven't heard back yet. If I do, I'll report back.

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