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The Purple Pig, Michigan Avenue

by Krista

Purple pig
The Purple Pig
500 North Michigan Avenue

Date of Last Visit: Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Victim: Me

The Damage: $30

The Background: The night before, my friend Renee had looked at me in my thinly-lined black raincoat and said, simply, “You know you’re going to need a new coat.”

She was right. I had forgotten. Chicago is cold. Cold cold. I would need all new winter everything. Not just a coat but a real hat and real gloves and a meaningful scarf. I am not joking when I say meaningful.

Renee recommended a down coat so this is what I had in my head when I woke up Saturday morning. Your mission today is to get a down coat.

The Journey: I had an awesome time getting to Michigan Avenue from my new place. I took the bus. The bus driver stopped at 7-11 to get two plain hot dogs along the way. I’m not kidding.

Welcome back to Chicago, huh?

But I eventually made my way to Filene’s and then to Loehmann’s and then to Nordstrom Rack, where I picked up everything I needed and now, I shall be impenetrable to the Chicago winter. (You may note that I do appreciate a bit of US discount shopping.)

I had this idea in my head that I would go to Davanti Enoteca for lunch after my shopping was complete, but then I stumbled past The Purple Pig on my way back up Michigan Avenue and thought…EVEN BETTER.

The Entrance: The Purple Pig is PACKED. I despair of ever getting a spot. (I felt awkward taking a photo of the packed space because there were just so many people crammed into it, and they wouldn’t have missed me, photographing them, the strangers.) Luckily I am by myself and there is exactly one free seat at the bar, waiting for me.

Purple pig brussel sprouts
I order a quartino of Portugese red–Douro. It’s Veedha Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franc, and Tinta Barroca. And it’s lovely. Food-wise, despite the many temptations on the menu, I opt simply for some brussel sprouts with chili and lime, along with the pork shoulder and mashed potatoes.

The brussel sprouts arrive and they are not what I expected. They’re deconstructed and the leaves have been cooked to a crisp (in a good way). I like these. A lot. I consider ordering a second batch. But I figure it’s best to wait for my pork shoulder.

And I do wait for my pork shoulder. And wait. And wait some more. You know it’s bad when the staff keep coming back to you, letting you know that they haven’t forgotten you. (They save themselves by being so nice.) By the time the pork arrives, I am so hungry and desperate that I don’t even think to take a photo. I just dig right in.

And it’s good. I mean, it’s okay. But really, it’s just pork shoulder. And the mashed potatoes are almost too creamy for me. I like a bit of solidness and heft in my potatoes.

Which gets me thinking…if The Purple Pig is one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in America (as decided by Bon Appetit in August), America would go CRAZY if Fernandez & Wells opened here. Or Ottolenghi. Or The Providores. Or, well, I think they’d die if St. John were to open its doors. (Even if it was only the bar menu.)

So while I enjoyed my food at The Purple Pig and would certainly go back at some point early in the afternoon or evening before the hordes descend, I would not be all, “Oh my God, it is the most amazing place ever.” But I would tell you that you’ll enjoy yourself and that the menu is very interesting.

The Verdict: Worth a visit.

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Jeff Rapp November 14, 2010 - 1:19 am

Man I’m impressed with your ability to get out and about. I’ve had a few good streaks but you’re making up for lost time 🙂 The pig is good for sure. Now that the Bib Gourmand’s been announced, my list has grown a bit…

Krista November 14, 2010 - 3:26 am

It happens in waves…this weekend, I'll be lucky if I make it do my local taco stand. Today, I had frozen Costco quiche for breakfast…and lunch…

Tomorrow though I am probably going to check out the Logan Square Farmers' market and bust out the SLR!

gourmet traveller November 15, 2010 - 3:36 pm

How funny, I was literally reading that Bon Appetit article last night and thought to myself “I wonder if Krista’s been…”! The brussel sprouts do look good (and I’m not usually a fan) but your post mostly made me glad to be in London, amidst all those lovely eateries you mentioned – am particularly excited about the Ottolenghi restaurant that’s in the works.

Krista November 15, 2010 - 3:41 pm

Wait til you see what I have to say about another Bib Gourmand–the Hopleaf–tomorrow! I am cruel, so very very cruel.

Gourmet Chick November 15, 2010 - 10:24 pm

Your story about moving to Chicago and not having proper coats reminds me of me moving to London! Hope you start to have better luck with the Chicago restaurants.

Julie December 3, 2010 - 3:34 pm

Welcome back to Chicago! Thankfully, it hasn’t been too miserably cold…yet. I felt very similar about the Purple Pig, but I live so close that I am bound to go back. And when I do, I’ll have to try the brussel sprouts!

Krista December 3, 2010 - 3:34 pm

Thanks, Julie! Yes, the weather has been unbelievable cooperative. You know things are bad when all the hats, gloves and scarves are on sale at Nordstrom’s! No one is buying!

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