CHICAGO — Nothing says love quite like eating a pig's head.
Matt Troost, the chef at Three Aces, 1321 W. Taylor St., will serve roasted pig head for sharing on Valentine's Day.
The $48 special, actually half a head, comes with blood sausage, braised cabbage, spaetzle and a scallion-and-herb salad to cut through all that fat. It serves two. Since tweeting about it last weekend, Troost has booked two orders for it.
Troost had a customer in mind when he came up with the dish.
"A couple of years ago, we had a guy on Valentine's Day who asked us to bring out a flaming pig skull for his wife," he said.
Troost uses every bit of meat off the pigs he gets from Slagel Family Farm in Fairbury, Ill., and usually has extra skulls laying around in the kitchen, so fulfilling the diner's request wasn't a problem.
"We took high-proof alcohol, doused it and set it on fire. It was a special moment for them. ... So apparently, we have clients who go for this stuff."
Eating a pig's head is something of a primal experience. There's meat to be ripped off the jowl and around the eye.
"The servers will take a second to explain where to find all the good meat," Troost said.
It may not be for the faint of heart — but if it's the pig's heart you and your sweetie are hankering for, you can get that at Atwood, 1 W. Washington St.
Atwood chef Derek Simcik is preparing the pig heart pastrami-style, "a play on the classic Reuben sandwich," he said.
After a few days of marinating the hearts, Simcik will apply a rub and slowly roast them. He'll serve thin slices of the heart with pork sausage, caraway spaetzle and endive marmalade.
The dish is part of a four-course "Beats of the Heart" menu ($55) available Friday through Sunday at Atwood.
"If you can overcome the mental block of eating a heart, I bet you will be surprised by how delicious it is," Simcik said.
In keeping with the heart theme, Kabocha, 952 W. Lake St., is serving beef heart tartare as part of its six-course Valentine's dinner on Friday and Saturday. It's a bittersweet gesture — the restaurant announced it is closing after dinner service on Saturday.
And then there's the "Jaded Hearts" dinner at EL Ideas, 2419 W. 14th St.
The meal will cater to those unlucky in love, with an accompanying playlist for the 16-seat restaurant of "only songs about cheap sex and breaking up (nothing mushy)," the restaurant's website read.
Chef and owner Phillip Foss won't divulge the full menu but said "we will be allowing the guest to stick a skewer through a heart" — likely a lamb heart.
He's working on a dessert to be served "inside an ice cream pint container with a box of tissues on the side."
The dinner at EL Ideas is on Feb. 20, not Valentine's Day.