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#1
Posted March 5th 2012, 1:05am
An ongoing thread over in Shopping & Cooking deals mostly with the impressive retail charcuterie and fresh meats available at Paul Kahan's new West Loop meat boutique. It might already be too late but it seems reasonable to start a new thread over here to discuss the dining options at Publican Quality Meats, located on Fulton Market right across Green Street from the Publican.

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The focus of the shop is a bank of three large display coolers holding some of the most beautiful sausages and cuts of meat imaginable. Shelves along the windows hold a small but well-curated selection of packaged goods. Several long communal tables share the back of the store with cases containing items such as stocks (including pork belly stock and bacon stock).

I went twice during their first week so keep in mind things may have changed already. The menu is simple and appealing: ribollita, cocido and six sandwiches. Wines and a couple draft beers are available. The sandwich menu:

    Better Than a Gyro ($9) Braised pork belly on flatbread with orange spice vin, escalivada, raita, mint, red onions and pea shoots.
    Tuna Muffaletta ($12) Poached albacore tune on tomato focaccia with tomato sauce, olive salad, shaved Brussels sprouts and soft boiled eggs.
    Train to Tuscany ($9.50) Toscano salami on focaccia with ricotta, puntarella, honey and moscatel vinegar.
    Turkey Sandwich ($9.50) Smoked turkey on whole wheat with avocado, lime red onions, piri piri sauce, puntarella and capers.
    Mortadella Sandwich ($7.50) Mortadella on griddled rye with peach mostarda, chopped liver, arugula and marinated onions.
    Lamb Meatball Sandwich ($8) Lamb meatballs on a "Franks 'n' Dawgs" lobster roll with bravas sauce, Shepherd's Hope cheese, cabbage and mint.

Ribollita ($5) was flat-out great, with perfectly cooked cannellini beans and kale in a pancetta-enriched broth thickened with torn up bread.

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Plus some good olive oil, actually a lot of good olive oil. One of the best uses of five bucks I can think of especially in this chilly weather. Cocido has gotten an enthusiastic thumbs up as well. Eat PQM cocido is high on my to-do list.

I liked both sandwiches I tried but didn't love them. Ingredients are first-rate but the balance seemed slightly off (it could be that minor tweaks have already occurred). Housemade mortadella with chopped liver sounds like it could be a magical combination but somehow it didn't quite come together for me.

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I loved the crispy fried mortadella but the liver paste only seemed to increase the heaviness of the sandwich. Arugula and onions helped but I didn't love the sweet mostarda (mostly a personal preference as I rarely enjoy much sweet with my meat). The excellent toasted rye seemed to dominate, not a terrible thing with such good bread, but I think the sandwich might benefit from slightly thinner slices. Maybe a zippier mostarda? Maybe more heavily marinated onions? I'm not sure. The sandwich is better than the vast majority in Chicago but with a little fiddling it could go a step beyond that.

I had similar feelings about the gyro: very good as-is but within easy striking distance of greatness.

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The pork belly, one of Kahan's true and everlasting loves, came torn into rather lean but flavorful shreds. A most excellent sandwich stuffing. The veggies and dressings really enhanced the meat (I was happy that the mint didn't dominate) and the freshly made flatbread was terrific. But again I thought the balance was slightly off: another instance of too much bread. I managed a few bites with a higher filling-to-bread ratio and was much happier with those. I found myself wishing the flatbread was a bit thinner or perhaps ovoid in shape to avoid so much overlap (or simply that the fillings were slightly more abundant).

These early stops at Publican Quality Meats reminded me of a similar early visit to the Publican. I enjoyed most of the food but wasn't quite as wowed as I expected. Kahan and his crew, who certainly know what the hell they're doing, tweaked the food and brought it to another level. I expect the same will happen (or has already occurred) with the sandwiches at Publican Quality Meats. I was probably much more negative above than I should have been but these guys have previously set a very high standard for themselves. Publican Quality Meats is already an incredible resource for Chicago and I can hardly wait to try more sandwiches as well as that cocido.

Publican Quality Meats
825 W Fulton Market
Chicago
312-445-8977
http://publicanqualitymeats.com/ (minimal content presently)
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#2
Posted March 5th 2012, 1:23am
Rene G wrote:An ongoing thread over in Shopping & Cooking deals mostly with the impressive retail charcuterie and fresh meats available at Paul Kahan's new West Loop meat boutique. It might already be too late but it seems reasonable to start a new thread over here to discuss the dining options at Publican Quality Meats, located on Fulton Market right across Green Street from the Publican.

It is and I'm really glad that you did. Thanks. An earlier one was prematurely merged into the S&C thread. :oops:

Rene G wrote:
    Better Than a Gyro ($9) Braised pork belly on flatbread with orange spice vin, escalivada, raita, mint, red onions and pea shoots.
    Tuna Muffaletta ($12) Poached albacore tune on tomato focaccia with tomato sauce, olive salad, shaved Brussels sprouts and soft boiled eggs.
    Train to Tuscany ($9.50) Toscano salami on focaccia with ricotta, puntarella, honey and moscatel vinegar.
    Turkey Sandwich ($9.50) Smoked turkey on whole wheat with avocado, lime red onions, piri piri sauce, puntarella and capers.
    Mortadella Sandwich ($7.50) Mortadella on griddled rye with peach mostarda, chopped liver, arugula and marinated onions.
    Lamb Meatball Sandwich ($8) Lamb meatballs on a "Franks 'n' Dawgs" lobster roll with bravas sauce, Shepherd's Hope cheese, cabbage and mint.

This looks absolutely stunning on paper (or monitor).

Rene G wrote:Ribollita ($5) was flat-out great, with perfectly cooked cannellini beans and kale in a pancetta-enriched broth thickened with torn up bread.

snip

Plus some good olive oil, actually a lot of good olive oil. One of the best uses of five bucks I can think of especially in this chilly weather. Cocido has gotten an enthusiastic thumbs up as well. Eat PQM cocido is high on my to-do list.

Once I arrived, I was very sorry I'd already eaten and your pics aren't doing anything to change that.

Rene G wrote:I liked both sandwiches I tried but didn't love them. Ingredients are first-rate but the balance seemed slightly off (it could be that minor tweaks have already occurred). Housemade mortadella with chopped liver sounds like it could be a magical combination but somehow it didn't quite come together for me.

As I posted above, the sandwich menu looks great, so it's disappointing to read that they fell a bit short. I guess time will tell if it's a matter of personal taste or untweaked, early incarnations.

Rene G wrote:These early stops at Publican Quality Meats reminded me of a similar early visit to the Publican. I enjoyed most of the food but wasn't quite as wowed as I expected. Kahan and his crew, who certainly know what the hell they're doing, tweaked the food and brought it to another level. I expect the same will happen (or has already occurred) with the sandwiches at Publican Quality Meats. I was probably much more negative above than I should have been but these guys have previously set a very high standard for themselves. Publican Quality Meats is already an incredible resource for Chicago and I can hardly wait to try more sandwiches as well as that cocido.

I hope and expect that you are right with this hunch.

Thanks again, for the detailed report.

=R=
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"When you’re young, it’s all fillet steak. But as you get older, you have to move onto the cheaper cuts..." --M. Gustave

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#3
Posted March 5th 2012, 8:25am
I've been twice already and find it a really great sandwich option. I was also impressed that despite the imposing lines and relative chaos, service was friendly, fast and surprisingly efficient. I had the "gyro," which I really liked, and the lamb meatball, which was equally tasty. Also liked the window shopping, watching huge hunks of meat getting carried in and out, and the fishbowl-like glass-windowed kitchen you see on the way down to the bathroom.

Anyway, once I figure out the rhythm of the place (and figure out the weird clientele, a mix of hipsters, yuppies, and business dudes who look like they're just biding time between cigars), I plan to be back regularly. The perfect place to pick up a few things during lunch, or eat a nice lunch while picking up a few things. One warning is that parking can be really tough, since the neighborhood is swarming with double-parked trucks and people actually, you know, working.
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#4
Posted March 5th 2012, 9:47am
I was there on Friday and I think they switched out the mortadella for prosciutto cotto and they are calling it "Ham on Rye". I really enjoyed that sandwich but only had half of it since I also ordered the ribollita.

