Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Purple Pig

There are some places that are foodie destinations.  This does not necessarily mean that the place is outrageously expensive and exclusive.  What it does mean is that it is a place that is very creative and different and operates at a high level.  The Purple Pig is one of these places and it has been on my list for several years but for a variety of reasons, a major one being the fact that they don't take reservations and the wait times can be extremely long.  Several of my friends have asked me if I have gone but I would have to say I have not been there.  Recently however, circumstances played out such that I am now able to say that I have been here.  A friend recently came to town and was staying at a hotel a block away from the restaurant so I decided that it was time to go.  The plan was to go for dinner and meet with my friend after.  Unfortunately I was unable to get there as soon as I would as I would have liked and by the time I arrived the wait time was an hour and 45 minutes.  I really had no desire to wait there for that long but they did allow me to leave my name and number and they would call me when the table was ready so that is what I did.  I met my friend (and his family) and hung out until I was called.  My friend joined me.  While the address of The Purple Pig is on Michigan Ave, the only thing on Michigan Ave. is an archway with a sign.  There is a walkway that leads to the entrance which is actually above Illinois Street and closer to Rush Street than Michigan Ave.  There is a covered patio for outdoor dining with a fire burning (because it was rather chilly on the evening that I went).  It was full though and we dined indoors.  The dining room looked had high ceilings with a large L-shaped bar and a vintage look.  As it is very popular, it was crowded and pretty loud.  As The Purple Pig is known for their Cheese, Swine, and Wine, we decided we had to have some of all of these.  They have a large charcuterie list and many of the meats are self made.  The menu has something called The Purple Pig Platter which includes a few slices of all of their cured pork.  As this place is called The Purple Pig, we decided that this was a necessity.  On the platter was Lingua Agrodolce, Cacciatorini, Catalonian Fuet, Chorizo, Testa, Coppa, Tartufo, Jamon Serrano, Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele.  This was all sliced thin, and prepared well.  I liked most of the slices especially the ham (Jamon and Prosciutto) and the Lingua Agrodolce (tongue) but the Testa was a little too gamy for me and I don't know if I would order it on it's own.

If you are going to have charcuterie, it's a given that you also have to have cheese.  For our cheeses, we went for delice de bourgogne,a cow's milk triple cream cheese from the Burgundy region of France, Caveman Blue, a cow's milk blue cheese from Oregon's Rogue River Creamery and an unlabeled smoked Gouda.  The cheeses were served with Fig Jam and Toast and were very good on their own or combined with the charcuterie.

With the cheese and swine, we also had wine to fulfill our "obligation" to go for cheese, swine, and wine.  We had a bottle of Syrah, but what specifically we had, I could not say.  I could say however that it was good.

We decided to continue with the swine after the charcuterie and cheese and had a couple of prepared dishes, one of which was a house specialty.  We had a Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes and Milk Gravy.  The waiter told us that this was a specialty and I can see why because this was amazing.  The pork was fork tender and amazingly flavorful.  The mashed potatoes were very creamy and the gravy was essentially the braising liquid for the pork.  It was creamy of course, but it also brought with it a good bit of pork fat and flavoring which tied the mashed potatoes to the pork shoulder.

Our other entree was a Pork Secreto with Roasted Red Pepper, Leeks, and Pickled Watermelon Rind.  It seems that the secreto is exactly as it sounds, secret.  It is a little used cut of pork located close to the pork belly.  It has a bit of the pork belly flavor and while it is tender and has a bit of bacon flavor, it isn't as fatty.  It was very good in any case and the red pepper, leeks, and watermelon rind that were served with the secreto kind of reminded me of the red pepper sauce that is served with Ćevapi.

For dessert, I had what were essentially Greek doughnuts.  I don't remember what they were called and I forgot to take pictures of them but they were fluffy, sweet, and like everything else that we had, very good.

Dinner at The Purple Pig was great and I am glad that I finally made it here.  The food and drink was very good, the space looked very nice, and the waitstaff were very friendly and helpful.  It was very loud here, but as it is a very popular place, and it was crowded, it was to be expected.  I will definitely have to find my way back here some time because there were some dishes that I still have to try like the pig tails and the pork jowls.


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