Gorgeous sunny day in Chicago. Let’s play tourist for a meal…Michigan Avenue, check. Water Tower Place, check. Lunch?…Purple Pig (500 N. Michigan Ave.), uh, BIG CHECK. Surprisingly enough, neither Jill nor I had dined at Purple Pig. Once we stopped by but found a two hour wait, and bounced – never spend two hours waiting for a table anywhere. This time, though, swinging through on a (gorgeous) weekday at 2:30 PM, we were seated immediately on their spacious enclosed patio.
You can tell immediately you’re in for a gastronomical treat with charcuterie, cheese and other meaty small bites as your recurring themes in print. Our only dining restrictions were due to my beautiful pregnant wife. This, however, didn’t hold us back from our adventurous eating habits.
We started with the Crispy Pig Ears. Served with pickled spicy, tangy cherry peppers, nice and crispy kale with a runny fried egg, the strands of tender fried pork are complemented perfectly. If any one of the ingredients in this dish were omitted, the balance of flavors would be lost.
The richness of the egg, coupled with the bitter herbaceous kale and finished with the pickled zing of the hot peppers – may I say, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.
Mussels. I’d say that, more often than not, when we find this crustacean on a menu of high pedigree it becomes an item in which we indulge. This occasion at The Purple Pig was no exception.
The mussels themselves were extremely large and plump. Not at all fishy, perfectly cooked and seasoned. We both agreed the broth was absolutely one of the more flavorful white wine broths we have enjoyed in quite some time. The bread that accompanied the dish was grilled nicely.
Prosciutto and creme fraiche added a fattiness and rich quality that worked nicely with the acidic and complex broth. We couldn’t get enough of the delicious liquid at the bottom of the bowl. We (obviously) requested more grilled bread to sop all the goodness up. It was spectacular.
While everything on the menu looked like an excellent way to wrap up this quick bite, our eyes were drawn to one dish – Pork Neck Bone Gravy with Ricotta. Had to check one thing for my pregnant wife, ricotta cheese, pasteurized?…yes?…done.
Within a few moments we were presented with a bubbling dish filled with a generous portion of red “gravy” laced with tender strands of slow braised pork neck.
The marrow of the neck bone is used to thicken the sauce and the addition of the Ricotta cheese in the center proved to be the ingredient that binds the dish. This one is a sure shot when at PP. I recommend you stir up the sauce with the cheese to make an even mixture. This will ensure every bite includes a bit of each element of the plate.
With a lot of hype surrounding The Purple Pig, we left extremely satisfied and looking forward to a return sometime soon. The culinary options are extensive and you can tell that every dish was tasted and perfected before earning a coveted spot on their menu. Go on an off hour and avoid the wait at this phenomenal gastro mecca.
Don’t forget to tell ’em Hungry Hungry sent ya.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat!