Alternate title for this post, “How I will soon be broke and weigh 1,000 pounds.” Chicago is a big city with a lot of good restaurants. Very good restaurants. Very expensive restaurants. Which is why I rarely go to a restaurant (other than my cheap, standby take-out or work lunch places) more than once, especially if it’s a pricier restaurant. But in the last six months, I have been to the Purple Pig FOUR times, with four different friends. Two of those times, I’m embarrassed (but also a little proud) to admit, have been this week. (In fact, I’ve already raved about this place once here.) Every time I have left fuller than full and smiling from ear to ear. Crowded? Yes. Loud and hard to hold a conversation in? Definitely. But I’m willing to overlook that because this place is good. Yes, THAT good.
- Winter Squash Arancini & Sage Pesto (nuggets of fall)
- Laughing Bird Shrimp & Clams with Rosamarina (a nice, cold salad)
- Octopus with Green Beans, Fingerling Potatoes & Salsa Verde (so tender and not the least bit chewy)
I didn’t really take a lot of pictures at Meal #1. My BFF Derrick was in town unexpectedly for work so I was too busy catching up. Not pictured but thoroughly enjoyed at Meal #1:
- Butternut Squash, Pumpkin Seeds, Brown Butter & Ricotta Salata (amazing!!!)
- Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese & Pistachio Vinaigrette (delicious and this coming from a person who doesn’t care much for beets)
- Proscuitto bread balls (but I’ve shown those to you before)
- Panino con Nutella (A Sweet Sandwich filled with a Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, Marshmallow Cream & Bananas)
This however, the roasted bone marrow smear with herb salad, is the show stopper, as is evidenced by the fact that I’m subjecting you to not one, but three photos of the dish. I confess that I’m a little late to the roasted bone marrow party. (Fergus Henderson of St. John’s fame was way ahead of the curve.) I’d read about it before but never tried it myself until I was at the Purple Pig back in October (that was meal #2, again with a good friend, no pictures). I’ve had plenty of other iterations of marrow in earlier chapters of my life. My grandma was overly fond of marrow soups and many a happy, happy childhood memories revolve around me either eating or cooking marrow soups in the winter with her. I wish she were still around so I could take her out to eat this. I’d like to think she’s out there somewhere, smiling and proud that her now adult granddaughter loves bone marrow just as much as she did. And perhaps this what makes this dish so special for me? The memories? Suffice to say, this dish is good. “Blackout” good. “If I was granted one last meal, this might be it” good. “I don’t want this to be over” good. Ok, I’ll shut up about this now but you get the picture.
Honestly, that’s pretty damn hard to top but these chicken kebabs definitely held their own. I rarely order chicken in restaurants but our server said this was one of his favorite dishes. I’m glad we listened. Piled high on a bed of fried smash potatoes and a lovely tzatziki sauce, the chicken was tender (and yet the skin was marvelously crispy), juicy, and so very delicious.
You’d think we were done but Tina, kindred spirit that she is, shares my philosophy that there is always room for dessert. When I’d gone on Monday with Derrick, they were out of a dish I’d been curious about, the Sicilian Iris–a ricotta and chocolate chip fried brioche. They had it this time and I jumped at the chance to get it. It was also SO GOOD.
In the end, there were a lot of clean plates, full stomachs, and happy hearts. Really, at the end of a meal, can you ask for more? I think I just gained five pounds reliving this meal but I firmly believe that the very best meals are the ones that stay with you longer after they’re done. And I don’t just mean in the waistline either. 🙂
The Purple Pig: 500 N. Michigan Ave.