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.