Swine and Dine

The Mag Mile just got meatier

There are big Chicago names behind the brand new restaurant The Purple Pig: Jimmy Banos Sr. of Heaven on Seven, Scott Harris of Mia Francesca and, wearing the chef coat, Jimmy Banos Jr.

Their collective culinary know-how makes for a superb addition to downtown dining. And the warm, wood-lined space–with Edison bulbs, an open kitchen and only 63 seats–feels far from the Mag Mile, despite its Michigan Ave. address.

The menu's highlights are underappreciated parts of the restaurant's namesake, all deftly transformed into addictive snacks. Nutty fried almonds with roasted garlic and rosemary are slick with savory pork fat ($4). Braised pig's ear–slivered, fried, laced with pickled peppers and crowned with a fried egg–is salty, spicy and delicious ($6). Pig's tongue poached in vinegar and sugar makes pleasantly tangy slices of lingua agrodolce ($6).

Tender pork blade steak–brined, seared on the plancha and brushed with honey ($14)–rests on a broad swath of nduja, a soft, subtly spicy Calabrian sausage made by an Italian friend of Banos Sr.

Beyond pork, try whipped brandade ($6) and tangy eggplant caponata ($5), served with thick-cut rustic bread smeared with goat cheese.

Finish with soft-serve ice cream, the old-school dessert that's getting gussied up across the country. Here it's dressed in olive oil and gianduja (think creamy, frozen Nutella).

The Purple Pig, 500 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-464-1744 or thepurplepigchicago.com