Memories of Chicago

Monday, May 21, 2012

I was going through our photo files and found a few pictures of Chicago that I wanted to share with you.  Right around this time last year, with a few months of residency left and  our major research projects finished, some of my friends and I headed to Chicago to celebrate.  I fell in love with Chicago architecture and food scene.  A few of our dining highlights included The Purple Pig, David Burke’s Primehouse, and L2O. 

The view from our condo.

It was really pretty at night, with all the buildings lit up.

For our first night in Chicago, we hit up The Purple Pig for dinner, located conveniently on the Magnificent Mile.  Recommended by a friend for its lively atmosphere and creative menu, we could not pass up the opportunity.  

With a group of seven, we ordered practically everything on the menu.  My 4 favorites of the night were Razor Clams with Oregano and Lemon & Olive Oil, Mussels with Pancetta and Crème Fraiche & Marjoram, Pork Blade Steak with ‘Nduja & Honey, and Steak and Mushrooms.  

 Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese & Pistachio Vinaigrette

Asparagus & Hazelnuts with Arugula & Treviso

 Octopus with Favette, Celery & Radishes

Purple Pig Platter for the charcuterie lover

Charred Cauliflower, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Cornichons & Parsley

Eggplant Caponata with Goat Cheese

The razor clams were grilled to perfection and left me wanting more even though my stomach was ready to explode.  The mussels were tender, moist, and flavorful.  Who would have thought a restaurant specializing in pork would have such amazing mussels! 

Pork Liver Pate

 Roasted Bone Marrow with Herbs

The pork blade was Vu’s favorite.  To this day, he has not found a piece of pork as perfect. The thickness was just right, and you can taste a hint of sweetness from the honey mixed in with the char.  

And the steak.  What can I say?  It was seasoned perfectly.  Besides a great selection of small dishes and entrees, they also have an extensive wine and beer collection.  Our pant buttons were just about to pop off so we skipped desserts.  To this day we have not found any restaurants like The Purple Pig.

Navy Pier

Deep dish pizza for lunch at Giordano's

The next night, we dined at David Burke’s Primehouse, known for its dry aged steak in a Himalayan rock salt room.  Our dinner started off with the Yorkshire pudding popovers.  Cheesy, warm, and delicious.  A perfect start.  We also ordered the Wagyu beef sashimi.  It was soooooo good!  I wish I had it all to myself.   

For dinner, everyone ordered the 55 day dry-aged ribeye.  As expected, it was juicy, cooked to perfection, and concentrated with flavor, but not as intense as I had expected.  However, for a whopping price of $63, I was not impressed.  Between you and me, I would rather have the steak from the Purple Pig.  For one third of the price, it tastes just as good minus the whole dry-aged deal.   

We ended the night with red velvet cake in a can and vanilla ice cream.  Our server even brought out the velvet cake batter for us to taste.  That was a fun part of dessert that was completely unexpected.  It was a very enjoyable dinner, but at a steep price.  

The Bean at Millennium Park

Our last dinner in Chicago was at L2O.  The night started off with amuse-bouches of salmon mousse and mini lobster roll.  The lobster roll was such a teaser.  About the size of my thumb, I was wishing it was a full-sized lobster roll.   

Our servers presented a selection of freshly baked bread and homemade butter but we skipped most of it.  The highlights of the night were the foie gras with pickled rhubarb, poached lobster, and shabu shabu.   

The foie gras was the best I have ever tasted.  It was creamy, rich, and seared perfectly.   

Avocado Hut with Crab and Apple Jelly

Seared Scallops 

The Maine lobster was juicy and delicious.  The peas and other vegetables were unnecessary.  Just lobster would have been fine!  

 Uni and caviar

As for the shabu shabu, the scallops, shrimps, fish, and lobster were so fresh and sweet that I ate most of it raw.  That defeated the purpose of shabu shabu but I didn’t want to waste such fine seafood. 

And finally, for dessert, Vu and I were blown away by the manjari chocolate egg filled with salted caramel, a hint of coffee, and malt snow.  We have never had such a unique dessert.  It was fun to eat!  

You crack the egg and dig out the salted caramel, mix it with some malt snow, and get ready to be blown away by the combination of flavor.   


As if we were not stuffed enough, our servers sent us off with chocolate cake and bonbon.  By far, this was one of the best dinners we have ever had.  Despite the weather being unkind and many of our activities cancelled, we had a great time in Chicago.  The dining experiences made our trip worthwhile.  We cannot wait to visit Chicago again!


  1. Love it! I live in Chicago and actually work down there. Such a fun post.

  2. aww, I'm jealous! So many great restaurants in Chicago. Both my husband and I love Chicago, probably more than New York! We cannot wait to go back but it will probably be at least a year. Do you have any must try restaurants?