The Purple Pig has gonenext door. The popular establishment moved to a new, larger location at 444 N. Michigan Ave. this June, with an updated menu.
Chef Jimmy Bannos Jr.'s establishment seats more than 100 people in red leather booths and chairs, with wood and marble tables and countertops to match. Lunchtime finds the restaurant comfortably full, with a blend of locals and out-of-towners whose conversation you might find interfering with your own in a somewhat noise-challenged space.
The menu divides its offerings into snacks, vegetables ( a blessing for vegetarians and vegans at a place whose name might intimidate those diners ), pasta, seafood and meat, with an ample beverage list replete with French and Italian wines as company.
The ham croquettes, one of the snacks, resembled high-class carnival food. The dish sees the central animal rendered to a creamy puree and fried in a ball, with the ease at which the golden exterior yields to the near-paste underneath invokes funnel cake.
The vegetable portion of the menu includes the grilled broccoli, a unanimous favorite among myself and my fellow diners. An anchovy vinaigrette is the secret to success, with a note of vinegar and salt that couldn't be further from Lays' offerings.
Among the seafood offerings, a potato ice cream accompanied by caviar-laden waffle chips make for an indescribable experience in all meanings, transitioning from sweet and creamy to crunchy and salty with a rollercoaster of sensation in between. Be sure to eat it before the ice cream melts and the flavor profile is muddled.
Perhaps most surprising is the rather modest offering of the milk-braised Berkshire shoulder, a popular holdover from the prior establishment. Most of the dish's flavor comes from a peppery gravy; the tender meat melts in your mouth with the gravy and mashed potatoesbut not as quickly as the flavor does, such that chewing continues a bit too long after other sensations have faded.
Returning to the impulse of the ham croquette is an irisa goose's ( fried ) golden egg of confectionary chocolate and ricotta filling, while an expertly executed cheesecake shows the menu excels at standbys just fine.
Diners had little reason to doubt Bannos or his establishment, but its comforting nonetheless to see a little change can't rock the Purple Pig's boat.
Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.
Ross Mathews' brunch at City Winery
Ross Mathews Presents Dragtastic Bubbly Brunch will take place July 28, Aug. 11 and Sept. 15 at 12 p.m. at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St.
In a statement, Mathews said, "I wanted to combine my love for Drag with my love for mimosas, and I really think I nailed it. For an hour and a half, we can all shut the door on the outside world to smile, cheers and sing along."
Mathews, a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race, is behind the event. ( However, he is not guaranteed to be at every brunch. ) Drag Race and local queens will show off their talents as the audience sips mimosas and enjoy a City Winery brunch.
See CityWinery.com .