I’ve been to The Purple Pig quite a few times, and it has never failed to satisfy my hunger cravings. I would describe it as a gastropub with a slight Italian and Mediterranean slant. The nice part is it literally is located across the street from the hotel I stay at every year during my annual mecca to Chicago in June, so there is no excuse not to fit it into the food agenda. I could have sworn I had taken pictures of previous visits, but I guess I never got around to posting about it. Better late than never I say….
Supposedly this is the chef’s grandmother’s recipe where the pork neck bone is simmered until the meat falls off the bone and then it’s mixed into a tomato-based sauce with a dollop of ricotta cheese. This was not at all what we expected when it was described to us, but it was quite delicious. It seems quite simple in that in that it essentially was a tomato sauce that you dip with bread, but it was still very tasty.
I recall ordering a fried pig ears dish before but I recall the flavor profile being different than this particular execution. The pig ears were mixed with some fried kale, pickled cherry peppers and topped with a fried egg. I don’t recall the tangy twist from the pickled peppers and I found them to be extremely overpowering. All I could taste was the pickled flavor, but that aside, I did like the crispiness of the pig ears and kale together.
I think I have ordered this dish every time I’ve come. What can I say, I’m a sucker when it comes to pate, and this was as good as it gets. It was softer and creamier than pate usually comes but it had the same rich umami flavor with just a tad bit of sweetness.
The meatballs were served with green garlic and ricotta puree that tasted similar to the pork neck gravy albeit quite a bit saltier. The toasted brioche was more like a flaky cheesy cracker, but I would have a preferred the bread from the other dishes to help balance out the hearty meatiness of this dish.
We definitely over-ordered, so I could fully appreciate the squid which was stuffed with prosciutto and bread crumbs and plated with a santorini fava puree and charmoula. I liked the squid, but whether it was the filling or the charmoula, the dish tasted a little bit too salty.
All in all, I really like the food but it is definitely hearty and rich and not for those with a heart condition. Although the food tasted a little too salty this time, I won’t knock them for it just based on this meal alone since I never thought they were as heavy handed with the I2O in the past. The one thing I would recommend when visiting, and definitely have to remember for future visits, is that The Purple Pig is definitely best when visited with a big group. Unarguably, this will be difficult because they don’t accept reservations, but the food is so tasty and there is so much worth trying that the best strategy is having many friends who are open to sharing.
The Purple Pig
500 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
PAFO Ratings for The Purple Pig:
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4 stars