Category Archives: 5 reasons why I love…

5 reasons why I love…The Purple Pig

Oh man, there really are so many more than 5, but categories are categories, so here goes it…
1. The menu. Sure there are plenty of small plates menus out there, but I love the variety and depth of Purple Pig’s. And by depth I mean you pretty much want one of everything, from seasonal antipasti like salt-roasted beets with whipped goat cheese, to sardines with shaved fennel salad, pork liver pâté smears, and milk-braised pork shoulder with mashed potatoes (a personal favorite), jamon serrano with oyster mushrooms and razor clams with oregano.
2. The vibe. So you might be just off Michigan Ave and steps from Nordstrom, but you have no idea once inside. The space remains intimate and cozy, and you don’t mind being just a few inches from you neighbors at the banquette, and the communal table and bar is always bustling. I also love the music—it’s loud enough to add the right amount of energy, and quiet enough for the server to still hear your order, plus it’s always awesomely random…ranging from Rush to Jay-Z.
3. Service. Always on point. The menu and wine list (also amazing!) are extensive and it’s great when you servers can help you choose a pairing for pig’s ears, decide among 7 enticing smears and make sure you didn’t miss the pork fried almonds with rosemary and garlic starter.
4. The dolci. Pig ear’d out or not, don’t skip dessert. Think hot espresso poured over toasted cinnamon gelato, a Sicilian Iris (ricotta with chocolate chip filled brioche) and Italian wedding cookies.
5. Turkey legs. A massive, sweet glazed one is on the spring menu and I tackled that thing (with a dining companion) like I was at Medieval Times and our knight was kicking some serious arena-ass. The Purple Pig, 500 N. Michigan Ave.

Peas and bacon with Pecorino and spearmint


Spring peas and faro with red pearl onions and feta


Sardines with shaved fennel salad and lemon vinaigrette


Razer clams with oregano, lemon and olive oil


Carrot salad with fig conserva


OMG...turkey leg.

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5 reasons why I love*…Arami

1. The menu. It’s the perfect combination of hot and cold dishes, donburi, nigiri, sashimi, fresh and simple makimono and best of all, steaming hot noodle bowls. 2. Anticipation for the 5-table outdoor patio in the tiny, foliage-filled space behind the dining room. 3. So, about those noodle bowls, did I mention they were delicious? arami ramen has thick slabs of pork belly, braised beef and an egg, kimchi ramen is a spicy, sinus-opening mix of tofu, pork belly egg, scallions, and veggie udon offers soy-braised daikon, mushrooms, eggplant, carrots, scallion and egg. 4. The presentation. So much attention to detail, lovely China (right down to the tea presentation), and nary a blade of plastic grass in sight. 5. It’s in my hood, of course. Arami, 1829 W. Chicago Ave., 312.243.1535

Sunomono salad at Arami


* aaaand one thing I don’t love…the place is tiny, popular and service can be slow, so anticipate a wait during prime dining hours or make a res.

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5 reasons why I love (Black Dog Gelato)

1. Sesame fig and chocolate chip gelato. Holy yum. How you can resist anything with the word “sesame”? Especially in a sweet and chocolate-chip laden application? Creamy, sweet and luscious, with the perfect fig flavor that lingers at the end of every bite and chocolate chips for crunch.

Sesame fig with chocolate chip at Black Dog Gelato


2. The rest of the flavors. I didn’t try them all (although they are generous with the samples), but the decadent goat cheese caramel cashew was also delicious, as was salted peanut (can you tell I am into the savory gelatos?)..but really you can’t go wrong with any of them.

An array of flavors...


3. Gelato cookie sandwiches. This one is vanilla gelato flanked by two oatmeal raisin cookies chilling in the sun before being devoured. They offer an array of rotating cookie sandwiches, as well as other fun treats like whiskey gelato bars rolled in bacon.

Oatmeal cookies and vanilla ice cream and a reflection


4. The hand-written thank you on the window from owner Jessie Oloroso. There doesn’t appear to be much signage yet, but this still drew me in..a sincere, genuine touch from a highly anticipated (and by the looks of the first weekend’s steady stream of customers), welcome neighborhood gelato spot.

Love the hand-written thank-you from the owner..


5. And other reasons why I love Black Dog? Two new wooden benches outside, hours until 11PM on weekends, hot pink walls, a warmer, cozier and more inviting use of the space than the previous Piccolo. Black Dog Gelato, 859 N. Damen, 773.235.3116

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