The Purple Pig – Near North Side

Last fall a friend from San Francisco was in town for work and wanted to go to lunch. Due to time constraints and location I needed to think of place on Michigan Avenue I would want to go and want my friend to experience. The Purple Pig came to mind. It’s good enough for anyone considering themselves a foodie but accessible enough to anyone wanting a casual atmosphere. So despite the crowds and noise level The Purple Pig is cozy and easy-going once you sit down. The wait staff is very knowledgeable and happy to share their expertise and recommendations. You also feel like you could be in any handful of cities in Europe. Get there early or be prepared to wait as they do not take reservations.

There are individual tables but also communal tables that speak to what this restaurant is about, small plates meant for sharing. Depending on how much wine you have you might end up sharing with your neighbor.

With only two people it was a bit difficult to narrow down what we were going to get. There are many things on the menu that I would like but if I had to only eat what we ordered forever more, I would be okay with that.

First up: Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese & Pistachio Vinaigrette & Butternut Squash Arancini with Sage & Walnut Pesto.

I know, beets and goat cheese, ubiquitous to every menu in the last two years. The goat cheese being whipped and the pistachio vinaigrette do make it worth it getting. But I wouldn’t blame you for not ordering this. However, you should order the Butternut Squash. It was the perfect fall day dish. The squash was cooked and season perfectly with salt and pepper accompanied by this wonderfully warm sage. Let’s look at it up close:

Feeling a bit adventurous and considering the restaurant’s name we ordered the Pig’s Ear with Crispy Kale, Pickled Cherry Peppers & Fried Egg. Every ingredient worked magically together. The ear is served in thin slices so enough taste but not over powering at all.  Served up in a pig shaped bowl. Equal parts cute and off-putting.

Next up, Octopus with Green Beans, Fingerling Potatoes & Salsa Verde. The Salsa Verde was the perfect addition to this dish. Added acidity to the octopus (cooked perfectly by the way, not too rubbery) and gave some zip to the vegetables.

Dessert choices were presented and couldn’t be turned down. We went with the Sicilian Iris – Ricotta & Chocolate Chip filled Fried Brioche. Wow. Thin layer of crisp on the brioche as it hits your teeth then you sink into the softness of the brioche and gooey ricotta and melted chocolate.

The Purple Pig is also a great place for European wines, beer, house made charcuterie, and cheeses.

5th Annual Chicago Restaurant Week – February 17-26, 2012

The 5th annual Chicago Restaurant Week participants have been announced. This is your chance to take advantage of the special prix fixe menus starting at $22 for lunch and $33/$44 for dinner from some of the best Chicago restaurants.

Make your reservations sooner than later to snag a spot! You can find participating restaurants and more information in the link below.

Some on my wish list: Blackbird, Bistro Campagne, The Bedford, The Bristol, Deca Restaurant and Bar, Gemini Bistro, GT Fish & Oyster, Hearty Restaurant, Mercat A La Planxa, Mirai Sushi, Nightwood, NoMI Saigon Sisters, Sepia, Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia, Terzo Piano, and Wildfire.

What to do in Chicago, Chicago hotel rooms and sites – Choose Chicago.

2 Sparrows – Foie Gras Pop Tarts & Tator Tots

2 Sparrows in Lincoln Park is best described as high-end comfort food serving breakfast and lunch. For those of you that have been to Nightwood, 2 Sparrows is like her sophisticated younger sister in college. Serious focus on food but very laid back, fun and if you feel like it, they make it easy for you to get liquored up in the middle of the day by providing an ample list of mouth-watering cocktails (I did not partake so can’t review but the drink menu looked really good). It is also on the louder side. Get there early as wait times can be long.

The donuts and their take on pop tarts are what I kept hearing this place is known for. The donuts did look very appetizing but probably best shared if you have more than 2 people. I was with just one friend so we decided to go for the apple/lemon thyme icing pop tart. Served fresh and piping hot it was like an apple strudel. The icing was a nice complement and did not overpower the tart. If you are someone who loves and can stomach rich food then I say go for the foie gras and cherry compote pop tart.

I had the Belly Sandwich – biscuit, pork belly, sunny side egg, pickled onions and tots. The best part of the sandwich was the biscuit. Rich, flakey and fresh. The best part of the meal was the tots. When I saw there were only four tots I thought that was a bit odd and would not be enough. However, these tots are bigger than any tots I have had and a lot richer. Four was PLENTY. They are extra crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. Next time here I will be getting a side of tots no matter what I order (I am thinking it will be the Cuban: sourdough, pulled pork, pork belly, mustard, gruyere, house made pickles, sans the pork belly).

The other order was the Grilled Cheese – fresh goat cheese, gruyere, irish cheddar with an added egg. I tried a bite and one word came to my mind, amazing.  I was transported to a Parisian Bistro. Rich, buttery bread and warm slightly tangy goat cheese and who doesn’t like a fried egg?

Go for the rich comfort food and laid back atmosphere. There is a small bar so if you can skip the wait for a table and belly up for breakfast/lunch there.  They will be hosting dinners now and then with the next on January 20th. Is a Great Lakes Beer Dinner with 5 courses paired with 5 beers. The cost is $60 per person plus tax and gratuity. You can reserve by calling the restaurant.

Wine Bar In The Works: ‘Check, Please’ Host Patners With Bistronomic Owners

 

Fans of Check Please!, the show that lets every day people review their favorite Chicago area restaurant, will be happy to know that the host Alpana Singh is opening a wine bar in River North.  No word of exact location or estimated opening date but I will be on the look out for more updates.  In my opinion there can never be enough good wine bars.

Alpana Singh Restaurant, Wine Bar In The Works: ‘Check, Please’ Host Patners With Bistronomic Owners.