Wednesday, April 4, 2012

the purple pig - chicago, il
500 north michigan avenue
chicago, il 60611

having made countless trips to chicago over the last two years with our restaurant adventures well documented here on patlikestoeat, my parents curiosity and interest in our fine dining escapades has been increasing steadily for some time now. after a family trip to the windy city back in october of 2011 with a few of the chicago's mid tier restaurants being visited and thoroughly enjoyed (takashi, frontera grill, avec, north pond), my parents decided they wanted to experience more. after a few conversations, we decided that we would base the trip around dinners at both charlie trotter's and alinea. upon securing reservations for both with relative ease, i was left to decided where we would eat for the three lunches we would have available.

located just off the magnificent mile, the purple pig was our first stop. the restaurant is a collaboration between several chicago area chefs, most notably tony mantuano of spiaggia. with a focus on mediterranean inspired small plates as well cheese and charcuterie, the purple pig is a place i having been looking forward to trying for awhile now.
walking into the restaurant around 3:45 on a wednesday afternoon, our family of four was seated immediately at one end of a communal table in the center of the dining room. seating at the purple pig is mostly communal (whether inside or outside), although there are a few two tops inside as well as a large wrap around bar/chefs counter. while friendly enough, our server did not go over the menu with us at all nor did he explain the small plates dining style to us. luckily i am quite experienced navigating such a menu and any coaching would have been redundant for me, but it did surprise me that nothing was said. the four of us decided to order as couples as we figured trying to share dishes amongst the entire table might be difficult. this proved to be a good strategy, however i believe everyone was able to have a least a single bite of every dish ordered. pictured below are the offerings that carrie and i actually ordered.
for drinks, per my recommendation, the entire family opted to go for the saison dupont from the brewery dupont in belgium. with lots of carbonation and a flavor that is sweet and tart up front with malt on the finish, this farmhouse style brew was perfect with the food.
first up were the salt roasted beets with whipped goat cheese and a pistachio vinaigrette. while the pairing of tany goat cheese and sweet beets is not unusual, this was really elevated by the ample amounts of pistachio.
the table's lone selection from the "fried items" portion of the menu, here we have pig's ear with crispy kale, pickled cherry peppers, and fried egg. served in a pig bowl, this was a nice dish that had a crunch to it from both the kale and ear, spice from the peppers, and was further enhanced by a fried egg which is an ingredient i believe can make almost anything that much better. the pig's ear itself had a flavor reminiscent somewhat of pork rinds.
the first of our three selections from the "al a plancha" portion of the menu to arrive was the pan fried skate wing with beets, winter citrus, and a mint and blood orange balsamico. although maybe a bit overcooked, the ray was tasty with the fruit flavors it was plated with.
lamb saddle milanese, fresh chickpeas, kale and yogurt sauce was brought to the table shortly after the skate, and was another hit. the breaded lamb was full of flavor, and was excellent with the tart yogurt sauce.
for the final savory item of the meal, my favorite dish of the meal arrived in the form of pig's tails braised in balsamic. expecting to see a long curly cue (lol) tail from a single pig, i was surprised when i saw the dish. i assume from the wording "pig's tails" along with the size and shape that the four chunks we were served we actually the base of the tails of four different pigs. regardless, i dug in quickly and was met with bites that were gelatinous (think pork belly) and bites that were as firm as meat from other parts of the pig. both types of meat had a ton of flavor to them and were very rich and delicious. i will most definitely be ordering pig's tails again in the future.
moving on to the sweet stuff, i spotted two items on the menu that sounded amazing, and was able to talk carrie into ordering one of them with the arrangement to switch plates halfway through. the first of the two i tasted was the sicilian iris, which was a ricotta and chocolate chip filled fried brioche ball. served piping hot, this dessert was exactly as expected...completely delicious.
having a hard time surrendering half of the sicilian iris to carrie, i was comforted momentarily by the bread pudding with marsala, citrus, raisins, caramel sauce, and whipped cream. while not on the same level as the ricotta and chocolate stuffed brioche, this too was a strong offering.

while the meal was not quite as successful as those carrie and i have enjoyed at similar restaurants in chicago such as avec and girl and the goat, we really enjoyed everything that we ate, and certainly walked out of the restaurant with smiles. like the two places i mentioned above, the purple pig is the kind of restaurant i would love to have back home in st. louis. while i can't see returning given chicago's vast dining landscape, the purple pig would rate near the top if it was in st. louis, and numerous trips would be made.
The Purple Pig on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Great reviews, lots of useful information!!