PQM is a welcome addition to our lunch rotation, since the Halsted bus is stopping in front of my office building and deposits us on Halsted a block away! It is going to suck with the route goes back to normal in April. Until then, I have a feeling I will be at PQM a lot!
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#5
Posted March 5th 2012, 10:06am
I tried the Tuna Muffaletta last week and really enjoyed it. A far cry from any tuna salad sandwich I've had recently (or ever). The quality of the tuna was really stellar, and it didn't get dried out, despite the fact that it sits on the top of the counter (you can see it on the cutting board in the picture). They use very little mayo, which is definitely the way I like it. The olive salad is SPICY, which I also love and the homemade focaccia was delicious.
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#6
Posted March 5th 2012, 1:48pm
Vitesse98 wrote:One warning is that parking can be really tough, since the neighborhood is swarming with double-parked trucks and people actually, you know, working.


There is a loading zone right in front that fits about 3 cars. I put my flashers on and went it. I was little worried, but one of the servers caught me constantly checking and confirmed that you can park there with your flashers on for quick visits.


Lancelac wrote:I tried the Tuna Muffaletta last week and really enjoyed it. A far cry from any tuna salad sandwich I've had recently (or ever). The quality of the tuna was really stellar, and it didn't get dried out, despite the fact that it sits on the top of the counter (you can see it on the cutting board in the picture). They use very little mayo, which is definitely the way I like it. The olive salad is SPICY, which I also love and the homemade focaccia was delicious.


i was starving and ate this while parked in the car, but i concur - it was delicious and one of the best tuna salad sandwiches I've ever had. the oil poaching really left the tuna with a wonderful, perfectly cooked texture, and i loved the spicy olive/giardiniera kick. however, i won't ever eat this in the car again - it was a mess. this sandwich is meant to be eaten seated at a table with ample access to napkins.
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#7
Posted March 5th 2012, 2:04pm
I have to visit now if for no other reason than to sample that Ribollita - Rene G's pictures make me want to have a bowl of that in front of me rightnow!
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#8
Posted March 7th 2012, 1:54pm
I just visited PQM and finished scarfing down my lamb meatball sandwich, and can only echo what's already been said - this is place is so cool! While waiting for my to-go sandwich, I walked around & mentally took stock of all the interesting and unique stuff they sell there, for future reference. Seeing all those pristine-looking meats and hard-to-find ingredients had me planning all kinds of future meals.

This neighborhood has turned into a dangerous place to work - there are suddenly so many fantastic lunch options that I could see myself going broke in short order.
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#9
Posted March 8th 2012, 4:40pm
I just introduced 3 of my coworkers to lunch at PQM and all 3 were blown away.

Better Than a Gyro may be just a bit of an overstatement in name, but it really is excellent. The rich and satisfying braised pork belly and the soft, buttery, fresh flatbread are the stars, but and the spicing and yogurt sauce allow this sandwich to cleverly mimic the classic that they emulate.

I never considered ordering the Turkey Sandwich, but after seeing the one delivered to our table today, I just might. House smoked turkey, thick-sliced house-made whole wheat bread, avocado, lime pickled onions, sprouts, and capers, made sloppy with a generous application of piri piri sauce. My friend said that the capers made the sandwich. It looked great and I wanted a bite.

The Ham on Rye and Lamb Meatball Sandwich have been described above. I wanted a bite of each of these too.

The Ribollita is one of the best bowls of soup I've ever had.

While waiting for a table, I tried a few deli meats that are new in the case. PQM is now selling their own 'Nduja, and it is a nice, if tame, version. The spreadable sausage paste has a nice hit of fermented funkiness, but just a little tingle of heat. Apparently, they switched from using Calabrian hot peppers using gojujang in this batch for color and spice. The flavor is very good, but I found the heat to be just a little toned down for a proper 'nduja. Another new meat in the case is Blood Mortadella. Wait, what? Yep, blood mortadella. I inquired and was told that it is a traditional mortadella recipe with beef blood used in place of the water that would typically be used in the emulsification process. The blood gives the whole chub a deep maroon color and adds a little extra richness and depth to the typically mild mortadella flavor.

I really, really like this place. A lot.

--Rich
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#10
Posted March 8th 2012, 5:08pm
RAB wrote: Blood Mortadella


This is easily the greatest thing I've read today.
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#11
Posted March 8th 2012, 6:43pm
Publican Quality Meats is carnivore Disneyland. Surprised, delighted, first impression so overwhelmingly positive I fear I giggled a bit. Didn't make it 2-feet before I was offered a sample, never made it past the first counter in the ten minutes I waited for my friend for lunch. (I was purposefully early so I could check PQM out.

