Critically acclaimed chef and owner Jimmy Bannos, Sr. has been pleasing Chicago diners with Heaven on Seven for almost 30 years. Well, the son also rises. Jimmy Bannos Jr. is carving out a name for himself with one of the Magnificent Mile's hottest restaurants.
It’s tucked away right off Michigan Avenue that's generating a lot of buzz for, among other things, its name -- The Purple Pig. What’s getting even more buzz, though, is the guy behind the name.
Bannos’ very first restaurant is a huge hit.
"Right off the bat like, 'boom,' started it just kept getting busier and busier," The Purple Pig Chef/Partner Bannos said.
Bannos makes it look easy. In a town that takes its food seriously, he's one seriously good chef. In fact, he’s been named over and over as one of Chicago’s rising stars.
Bon Appétit magazine just named The Purple Pig one of the top ten best new restaurants in the country.
The menu houses a variety of small sharing plates that are reasonably priced. And, of course, living up to its name, there’s a lot of swine and wine on the menu.
But this is no regular pig roast! They use snout to tail – just about every part of the pig.
"Braised pig tails… shoulder... belly... feet... the tongue," Bannos said.
But Bannos cooks it up in a way diners wouldn't expect and probably have never seen before.
Not all the dishes come from a pig, though. Some are vegetarian.
Just looking at the menu, it’s hard to know what's coming to your table.
"It's just getting past the idea that pigs ears are fried,” one patron said. “What doesn't taste good fried?!”
"That's the fun part,” Bannos said. “We're taking undesirable parts and challenging (the norm), making them good. We take more pride in that."
There's a lot of pride that goes into The Purple Pig and though he's a seriously good chef, the establishment doesn't take itself too seriously here. Even arriving at the name -- The Purple Pig -- is a fun story.
"My dad came up with the name before we broke ground,” Bannos explained. “He said, ‘If a pig drinks red wine, he'll turn purple.’” (And no, he hadn’t been drinking, Bannos said.)