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May 29, 2010 08:27 AM

The Purple Pig review and interviews

Hello - if you haven't been to the Purple Pig yet, I recommend you to do so. I had the chance to interview both Jimmy Bannos' (Jr. & Sr.) recently and invite you to read those interviews.

Thank you!

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  1. I went there last night (I am a visiting 'hound from San Francisco, monthly visits to Chicago), and it was pretty good, not spectacular.

    My quick summary is Purple Pig = avec + Publican - beer + wine

    Good, pork-focused menu with lots of interesting small plates. I sampled the following:

    Fava bean, crispy pancetta salad - nice, cool and perfectly cooked beans (sliced flat) - great complement to the unctuous other pork dishes I sampled

    Grilled octopus with farro+kale - nicely grilled tentacles, though not much other flavor on top of the grill flavor. Liked the farro/kale that came with it - it brought a sharper taste to contrast with the octopus (which was nice and fresh)

    Asparagus, jamon serrano, fried duck egg, on toast - nice flavors and combination of textures. The egg was very nice with the combination of asparagus and the jamon, but I wanted it to have something "bright" as a contrast - felt like a squeeze of lemon would have helped cut through the richness of the egg and the jamon. But very nice overall.

    Milk-braised pork shoulder, smashed potatoes and gravy - nice piece of pork, but was a bit one-dimensional in flavor - I wanted it to have some additional spicing or flavor profile in addition to just the porkiness, but that could just be me. It was well prepared and fork tender.

    Overall, if I had to rate Purple Pig, it has similarities in crowding and noise to both avec and Publican, and I'd probably rate the food at about same as Publican, and below avec (which I enjoy for their greater variety and more interesting flavor profiles.

    Would love to hear other reports of Purple Pig, as I wonder if I should have ordered differently?

    3 Replies
    1. re: RichInMV

      I was there the week before last and really enjoyed it! We arrived at 6:30 on a Tuesday night and started with Prosecco while we waited on the patio for about 30 minutes. We were seated at the bar, which is a tight space. The Bannos' guys are making the most of their small space for sure.

      We ordered:
      Arancini with mint, English peas and ricotta. These were tasty and light and I wanted about 50 more of them. I'm a sucker for arancini.

      Prosciutto Bread Balls. These were kind of like a prosciutto meat ball. They were ok, nothing special.

      Fried sardines with lemon vinaigrette and fennel salad with capers, pinenuts and currants. This was delicious! The sardines were perfectly crispy and not heavily breaded. The salad with the perfect fresh compliment to the fish.

      Skewered chicken thighs with tatziki sauce and fried smashed potatoes. The thighs were so tender and cooked to perfection. A little bit of chicken, potato and the sauce was a perfect bite.

      The beets with whipped chevre and pistachio vinaigrette was simple and delightful. I loved it!

      We ordered a bottle of Rose with our food. The bottle that we'd ordered ($32) was out of stock. The bartender suggested a $48 bottle and we split the different at $40. That was pretty nice, I thought. The wine was great and went well with our food.

      We continued to visit and talked with the bartender/server about our dishes. I think that I'm forgetting something. Based on recommendations, we ordered the Sicilian Iris
      {Ricotta & Chocolate Chip filled Fried Brioche} and Affagato {Shot of Espresso over
      Gianduja Soft Serve} for dessert. We'd finished our wine and told the chef we'd be ordered Lemoncello after dessert. The affagato arrived quickly and was great. Chocolate, hazelnut and coffee? How can you go wrong? I thought a nice touch was that they offered to make the espresso decaf. Yes, please.

      We finished the ice cream and waited for the brioche, and waited...and waited some more. The bartender was very observant that we'd been waiting and check on it several times for us and continued to apologize. Shortly, he delivered two glasses of Riesling on the house for us to enjoy when the brioche arrived. The brioche finally arrived and was very tasty indeed and a great choice with the wine. It wasn't too sweet.

      We wrapped up with two Lemoncellos and called it a night. The server was lovely, attentive without hovering. It is a tight space and a little loud, but I tend to like that kind of environment. (I love The Publican, too!)

      After all of that, we were comped the two glasses of wine and the tardy dessert. The bill came to $122 before tax. I thought that was pretty darn good!

      Very tasty, a convivial atmosphere and a cute space. Can't wait to go back. In fact, it might be our late night spot tomorrow night since they're open until 2 a.m.

      710 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60610

      1. re: RichInMV

        I visited Chicago for the first time a few weeks ago and much preferred Purple Pig to Avec, partly because of Avec's horrible seating and service but mostly due to the food. We had the fava+egg+pancetta dish, the arancini, the pork rillette, and the pork-fried almonds. The arancini and the fava dish were outstanding, I could eat those things again right this second.

        1. re: RichInMV

          You definitely missed the best and most popular items on their menu!! Marrow, rillette (both served with delicious toasts), deep fried deviled egg on microgreens, pigs ears served with greens and a fried egg on top, beets w/goat cheese, shredded aparagus salad, etc. All of the charcuterie are excellent. I have been to PP many times and rate the food, ambience and service far superior to Publican. Definitely go back and try some of these plates.