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Purple Pig, Chicago

Wow. In planning our trip to Chicago, I came across the Purple Pig and new immediately by their slogan,  "Cheese,Swine, and Wine" that we had to go. I had great expectations upon going there and was not disappointed. When my companion and I arrived at the Purple Pig we were amazed from start to finish. The place is pretty big and has giant wooden communal tables (for some reason this is big in Chicago, I think a couple of Paul Kahan's places are like that too). We opted to sit at the large bar so we could have our own space. Our waitress/bartender was awesome, totally friendly, fun and guided us through the process so we could have the best experience! Purple Pig's menu focuses on small plates so you can pick and choose and share all the good stuff they have.

A bonus was we could partially see the kitchen area and that was totally fun to watch. We had had pre-dinner drinks at LuxBar (highly recommend) and so we dove right into wine. I believe at the recommendation of our lovely bartender we had a white wine to start us off since our first dishes were vegetables, followed by a fatty dish that would require something to help cut through the fat.

Beets, peas in background
We started with fresh peas with bacon and spearmint. I can't tell you how good this was the peas were sweet and fresh, the bacon salty and fatty and the spearmint was so refreshing and added a brightness to the dish. We also had salt roasted beets with whipped goat cheese and pistachio vinaigrette. I love beets, my dining companion, not so much, but he did try a few of them, he did like the goat cheese. Beets and goat cheese are often paired together and for good reason the earthy sweetness is so good with the creamy, tangy cheese and the pistachios added a nice crunch and flavor.

Yummy Marrow
Next up was by far both of our favorites. Roasted bone marrow with herbs. Nothing is better than a plate with bones on it and that juicy, fatty marrow sitting in there. We used the little knife they gave to dig the marrow out and put it on the crusty, delicious bread they provided. The marrow was listed under the category of "Smears" with other yummy friends like caponata, rillette and foie gras. The veggies we started with were under "Antipasti". Next we moved into "Fried Items" there is bound to be goodness there but there was just one thing that grabbed our attention. Pig's Ear with crispy kale, cherry peppers and a fried egg.

Pig Ear
Ok, get over the shock, now focus. It's not what you picture, I know you are imagining a plate with a giant ear like a dog's raw hide toy. No. This was a thinly sliced, deeply fried, served in a bowl with kale and topped with a fried egg. Mix that all up and you've got supreme flavor. The ear was crispy and yummy, we love kale anyway (EAT MORE KALE) and the egg, oh my.

By now we had moved into red wine. I got so excited with the menu and  I couldn't stop ordering. We moved into "cured meats" and got a lovely dried chorizo. It wasn't greasy at all, it was moist yet had a snap to it, perfect seasoning, just a little spice. I'd say it was a great mid-way point on our food journey.


We ended our journey with two items from the menu category of "a la plancha" or items from the grill. My dining companion was dying to try the sweetbreads and I talked him into the turkey leg confit. If you are not familiar with sweetbreads they are glands from an animal, usually thymus or pancreas. The ones we had were from a pig, yum. They were soft and creamy, perfectly paired with fennel and apricots. The sweetness from the apricots was excellent with the fat from the fried sweetbreads. The turkey leg. Oh my again. My companion didn't want it but I talked him into it and he was so glad I did. You can't go wrong with confit, cooking something slow and low on the bone, there is nothing that beats it. The meat just melted in our mouths. The seasonings was salty and herb-y just what you'd want with a meat like turkey.
Turkey Leg

There are so many choices at The Purple Pig, you can't go wrong and the staff is there to help you out and answer any questions you have. The place lends it self to fun, laughter and getting to know your neighbor, we shared a few items with a couple next to us at the bar and talked food and then also were joking with some people standing behind us who were coveting our seats, we promised they could have them when we got up but that they had to order the pig's ear. What a fun night. We had so much meat we didn't have room for dessert but the list looked awesome. 

So, if you find yourself in Chicago, oh hell, go to Chicago just so you can experience this place, there is no other like The Purple Pig. Amen.


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