The Purple Pig: Heavenly Grub, Great Atmosphere

This weekend, my friends are I were craving tapas, so after a quick google search and some positive Yelp reviews, we decided on The Purple Pig on Michigan Ave. A foodie at heart, but undeniably can’t afford to be, I was excited to try this restaurant and see what all the online buzz was about.

A little background: Jimmy Bannos Jr., the chef of the Purple Pig, is a fourth generation restauranteer, with family roots going back generations. He learned the art of cooking from his father, who was the chef at Heaven on Seven at Wabash Ave. The Purple Pig is a “wine, swine, and cheese” bar, with an extensive selection of wines and cheeses.

When we arrived, there was a fairly long wait, 45 minutes to an hour. It was a chilly night, but luckily they had intense heaters that did the trick. When we got seated 45 minutes later, we were ready.

The atmosphere was contradictory to the dishes…in a good way. It was a relaxed atmosphere, with chalkboards, popular music, and community eating tables. While the food was somewhat classier, the restaurant provided a relaxing atmosphere where folks could talk and get to know each other.

After looking over the wine list, we had no idea what to get. Finally, we ended up asking the waitress to recommend a wine. We were pretty satisfied with the response, which I will update later when I remember the name.

First course was a Braised Baby Artichokes, Fingerling Potatoes, Asiago & Salami Toscana antipasti, a light and refreshing first course. Next was Eggplant Parmesan Balls, which were delicious considering I’d just started eating eggplant parmesan. Best I’ve ever tasted, though.

As recommended by the waitress, we next got the Milk Braised Pork Shoulder. The meat was tender and easily cut, and gone in about a second and a half.  At this point we were awarded with a surprise – confusion in the kitchen and there was extra skate! Now this is a fish that I don’t normally eat, and it was cooked pretty well, not too dry.

Two more dishes finished this dinner off – a Mortadella, Balsamico & Pistachio smear, which was not what I expected with the balsamic covering the bread and pistachios (the perfect compliment to the sauce) overflowing off the top. Lastly, we decided to be brave and try the Fried Pig’s Ears. Surprisingly savory, this dish was complimented nicely by the fried kale and fried egg to hold the dish all together. After a stunningly good experience at the Purple Pig, I will definitely be returning to this newly discovered restaurant!

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