Sunday dinners were once an honored tradition. Family and friends would gather around a table and enjoy each other’s company over a special spread. But even Sundays get caught up in the hustle of the work week these days. Meals like that take significant preparation, and who has time for that?
To preserve that Sunday ritual of food and relaxation, Mercat a la Planxa takes care of the hard part for you with their Suckling Pig Sunday Suppers. The Barcelona-inspired tapas restaurant in South Loop offers a tasting menu each week, featuring a main course of succulent roasted pork as well as a selection of delicious appetizers and perfectly matched sides. The four courses are served family-style with optional craft beer pairings, promoting the cozy feeling of a traditional family supper.
The Sunday Suppers usually focus on pigs around 30 to 45 pounds. However, on the Sunday of this writer’s visit, the pig in question was very special indeed. The 190-pound whopper was provided by Faith Farm, a local farm well-known for its ethical and loving treatment of its animals. Handled with care by chef de cuisine Cory Morris and his team, the pork was the star of a sumptuous show.
Appetizers laid the groundwork for the decadent meal. Crispy croquettes exploded with salty Serrano ham and chorizo, offset by tangy romesco sauce. Thin, silky slices of pork shoulder were accompanies by mustard and crispy pickles. Manchego cheese seemed a simple offering, but topped with a rosemary-peach jam, it immediately vaulted to great heights.
A second course was a savory delight. Bacon-wrapped dates, a fashionable dish of late, were given a surprise crunch by almonds hidden in the middle. What sounded like a simple shortbread was topped with mouthwatering braised short ribs that made every bite worth savoring.
It was the pork that the table was craving, however. It came on a platter displaying cuts of all kinds, from velvety pork belly to shredded shoulder. Sauces and delectable sides, such as the rosemary and truffle white beans, were great additions. The pork easily stood on its own, though, with the loin cut earning a unanimous vote for best bite of the night.
Dessert was a neat closer as it mirrored the first dish; this time the croquettes held warm chocolate and were nestled in a perfectly textured banana marshmallow. Caramel infused with rosemary balanced the sweet, ending the supper on a perfect note.
A long, lingering dinner can be hard to make room for in a busy schedule, but you’ll definitely want to clear some time for the Sunday Supper at Mercat a la Planxa. At just $45 for the four courses, every member of your party can come away satisfied.