The Purple Pig In Pictures

Last night, Jim and I drove into the city to meet up with someone I became friends with in eighth grade (C), and his wife (K). We’ve kept in touch all these years and faithfully send holiday cards to each other every December, but we haven’t actually gotten together in twelve years. Or thirteen. We couldn’t figure it out.

I was thrilled when C messaged me a few weeks ago to tell me that they would be in town for a wedding and would love to see us, and that’s how we ended up at The Purple Pig on Michigan Avenue last night. We had a great time.

I hadn’t ever dined at The Purple Pig before, and was excited to go. We loved it. It was busy, noisy, and there was something awesome to see no matter where I looked.

It’s for that reason (and one more, which I’ll get to in a minute) that I developed a slight case of the virtual shakes after promising myself that I was going to stay off of Instagram and other platforms while we were with these friends. I was going to one-hundred-percent focus on who was in front of me and just grab a picture of the four of us at the end of the evening.

It was tough. I mean, we were seated near the kitchen, which was a beehive of activity. And the food we ordered was SO PRETTY. And…well. Sigh.

There was one more reason why I kept my phone in my purse for the entire evening. I had just read the article about the restaurant whose management looked at current surveillance and surveillance tapes from ten years ago and they made the discovery that people messing with their cell phones delays pretty much everything in restaurants and…well, you can read it here.

So in mentioning how hard it was for me to sit there and not take ONE PICTURE, I joked that I was going to commit everything to memory and draw it all up later. We all laughed about it and then a split second later I was mentally commending myself for coming up with today’s blog post, even though I am terrible at drawing. Like, really bad.

Still, without further ado, here’s my experience at The Purple Pig, nineteenth century-style.

The entryway is on Michigan Avenue, and you can easily walk by it if you’re not careful. I love the gate!

Purple Pig Chicago

One wall had a listing of their available cheeses and some really awesome quotes. Sorry; I couldn’t remember any of them. The square pendant lamps were really pretty.

Purple Pig Chicago Wall decor

As I mentioned, we were seated near the kitchen. It was pretty cool. Many of the chefs wore branded headbands and looked pretty bad-ass. By the way, there were people sitting in those barstools—the restaurant was packed the entire time we were there—but I left them out of the picture so you could better see the kitchen. (I couldn’t do THAT with a camera. Take that, technology!)

Purple Pig Chicago kitchen

We were seated at a long community table, which was pretty cool, especially when the people on either side of us made food recommendations for the small plates we were considering. I feel terrible that I couldn’t draw C and K better; I had to change Sharpies and they (especially C) got a little smudgy. They are way more attractive than that in real life. Again, I didn’t draw the people on my side of the table for clarity’s sake.

Purple Pig Chicago community table

And finally, the food. Wow. It was amazing. There wasn’t anything we ordered that I didn’t like. I ended up drawing the first four dishes that I could remember, and I’ll have you know that while Jim chuckled on his way out the door this morning because I was drawing pictures, he DID indeed recognize that #! was the fried Manchego cheese with membrillo, #2 was the roasted bone marrow with herbs, #3 was the charred cauliflower with toasted breadcrumbs, cornichons & parsley, #4 was the salt-roasted beets, whipped goat cheese & pistachio vinaigrette, and #5 was my “Don Draper” glass of rum and Coke. So I guess I’m not too bad at this drawing thing after all.

Purple Pig Chicago menu items

Most importantly, we had a great time. It’s pretty rare to see someone after twelve years (okay, or thirteen) and just pick right back up with easy conversation and lots of laughs, and we did just that. I can’t wait for the next visit. I think I’ll buy some colored pencils for that one.


  • Grandma W

    Was C who was in the group you went to Germany with? Soundsike a great evening.
    It is good to keep up with old friend.
    Grandma W

  • Stephanie Precourt

    Too funny! I ate there last year at BlogHer super late after the open mic and it was probably the best meal I ate in all of 2013! I love your drawings lol and also have thought a lot about that article. You are so adorable.


    • Melisa Wells

      I didn’t want to be the jerk who was posting pictures of my restaurant food when that article was being wildly shared. LOL!

      And Purple Pig = SOOOOOO GOOD. Definitely going back!

  • Shannon

    I have never been there, but I really want to go now. They should hire you for advertising – in the art department, of course.

    • Melisa Wells

      I have to admit it was very fun AND it only took about ten minutes to draw them, which saved me about an hour in photo editing and watermarking. So there’s that, too. 🙂

  • Samantha

    That last picture really captures just how amazing the food was! I mean, in #4, you can really tell how whipped that goat cheese was. Well done.

    And flipping hilarious.

    • Melisa Wells

      Thank you! You should go with me next time and we’ll take some sketch pads and colored markers.

  • Aussa Lorens

    Oh my gosh, this is a brilliant idea! I love it. I kind of want to steal it. I think this should be a “thing.” Like how people do Meatless Monday, you could go out for Phoneless Friday… Yes. Let’s start a revolution.

  • Quirky Chrissy

    I would do a Phoneless Friday picture-drawing with you and Aussa…though ya both would put me to SHAME.

    That being said, Brian and I went to the Purple Pig a few months ago. The fried manchego WAS superb. I didn’t try any of the other things you had, but the kale caesar and braised pork shoulder were delish.

    • Melisa Wells

      I could live on the fried manchego. Well for a while until my health suffered. But FOR A WHILE! 🙂

  • Don Royster

    The thing that struck me about your evening was how little time you gave to catching up with your friend. And the battle you had with yourself over trying not to take pictures. Sometimes when my significant other goes out of town to visit family I will go out to eat. I am struck at how many couples are on their cells instead of just enjoying the company of the other. Seems to me we have become a society of people taking pictures so they will remember what they didn’t talk about. All the missed opportunities to make a deeper connection with the other person. More than anything else I find this sad. How we have given up just enjoying another person’s company without technology.

    • Melisa Wells

      Actually Don, that was the whole point. I DID spend the evening catching up with my friends. I kept my phone in my purse the entire time! Hence the terribly-drawn pictures your eyes were subjected to. 🙂