500 North Michigan Avenue; 312-464-1744
Anytime someone unveils a hog-dominated charcuterie menu these days, we all instinctively compare it to The Publican, as though Paul Kahan invented the stuff in 2008. Other than a porcine fetish, however, Purple Pig and Publican have little in common. The Purple Pig draws its inspiration from the Mediterranean and packs its menu with an accessible mix of antipasti, cured meats, cheeses, and smears; all the hottest commodities (sopressata, bone marrow, affordable Mediterranean wines) are there for the taking and admirably done. Even gambles pay off, as in the tender sepia cuttlefish a la plancha with toasted almonds and fried rosemary. And not even The Publican has the cojones to dedicate an entire menu section to “fried items.”
TIP: If anyone else in Chicago is doing a Sicilian Iris (a fried brioche filled with ricotta and chocolate chips) as good as The Purple Pig’s version, I haven’t found it yet.
PRICE KEY: ¢ $10 to $19 $ $20 to $29 $$ $30 to $39 $$$ $40 to $49 $$$$ $50-plus
[Cost per person for dinner, excluding wine, tax, or tip]