Chef Erling was kind enough to give us a downstairs tour, Willy Wonka came to mind, but Willy doesn't have glowing with health* 260-lb pigs, aging duck, sausage curing and bread rising. Willy's loss.

Publican Quality Meats, count me a fan!

*aside from the fact it was dead
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#12
Posted March 10th 2012, 9:18am
Are they serving the charcuterie/terrines/etc to be eaten in house on a plate or board or is it all intended to be taken home?
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#13
Posted March 10th 2012, 5:35pm
uhockey wrote:Are they serving the charcuterie/terrines/etc to be eaten in house on a plate or board or is it all intended to be taken home?
I don't know whether you can select charcuterie for dining in, but they do have various sizes of sampler platters.

I stopped by today around 1pm, and although there were crowds, the wait for a table was under 20 minutes, and food was delivered five minutes later. Not bad for Saturday lunch.

Based on the reviews above, I tried the ribollita. Wow, that's a good soup and a steal at $5. It's easily enough for a light meal, but how could I order just that? I also enjoyed the lamb meatball sandwich. I wasn't sure how much I liked it after the first bite, but it quickly grew on me, and by the end, I was quite happy. Still, the winner was the ribollita.

As with my first visit a few weeks back, the staff was managing the crowds well, and generally being helpful.

Ronna
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#14
Posted March 17th 2012, 12:03am
A few days ago, I met up with RAB and stevez for lunch at PQM. I intentionally arrived early -- cooler in tow -- so I could do a little shopping before we ate.

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PQM
Just like a mullet...business up front and a party (of sorts) in the back. :wink:


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Dry Goods


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Meatporium


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Meatporium
House-baked breads below.


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Meatporium


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Meatporium


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Meat & Cheeseporium

I ended up buying some Red Waddle Pork Porterhouses (the provenance of which I do not remember), blood mortadella, toulouse sausage, chicken-curry-ground gizzard sausage and one other type of raw sausage. I cooked them all (except for the mortadella) the next night over lump charcoal on my Weber kettle, and my family really enjoyed them. The pork was juicy and had a beautiful layer of tasty fat on the exterior. Across the board, the sausages were well-made. The definition was perfect on all of them. Flavors were very nice, too. Sausage-making is top-notch here. I've now had 10 different ones and there hasn't been a bad one in the bunch.

The worst thing about PQM is that there's just too much great-looking stuff and it's hard to decide what to buy and order. Here are a few items that didn't make the cut this time around . . .

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Tuna Muffaletta
Next time for sure.


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Duck Confit


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Beef heart, Captain?

The main purpose of this trek, though, was lunch . . .

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Menu


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Menu

The 3 of us split 4 items . . .

Lunch:
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Ribolitta
This was astonishingly good. Really, one of the best things I've eaten in a long time. I loved the pungent aroma of the cheese, the mix of satisfying textures and the depth and richness of the varying flavors in this bowl. Sensational.


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Nduja Sandwich
I liked this but wished the nduja had a bit more punch. For my palate, I also thought the salad mixture on top of the sandwich was dressed a bit too acidicly.


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Better Than a Gyros
I thought this sandwich was great. As advertised, the flavors were like a gyros, only better :lol: and the pork was tender and unctuous.


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Veggie Accompaniment for Cocido
Roasted carrots and cabbage, fresh herbs and pickled peppers.


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Cocido
This delicious and hearty dish had quite a presence attack. I loved the short rib and the blood sausage, which both absorbed and then delivered quite a bit of the flavorful broth. The chorizo, I thought, was a tad less successful because it lost a bit of its textural splendor soaking in the broth. Its tighter definition kind of prevented it from picking up the broth the way the other meats did.


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Cocido
My bowl.

This was a great lunch. PQM is a phenomenal concept, being executed -- even at this early stage -- at a very high level. There's nothing else like it in Chicago and I believe we are more than ready for it. In fact, I feel lucky to have it here. In a sense, the proprietors are taking a chance on Chicago by laying this down and I hope their risk and faith pay off for them in a major way. Forward-thinking businesses like this are such a pleasure to patronize. I tend to overuse this term but I consider PQM to be an important shop.

