Nov 112013
 

I recently had dinner with a former co-worker and we decided that we would each bring our significant others, who hadn’t met and didn’t know each other. Since I was the “restaurant expert”, it was up to me to pick a place that was convenient to downtown and at a decent price point. Easy enough.

An important factor in picking a restaurant on this occasion, for me, was conviviality. I wanted four of us to relax and be able to have a cross-table conversation instead of two of us rehashing shop talk while two ate. A great wine list or cocktail selection goes a long way to loosen things up, however, I knew that at least one person would not drink so that wasn’t a choice. Other wow factors like an interesting setting or gimmicky surroundings could also work, but I wanted the focus to be at the table.

The solution? Tapas. Specifically, Tavernita (151 W Erie Street).

After the introductions and switching tables so we could face each other, the four of us conquered the menu together, navigating our individual culinary quirks, and building a case for more hamachi and less eggplant & pepper crostini. It’s hard to stay in your shell when you’re dividing flatbreads or making a play for the last wagyu meatball. The conversation flowed back and forth as the steady stream of d papas fritos and serrano ham added new configurations to the table. Success!

In my opinion, tapas breaks down conversational lulls better than individual entrees. I’ll try it again the next time I’m mixing company. Have you had a tapas success story? Let me know the details!

Apr 152010
 
Spring peas, faro and mint | The Purple Pig

This lovely Spring medley was a welcome choice on the menu.

Despite being located near the Mag Mile, The Purple Pig is a welcome neighborhood-y addition to the area. There’s a lot for meat lovers to enjoy on this menu, but those seeking lighter fare won’t be disappointed either. Join us as we review our recent visit to Chicago’s latest pig-lovin’ establishment.

Chicago Bites (17.7 M)

Show Notes:
00:00 – 04:25 Location & “Pig Barrel” Ambiance
04:26 – 05:21 Who should go
05:22 – 07:25 Picking through the menus
07:26 – 09:37 Cured Meat and pacing
09:38 – 11:55 Faro and stinky cheese
11:56 – 14:09 Fried and grilled
14:10 – 16:47 Dessert
16:48 – 19:16 Ratings and sign-off

Salami | The Purple Pig

Cured meats are an excellent choice at this restaurant.

The Purple Pig
500 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-3777
(312) 464-1744
Get directions

Bridget’s Ratings Tammy’s Ratings
Food Quality 4 3
Value 4 4
Service 5 4
Ambiance 5 4
Overall 7 7

Price per person: $50

Related Chicago Bites reviews:
The Bristol
Publican

Online buzz about The Purple Pig:
Chicago Food Snob
Chicago Reader
The Cured Ham

What do you think of The Purple Pig? Drop @chicagobites a line on Twitter and let us know!

Piggy Bowls | The Purple Pig

Desserts are served in little piggy bowls.

We have more photos from The Purple Pig on Facebook.

Oct 062008
 
The baby squid and pasta combined to make a divine dish.

The baby squid and pasta combined to make a divine dish.

We had the opportunity to see Chef Jose Garces at Gourmet Chicago last week. We were so delighted by his cooking demonstration that we decided to drop by his restaurant for a sample of what he cooked up. The octopus was mighty tasty, but how did the other dishes stack up?

Download Chicago Bites (12.8 M)

Show Notes:
00:00 – 02:18 Dying to try the octopus
02:19 – 04:04 Other appetizers
04:05 – 05:03 Best mojitos evaaaaah
05:04 – 06:15 Getting to dinner and cheese
06:16 – 08:24 Baby squid and other horizontal delights
08:25 – 09:50 Dessert
09:51 – 12:00 The insides
12:01 – 13:56 Wrap-up and sign-off

Two preparations of baby octopus, one by Chef Jose Garces and the other by his restaurant on the right.

Two preparations of baby octopus, one by Chef Jose Garces and the other by his restaurant on the right.

Mercat a la planxa
638 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
Get directions

Bridget’s Ratings Tammy’s Ratings
Food Quality 4 4
Value 4 3
Service 3 3
Ambiance 4 3
Overall 8 7

Average price per person: $70

Online buzz about Mercat a la planxa:
Refined Palate
Sky full of Bacon
The Stew

Chef Jose Garces preparing octopus at Chicago Gourmet

Chef Jose Garces preparing octopus at Chicago Gourmet