Monday, November 7, 2011

Road Trip: The Purple Pig-Chicago

Continuing on our all reservation-free eating binge in Chicago, we hit Purple Pig one day for lunch.  They open at 11:30 for lunch and if you get there right around that time, you shouldn’t have a problem. Well, we didn’t although the outside patio was open as well.  The place does fill up quickly.  I like that it is a good restaurant located right on Michigan Avenue, as it can often be hard to find a good meal in that area—and since so many of the hotels are there, we often find ourselves there.

The theme here is “cheese, swine and wine,” and with a name like purple pig, we knew we had to have some of all of those things. It is also a small plates/sharing kind of place, and we were excited to try lots of things. Hubby instantly declared a need for the fried pig’s ear dish ($8).  The dish was slivers of crispy fried pig’s ear with crispy kale, pickled banana peppers and a lovely sunny side up fried egg on top.  This dish was spectacular.  The pork was crunchy and salty, the peppers vinegary, and the kale added a nice lighter, crunchy kick and slight bitterness.  Of course adding a runny yolky egg on top is only going to make it better.  This was a perfect combination.   This would be an absolute must order if we go back to Purple Pig.
We also had a nice plate of sliced Serrano ham ($8). It was good—not the best I have had and certainly not the worst.  How to describe it other than it is a nice salty cured ham.  I really did enjoy laying slices of it on top of the fried Manchego ($8) that we also got.  Now that was a nice flavor combo.  I liked the way our server described the fried cheese as “swanky cheese sticks” and she was right.  Manchego inherently has more flavor than mozzarella and the insides were really liquidy.  They were served on top of a sweet fruit preserve made from quince.  A bit of the cheese with some quince and then some of the Serrano—well, that was great together.

We also ordered the fried Brussels sprouts ($6).  This was the other really outstanding item we had.  They were the leaves pulled off individually and deep fried (not breaded, just the leaves themselves).  They were light and super crispy and tossed with chili flakes, lemon and thyme.  Wow. Simple, but so so good. And there was just the right amount of lemon to give them the right balance of acid with heat from the chili and every now and then you would get just a hint of the thyme. I would insist on ordering these again as well if we go back and they are on the menu. 
Our least favorite item was the olive oil poached tuna with large white lima beans ($8).  The tuna was cooked through, but was still tender and had the moistness from the olive oil and lots of seasoning from fresh herbs.  The beans, well, I don’t know, large beans like this often tend to just seem bland to me and these were no exception. Actually, the entire dish, especially compared to the others, just seemed bland. It didn’t have the amazing balance of varying flavors that made many of the other things stand out.

I had also read about this dessert that another blogger was talking about, so I really wanted to try it. It was a Nutella Panini ($6).  It was basically a sandwich made with Nutella, marshmallow, and banana.  It was heavily dusted with powdered sugar. I should have known better, but it was way way too sweet for us.  I had a couple bites, but that was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth for quite awhile. Well, at least until dinner.
The Purple Pig
500 N. Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

The Purple Pig on Urbanspoon


  1. Jessica in NoblesvilleNovember 7, 2011 at 10:47 PM


    I visited The Purple Pig while staying in a hotel just off Michigan for a family wedding in September. We also arrived just as they opened for lunch, and sat outside on their patio overlooking the lower street level. The pork fat-fried almonds with garlic were toasty and tasty. We also loved the beets with goat cheese and pork neck gravy with ricotta (imagine a pot roast of pork and marrow, spread on big slabs of grilled bread with ricotta cheese). It was so good! I'd definitely go back if I was in that part of town again.

    Their website is actually

  2. Jessica, those almonds were tempting for sure...

    and thanks for the website correction, all fixed!