I managed to make it there in just over 20 minutes from my office in Niles, so who knows? Maybe it is going to be a regular spot for lunch. There'll be a lot of days when I'm either eating at PQM or wishing I were.

=R=
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"When you’re young, it’s all fillet steak. But as you get older, you have to move onto the cheaper cuts..." --M. Gustave

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#15
Posted March 18th 2012, 5:45pm
Thank you very much for the photos, Ronnie! PQM has been added to our shopping rotation. We've only had lunch there once so far, but will definitely be back! SOON!
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#16
Posted March 22nd 2012, 6:52pm
Super friendly folks, great service, and yes - you can get an assortment of charcuterie to eat in.

They also have Publican's Lucifer Blend from Intelligentsia and Pure Black from La Colombe for sale - huge plusses in my book.
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#17
Posted March 24th 2012, 12:30pm
I like that they're varying sides, which are substantial and included with the sandwich prices, at least for now - My Better Than a Gyros came with a delicious slaw, a nduja sandwich had the orange and feta salad, and a turkey sandwich came with the very good chips. Lunch seating currently requires finding a hostess with blue number circles on entry, ordering across the counter (no single line), paying up, and then finding the hostess again to be seated communally. It's not a smooth choreography in the space, but the wait has not been bad, and the sandwiches (and much-lauded, good olive oil-saturated ribollita) are worth it. I enjoyed the kitchen towel napkins, water dispenser, and hefty flatware, touches that resonate with the original across the street.

The BTAG may indeed be an improvement on the original - spices, meat, and vegetables are distinct and each savorable, strongly flavored but not garlicky or heavy.
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#18
Posted March 24th 2012, 1:30pm
Interesting about the sides...We ordered 4 sandwiches to share amongst 4 of us which they knew because we asked the to cut them for us but all came with a ton if chips. They were very good but some variety would've been even better. Yet another reason to go back...
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#19
Posted March 25th 2012, 4:10pm
I had the Better Than a Gyro on Friday. The pork was juicy and tender but, I too wished that the filling had been more substantial; I was still hungry when I finished and that generally doesn't happen with gyros. The slaw side (at least I think it was slaw) was nice in small doses, but I'm just not a fan of feta. The chips were impeccably done and very crisp, but also some of the more tasteless ones I've ever had.

I'll definitely be back, probably to try the Ham on Rye, but I expected a bit more.
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#20
Posted March 26th 2012, 6:08pm
cccpr wrote:I had the Better Than a Gyro on Friday. The pork was juicy and tender but, I too wished that the filling had been more substantial; I was still hungry when I finished and that generally doesn't happen with gyros.


I second that, I thought it was excellent but it could use some more meat. I know your paying for quality and not quantity but it still could use some more. The naan pita is absolute perfection.
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#21
Posted April 17th 2012, 1:28pm
I just had the n'duja sandwich for the first time and am a huge fan. I love spice, and was a bit nervous that it would be way too mild based on other posts here, but found it to be just right. The toasted focaccia had some crunch to it and the salad on top had some nice acidity to offset the n'duja. I'd easily put this among my favorite sandwiches for the year and strongly recommend giving it a try. My only complaint for the lunch was the potato salad side which was bland.
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#22
Posted April 19th 2012, 1:26pm
Count me in as a fan of PQM! My office is about a 5 minute walk away, so imagine my happiness when this place opened up. I've only done takeout here, but they've been pretty quick getting you in and out. They haven't been great about updating their menu on the website, so when I tried to call in an order, the sandwich I wanted wasn't available. But the person on the phone was really nice and patiently told me about the sandwiches they had available. Judging by the noise in the background, it sounded busy, so I was grateful that she took the time to talk with me. Also, if you plan on taking out, the only side they offer is the potato salad, which is a creamless version with mustard seeds.

I've had several sandwiches and my overall impression is that they're really heavy, really oily, and true to the style of the Publican restaurant. I've had the n'duja salami spread sandwich. I was very impressed with the portion size, but I felt that the salad and dressing on top was so acidic and strong that it masked the flavor of the spread. I've also had the beef meatball sandwich, which comes in a roll like a Boston hotdog. It was smaller than I expected and it left me a little hungry after, but it was tasty. I also had the roast beef, which was less oily and more true to a deli type of sandwich. The meat was excellently prepared, very tender, sliced thin, and had no trace of the annoying fatty pieces that are hard to chew.

