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“Nice but not worth the hype and hassle”
Review of The Purple Pig

The Purple Pig
Ranked #21 of 9,764 Restaurants in Chicago
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $15
Cuisines: European, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene, Local cuisine, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, Delivery, Reservations
Neighborhood: Magnificent Mile
Description: Experience the exquisite cuisine of James Beard, Rising Star Chef 2014 - Jimmy Bannos Jr. As a fourth generation restaurateur, he was mentored by his father, Jimmy Bannos (Chef/Owner of Heaven on Seven) and catapulted his expertise through training by nationally renowned chefs. Since opening in 2009, under the leadership of Jimmy Bannos Jr., The Purple Pig has received numerous accolades, including being named one of 2010’s “10 Best New Restaurants in America” by Bon Appétit magazine; and a Bib Gourmand recipient from the Michelin Guide Chicago in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; among other honors. Dubbed the "Prince of Pork" by Dana Cowin (Food and Wine Editor and Chief); Jimmy Jr. brings his love for Mediterranean food to the Windy City in fun, inventive ways - at this rustic sharable plate restaurant, conveniently located on the Magnificent Mile. Located at 500 North Michigan Avenue, the restaurant offers cheese, swine and wine, among other standout dishes, showcasing the flavors of Italy, Greece and Spain.
Reviewed February 18, 2012

I finally got to experience the "swine and wine" at this hot new restaurant right on Michigan avenue. Previous trips were abandoned when faced with overwhelming crowds and ridiculous wait times. I arrived at 5:45 on a Thursday, and the place was packed, not a single space open in the relatively small restaurant. If you decide to wait for a single opening at 1 of the 3 large high-top communal tables, be prepared to play an endless dance with the hostess, guests, busboys, and waiters, all traveling back and forth in the same narrow aisle you are forced to stand in while waiting. If you are lucky enough to get the attention of the bartender, you have the honor of paying $13 for a belgian style ale (12 oz on tap). It was good, but really? $13 for a small draft beer? After about 20 mins. of rather conspicuous and agile waiter dodging, I was finally wedged into an open space at 1 of the communal tables. When I say wedged in, I mean literally. I thought they were going to have to use some of the plentiful lard from their kitchen to grease the sides of the chairs so we could be locked back into place. These seats are so close, I might call these tables conjugal instead of communal. Also, please, when you are sitting at a comuunal table, please be courteous enough to allow arriving guests entry - turning your back on the waitress and ignoring us is NOT going to make it go any easier (witch). OK, so after all this hassle, I screamed my order at the waitress (the noise level is just above rock concert) and was then subjected to overhearing the conversation (screaming match) going on between my 2 tableside guests. Another hint - when you're in a rather public setting that requires you to speak loudly, consider excluding conversations about politics/religion/sex - especially sex. Nobody, trust me, NOBODY, wants to hear about what kind of porn you and you're boyfriend choose to watch, not at the dinner table, not ever. Finally, I get to sample the raved about food. I started with the fried olives stuffed with chorizo (are these on just about every menu nowadays?) and they were pretty good. 6 good size olives, and at $5, the only real value I saw all night. They went well with a Spanish Rioja I ordered (nice touch, you can get 1 glass, or 1/3, 1/2 bottles; but I found it odd they excluded ANY domestic wines. A good selection of imports, but why not include some domestic choices?). I was recommended the bone marrow smear, and I have to say I was disappointed. A smallish portion, somewhat bland, even with the herb dressing and the sea salt garnish. It actually tasted like it had been in the refrigerator too long, just didn't have the fresh taste I expected. Finally, a dish to be proud of - the milk braised pork shoulder. If it wasn't for this final saving dish, I would have been hard pressed to rate this restaurant above poor. This dish was outstanding - this is what I was looking for, and salvaged an otherwise tough dining experience. Overall, the impression I left with was of a pretty good neighborhood tapa's bar, hit and miss as most are, that is riding a wave of communal good feeling way beyond where it should be if considered on the food and ambience alone. Chicago is a great food town, and there is NO WAY this is 1 of the top 5 restaurants in this city - not on food, not on atmosphere, not on value. If you want to get there early, or for lunch, pop in and see if you agree.

    • Value
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1  Thank rosebrien
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,115 - 4,119 of 4,863 reviews

Reviewed February 16, 2012

This place gets overly crowded, the menu is limited, the wine selection is limited and it is all overpriced. I found the food didn't meet my expectations and lacked in creativity, flavor and overall satisfaction. Seating is cramped as many parties are seated tightly at a single communal table. At times people had to crawl out from under the table to get out.

Thank kennen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 14, 2012

A wonderful haven to eat and enjoy a glass of wine just off Michigan Ave. Innovative dishes - the exotic and the simple - fantastic flavours. Treat of a wine list

Thank Luce099
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2012

The owners of The Purple Pig gave this restaurant the right tagline - cheese, swine & wine. First things first, go early and stand in line. The restaurant does not take reservations. We tried on a Saturday and Sunday. There was an hour plus wait on Saturday, well before dinner. I don't mind waiting for something good, but the restaurant is not spacious and to have people lingering around waiting for a table is not very practical. We lucked out on Sunday morning by getting in line right before the doors opened. Surprisingly, Sunday was not nearly as busy. The bottom line? Stick with cheese, swine & wine, in particular the meats, cheeses and smears. The milk braised pork should was very good. This restaurant is really a tapas place so if you're looking for a single, large portion you'll be disappointed. Also, if you're a "foodie" you might not be totally blown away. The atmosphere is great and the food is good (very good in some cases), but not blow-your-mind the best food you'll ever have. For a more unique experience, my advice is to go out on a limb and try things you're not likely to try at other restaurants. Loved the background music!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Thank uwred1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2012

Very busy place. The tables are tight and the music is loud so it isn't for everyone but if you want to go to a fun place with great food this is a great choice. The Octopus was our favorite plate.
The waitresses were also great.

Thank pats10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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