"The Purple Pig" by Chef Nina Faustmann

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At 6:15 on a Wednesday night, I waited almost 45 minutes for a table at “The Purple Pig”.  The newly opened and already extremely popular restaurant is located at 500 N. Michigan Ave, tucked away in a corner over looking the river.  Long marble tables extend from wall to wall and only a few two and four person table tops line the sides.  The wine list is incredible, representing its appropriate slogan “cheese, swine, and wine”.  We enjoyed a rich, textured, smear made up of pork neck rillette with mostarda.  The gelatinous appearance was overcome by the shredded pork neck, but had a smooth mouth feel nonetheless.  This was served with sweetened roasted red bell peppers, mustard seeds (mustarda), course kosher salt and crusty, oiled bread.  Another favorite small plate was the pig’s ear with crispy kale, marinated cherry peppers and a fried egg.  Once we broke into the yoke, the dish was surrounded by warm yellow goodness.  The pork ears were deep fried and their crispiness was a great compliment to the egg whites and giardiniera-like cherry peppers.  The whole dish reminded me of a hearty breakfast with fried eggs and crispy hash browns.  After ending our savory meal, we found that the olive oil soft served ice cream seemed peculiar to satisfy our sweet tooth. Surprisingly, the olive oil had a thicker, salty taste which was wonderful paired with the vanilla ice cream.  Just before leaving, Chef Jimmy Banos welcomed us with his charming presents, where he graciously came around to many of the customer’s tables throughout the night.  Expect to wait a while with a glass of wine in your hand because “the Purple Pig” does not take reservations, but you will find that it will be light on your wallet and the variety of pig parts available are represented in remarkable ways.

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