I also purchased some of the charcuterie out of the case. The rillette is the same as what they serve at the restaurant - meaty and sitting in solid fat confit style. The chicken liver pate was almost fruity tasting. The blood curry headcheese was funky and comes expertly sliced thin. I've come here often enough that I now get recognized by one of the very nice staff members Xavier. It's really nice being greeted by name.

Totally looking forward to trying the ribbollita next!
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#23
Posted May 3rd 2012, 12:47pm
Walked over to PQM today hoping to try this n'duja sandwich (sadly, I've never actually tried n'duja), and was bummed to see it was no longer on the menu board. I asked about it anyway, and was told that it had been replaced by a sopressata sandwich - the gentleman behind the counter said it was pretty awesome, and right he was.

Thick, generous slices of sopressata, shaved asparagus, lightly-dressed frisée, small chunks of parmesan, on grilled ciabatta schmeared with bagna càuda...this is one hell of a sandwich. They must've heard the complaints about the overpowering toppings on the n'duja sandwich, because on the sopressata sandwich, I can definitely taste the slight funk of the meat, with the asparagus, bagna càuda, and light acidity of the dressing on the frisée playing an important but decidedly supporting role.

The sandwich came with a side of creamy, smoked paprika-heavy potato salad that, upon inhaling, I am strongly considering buying by the tub, and an excellent pickle spear. Paired with a sour, funky Vichtenaar Flemish red ale, this was one hell of a lunch.

Score one more for PQM.
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#24
Posted May 3rd 2012, 1:44pm
You could always buy some fresh bread and take home some N'duja to try. Just spread it on and eat! Bought it a couple times from PQM and it's pretty tasty. Although, it's a but milder than N'duja I've had. The stuff I had was from Italy and it was blood red with one hell of a kick. PQM's is good, just wish they made it spicier. Had some left over last weekend and fried it up in some scrambled eggs. Pretty delicious. It breaks up like Mexican Chorizo.
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#25
Posted May 7th 2012, 2:18pm
My only complaint about PQM is that the sopressata used in the sandwich wasn't for sale at the meat counter. I briefly considered crying, but finally decided that taking home a half-pound of Prosciutto instead would have to suffice. That was a damned fine sandwich, though.
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"I've always thought pastrami was the most sensuous of the salted cured meats."
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#26
Posted May 7th 2012, 9:55pm
I was there for the first time saturday. I got a Ham Muffaletta and my dining companion got the pork belly Gyros. The latter was delicious and fine; and while the former tasted fine, the bottom of the foccacia was soggy making the sandwich rather difficult to pick up and eat.
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#27
Posted May 8th 2012, 5:31pm
I had some of the best service of my life here the other day. I was making pizza that night, and the butcher first helped me whittle down my meat selection, then helped me estimate a good quantity for a topping. Even then, as he was slicing he realized I had probably asked for too much, so talked me down to a more modest quantity. I always say the surest sign of good service is someone willing to do the right thing for less, and on that front PQM excelled. Regardless, when I was checking out and was told the amount, I still instinctively took out my credit card, expecting the big hit, but was pleasantly surprised I was only being asked a pittance. I practically did a cartoon double-take, and it was very satisfying to walk out with my little wrapped package of meat, knowing I had paid so little for such excellent service and quality food.
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#28
Posted June 7th 2012, 1:42pm
Just had a long lunch there with a co-worker, and we both concluded that if they had wi-fi, we would just stay there the whole day instead of going back to the office. So I suppose it's probably a good thing that they don't have wi-fi.
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"I've always thought pastrami was the most sensuous of the salted cured meats."
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#29
Posted June 7th 2012, 3:04pm
Didn't see it mentioned anywhere, but in the days leading up to Memorial Day they had several grilling specials. I bought the package with four burgers and four Toulouse sausages for I want to say $20. They were awesome.
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#30
Posted June 7th 2012, 3:51pm
I was there on Sunday and the Grilling Special was 4 burgers, 4 sausages and a whole chicken for $36--pretty good deal I thought!
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"Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
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