During our recent trip to Chicago, W and I decided to pay a visit to The Purple Pig. It is probably one of the most well-known restaurant in town, alongside Alinea and Girl & the Goat (reviews coming soon for those). Unlike the other two, The Purple Pig is infamous for not taking reservation. W & I visited on a Saturday night around 8:50pm and we were told it would be a 2 hour wait. Luckily we stayed at the Conrad that’s right next door, so we left our phone number and went back to the hotel. Surprisingly we got a call around 1 hour later saying there’s a table for us! We were seated at a communal table, not a great location because it’s right by the hostess booth and people kept hitting my chair when they walk past. However, we were just glad we got a seat!
The dishes are meant to be shared, so W and I picked 3 dishes which we have heard great review for. The first dish was under the Fried menu – Pig’s Ear with Crispy Kale, Pickled Cherry Peppers & Fried Egg. This was easily our favourite dish of the night. You are supposed to break the egg yolk and mix everything together. The kale was probably the best I’ve ever had. Seasoning was spot on. The pig’s ear was fried very well, and it didn’t feel or taste oily at all. The cherry peppers added some nice acidity to the whole dish. Try to have all the components of the dish in one bite, as this is truly one of those dishes that tastes better combined than the individual flavours.
Next up was one of their most famous dishes, Roasted Bone Marrow with Herbs. It is under the Smear menu, meaning it is meant to be smeared on a piece of bread, almost like a pâté. It came with 3 pieces of bone, 5 slices of toasted bread, and some herbs and sea salt. The marrow was very rich and oily (not unexpected), but surprisingly fell short on flavour. I felt like I was eating a piece of bread that’s soaked in oil. I do love the herbs and the bread, but the marrow was a huge disappointment!
Our last dish before dessert was the Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes. The portion was smaller than I expected, but I didn’t mind at all because the marrow was very oily and filling. The meat was so tender our spoon sliced through it like a knife! The shoulder tasted good, but it did not blow us out of the water. I do love the mashed potatoes though (although I love all mashed potatoes…)! Overall we liked this dish but it was still overshadowed by the Pig’s Ear.
I read a lot of raving review about this dessert, the Sicilian Iris, which is a ricotta & chocolate chip filled fried brioche. I have never had anything like this before! When cut open, the melted ricotta cheese and chocolate chips oozes out, and it was delicious! W commented saying it tasted like churros. I think I liked the filling more than the brioche itself, it’s warm and sweet and a tad bit sour from the ricotta.
Overall we liked The Purple Pig, but to us it didn’t live up to all the hype surrounding it, especially with the wait. The pig’s ear is a must try, but I suggest you to skip the marrow. Service was pretty on point. It was definitely the loudest restaurant we’ve been to in a long time, to the point where I had to raise my voice so W can hear me. If you are looking for a place to eat near the Magnificent Mile after a day of shopping, I suggest you to head over and get your name on the list, then continue your shopping!