Chicago is known as “Hog Butcher to the World.” One of the Titans of Pork in this town is none other than Jimmy Bannos, Jr., Chef and Partner of The Purple Pig which is located on The Magnificent Mile.
The Purple Pig is one of my most favorite restaurants. To say that I am in love with this place is a huge understatement. The cuisine is Mediterranean with influences from some other cultures when Chef Jimmy is feeling more creative. This spot serves the very best of swine, wine and cheese. The menu is always fresh and being updated.
The Purple Pig has been enjoying a steady stream of new and returning customers, since it opened a few years ago. It is open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and late night dining. I can never get enough of it. Today, I treated myself to a lovely solo lunch here for the first time. I usually go for late night dining to avoid the crowds. They do not take reservations and I like to eat at the sexy, elegant, friendly bar where I can peer into the kitchen at Chef Jimmy’s “band of blue, bandana-wearin’ brothers” who are always on top of their game. What’s that, you say? You want pig ears? They’ve got ’em. Bone marrow flies out of the kitchen in record numbers. Chicken, fish, veggies, charcuterie and cheese, oh my!! And, don’t forget the wine. They have a huge and lovely selection.
Fresh from my strategically planned morning work out at the gym, I hopped the CTA Red Line to the Grand ‘L’ stop. I walked just 2 blocks east and
1/2 block south to The Purple Pig for another truly memorable meal 🙂 Several CTA buses along Michigan Avenue also stop here.
Here’s how my lunch went down:
I started with an appetizer of calamari, fregula, radishes, cucumbers and pistachios. This dish is so light and fresh. The calamari and fregula were cooked perfectly. The radishes and cucumbers were cool and fresh. The pistachios were toasty and crunchy. Lovely.
Next up I tried a sampling of The Purple Pig’s charcuterie. This gorgeous, glimmering platter consisted of duck prosciutto with blood orange slices, coppa, Morcilla (blood sausage), pickeled cornichons and warm, buttery crostini. Chef Jimmy cures all the meats in-house.
Last but not least, I ordered the flat-iron pork with Calabrian chilis, shaved brussel sprouts, carrots and kimchi. The port was succulent. The fushion of kimchi with the other ingredients was a really nice, creative surprise. Check it out:
The Purple Pig offers communal seating, as well as seating along one wall and dining at the bar. The latter is my personal favorite, as it allows me to peer into the kitchen and get a glimpse of Chef Jimmy’s wickedly quick and adept staff in action.
Long communal tables at The Purple Pig make dining with friends and strangers more fun!
Bonus!! Currently, The Purple Pig is expanding its outdoor seating area. I caught a glimpse of the construction today. So, in the warmer weather, you can enjoy your swine, wine and more outdoors while people watching along Michigan Avenue.
The Purple Pig has been enjoying steady accolades since it opened. It has a been on the Michelin Recommended list for the last few years now. Chef Jimmy Bannos, Jr. was honored by The James Beard Foundation with the “Rising Star Chef” award in 2014. He is one of the select reasons why The James Beard Foundation chose to move its annual award ceremony from NYC to Chicago in 2015. Bravo, Chef!! Sorry, NYC (my hometown)! Step up your game 🙂
So, people! Run. Don’t walk to The Purple Pig as soon as possible. And, if you cannot run or walk…
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Red Line to The Purple Pig. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!
The Purple Pig is located at 500 N. Michigan Avenue. For more information visit http://www.thepurplepigchicago.com/