Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chicago Takeover: The Food- An Epic Progressive Meal

This is the last of my Chicago posts, and we're going out with a bang. Strap in, because we're going on a ride.

Michelle and I had asked our readers to share Chicago dining suggestions with us. You all came up with some great ideas, but one seemed to really stand out--- The Purple Pig. Unfortunately, it is incredibly popular and they don't accept reservations. Even with us dining there on a Sunday, we anticipated a long wait. So we decided to be strategic about our evening, and to do a little progressive meal with some small plates and cocktails before arriving at The Purple Pig for our wait.

First up? Bravo's Top Chef Fabio Viviani's Siena Tavern. We may have been trying to get a peek at swoon-worthy celebrity chef Fabio, but sadly he wasn't there. Luckily, the food, drinks, and atmosphere more than made up for it!
We both really liked the feel of the restaurant. We plopped ourselves at the bar, and it was a perfect place for a drink and small bite.
I had a No. 1 cocktail, which was light with a hint of tartness ($12).
After discussing a couple of options with the bartender, Michelle and I decided to share an order of the Coccoli, which is crispy dough with stracchinco cheese, prosciutto, and truffle honey ($14).
Apparently, people come from all over just to try this dish. It's one of their signature items, and I can see why. It was the best thing that I ate the entire time that we were in Chicago, and we had some pretty good meals! The intent is that you break open the fluffy dough, and insert the small wrap of prosciutto and cheese, soak up some honey and pesto, and you're ready to go. Do NOT miss this dish if dining at Siena Tavern!

It was just a quick walk down a few blocks to our next stop--- Giuliana and Bill Rancic's RPM. In case you couldn't tell, we were on a brief celebrity tour. Sadly, even though we were advised of our rights when entering...
...there was no filming of their TV show going on, and no celeb sightings. Again, we were fortunate that the food and atmosphere didn't disappoint. It was a bit darker and more "swanky" feeling inside than Siena Tavern. We found two spots at the bar, and settled in for another drink and two small plates. I stuck with my cocktails, and ordered a Heart of Another at this stop.

We couldn't be in an Italian restaurant and not order Italian food, so we shared an order of the Fried Olives ($5)
 and the Maine Lobster Ravioli- spinach pasta with lemon and chili ($15).
Maybe not remarkable, but it was certainly good and a bit unusual with the chili, lemon, and basil combination.

Now, it was time to move on to our last and final stop---The Purple Pig.
Their tagline is "Cheese, Wine, and Swine", so we knew that this restaurant was right up our alley. Those are three of my favorite things in life! We were correct in assuming that it would be a wait (an hour and a half, to be exact), but our bellies weren't rumbling and we were working on a nice buzz, so we happily parked ourselves on a bench in the outdoor patio waiting area. Here's the great thing about this restaurant...they have a dedicated server that takes drink orders while you wait. Genius. It kept us content while we waited, and they easily moved it over to our bill at the table.

Once we did get seated on the covered outdoor area, it was hard to choose from the menu. Too many small plates sounded so good. This restaurant is designed for you to mix and match small plates to create a meal, so there are actually no entrees on the menu. We decided on a Pork Neck Bone Rillette and Mostarda from the Smears sections (I love the word smear.), three cheeses, and the highly recommended Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with mashed potatoes.
This pork shoulder was the best pork that I've ever had in my life. Michelle was quickly searching "milk braising" online. Again, do NOT miss this dish if you're dining at The Purple Pig. We both also really enjoyed the chilled rillette spread. Overall, it was a fantastic meal and reasonably priced for the quality. The only thing that I felt was a tad pricey was the cheese board. The build-your-own cheese plate at Cleveland's L'Albatros is cheaper, and better.

So, it was a memorable evening, filled with amazing eats and great company. I had a blast exploring these restaurants, and I'd go back to every single one of them. You never know with celebrity-owned restaurants, but the first two stops just didn't disappoint. The Purple Pig was by far my favorite, but all three were winners. This Twitter post sums up our meal accurately...
Thanks for a great time, Chicago, and some amazing meals. This Cleveland foodie is hooked, and I'm already planning my return visit. If Cleveland is my love, can Chicago be my mistress? What spots shouldn't I miss when we go back?

Siena Tavern
51 West Kinzie Street
Chicago, IL

RPM Italian
52 West Illinois Street
Chicago, IL

The Purple Pig
500 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL


Crystal @EatDrinkClev said...

Oh my! I'm totally drooling!! What a great night of food and fun. I have to say, the Coccoli are calling my name and sound worthy of a trip just to try them!!!!!! yum!

Collyn F. said...

Love an epic progressive meal! I need to get back to Chicago ASAP and try these spots. YUM.