The Purple Pig is one of my favorite Chicago restaurants to have a casual but excellent food. (I’ve been there years ago so this isn’t like I’ve eaten there one time for this trip.) What I really adore about this place is the robust flavors and the chef isn’t afraid to serve offal. We’ve also realized after having two large lunches on this trip that the restaurant does change the menu (not its entirety but a few dishes are swapped out).
We started off with an incredible house cured sardines on toast. The thick, olive oiled country bread is grilled then smeared with a creamy avocado green goddess, topped with salsa verde and shaved fennel. The oiliness of this fish wasn’t overwhelming but it’s the key flavor of this entire toast besides the delicate anise and vibrant parsley flavors.
The beloved crispy pigs ears were as good as I remembered them. The thin ribbons of pigs ears were deep fried until it’s crispy as a thick cut potato chip and liberally salted as one. The fried kale added a subtle crunch and the pickled cherry peppers were the key ingredient from making this dish heavy. The over easy egg was stirred in first to distribute the lovely egg yolk and meld all of the various flavors and textures.
The other toast we had was topped with gooey tetilla cheese, house made ‘nduja, and topped with giardiniera. This would be my dream fancy pants cheese sandwich. The soft, buttery, not too salty cheese worked beautifully with the beautifully spicy, spreadable ‘nduja sausage and the sharp pickled giardiniera to cut through the richness of the sausage and cheese.
The half duck confit, on a shallow pool of Greek yogurt, and spoonfuls of smoked trout roe with toasted broiche buns served on the side was a glorious main course. The duck confit was incredibly delicious duck that has meltingly tender meat just crispy, brittle skin that I always wished confitted meats always had. The yogurt adds some coolness, tartness and creaminess and the parsley added a refreshing note. The trout roe was a fine addition adding a hint of brine and delicately sweet but it didn’t feel like it’s a necessary element.
We finished our first meal with the Sicilian Iris, a broiche doughnut filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate chip and topped with a hefty coating of powdered sugar. Admittedly, I was too full to really enjoy this dessert but I remembered it was very tasty. The gooey filling was rocket hot when you slice open the just fried pastry. It’s not a very sweet and it’s a well made doughnut.
When we came back for lunch a few days later and started off with the Croque Signora, a thick sandwich made with thinly sliced picnic ham, spread with with spicy ‘nduja, layered with kale and butternut squash mostarda and topped with a fried egg. It’s a sandwich that no one can elegantly eat but it’s perfectly fine given how tasty this sandwich is.
One of the specials of the day was the baked eggs fra diavolo. It’s a comforting bowl of steaming hot, spicy tomato sauce topped with cooked eggs. It’s a solid egg dish but it’s not as exciting as other dishes we have had here.
The main course for this lunch was a huge platter of chamomile tea smoked pork leg for two with charred cabbage, sherry membrillo and a pork bone marrow custard set in the center. The pork leg is akin to a beautifully seared, smoky fresh ham and the sweet cabbage and the sweet-tart membrillo sauce enhanced the inherent sweetness of the pork.
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The Purple Pig
500 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611