The much vaunted Purple Pig is located on the Magnificent Mile just down from the Tribune Tower. It taglines itself as “Cheese, Swine, and Wine” which sounds like an invitation to me. I had heard that it is packed to the rafters and since it does not take reservations we made the effort to get there as the door opened at 11.30am. Even then walking in just minutes after opening it was basically full.
The menu is of the family style sharing format. Lots of little plates of tasty goodies from the cheese, smears, salad, and charcuterie families, plus a whole load of options on the A La Plancha, etc menu. We figured on getting just a few to start with and then see how it went from there.
The first dish to arrive and the one that I chose was the Razor Clams for $12 these came with a light dressing of oregano, lemon, and olive oil. I really liked the presentation in the shells and the dressing was a really great idea, the flavour was quite outstanding. I did however think that my clams were a little rubbery. I think that they had been cooked too long. They were still tasty but I was a little sad, more for them than myself, as they could have made such a great simple dish. I still enjoyed having them though despite the toughness.
I had heard on the grapevine that one of the dishes to get was the Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes for $11. Those whispers were not wrong, it was simply presented in a dish surrounded by milky mashed potato. The meat was extremely tender, it just fell apart as you passed your fork through it. I took a piece or rather a chunk onto a side plate so that you can hopefully see just how easily it pulls apart. The mash was so creamy it was unbelievable, I was not sure if it was mash potato or a thick creamy potato soup. This is definately a highlight dish on the menu. On the face of it, it could sound to be simple, but sometimes simple is best. I think there was some considerable effort made to cook and prepare this dish just right, I could have eaten this one just on my own without sharing.
The first item listed in the plancha section of the menu was a Meatball Slider with Parmesan & Arugula. This almost sounded too simple to get here, can I really just order a meatball? Of course you can, and it is probably going to be a realy fantastic one too. So we did order one. The meatball itself was excellent full of flavour punctuated throughout with fresh herbs. A dusting of Parmesan was sprinkled over the top of the well sauced firm tender ball. The wilted arugula gave a nice peppery bite to the fresh tomato sauce. We should have had one of these each and a $6 a pop, probably that is what they expect you to do.
The last dish we tried was the Morcilla (or Blood sausage or Black Pudding as we call it in England ) with apples, watercress, saba, kidney beans, and navy beans for $11. This looked quite pretty in the serving bowl and you could not really see how much Morcilla you were getting. As it turned out there was at least 4 slices each. It had a nice warm taste, a bit fruity due to the apple juice infusing it slightly, but a very good dish. Generally I prefer my black pudding on my breakfast plate with some eggs and bacon, but this worked for me too. The different beans were a good addition too as they added some bite and texture to the soft Morcilla.
This was an excellent lunch and all things considered not too expensive for what it was. I would say that three of the dishes were really great and that the fourth was good and tasty but just not quite perfectly executed. I would come back here and recommend making a point of eating here as well. I can see why people are talking about this place.
There are loads of CTA buses passing down the Mag Mile that stop nearby and the closest El Stop is probably the Red Line Grand stop