Despite my dislike of goat (as documented), I am a huge fan of Stephanie Izard (yes, from Top Chef fame) and her cook book. So when I was in Chicago, I ran like the wind to go to Girl and the Goat. Actually, I called first. I always think it’s interesting to call restaurants, as sometimes they are so snooty when you don’t have reservations. Not here–a perky staff member answered the phone, happily telling me that I could grab a seat in the bar or lounge and enjoy the full dinner menu without reservations. Excellent.
That Cute Little Billy Goat
Stephanie’s cooking is really known for being accessible yet absolutely delicious with really interesting flavor combinations. At least, that’s why I like her cooking (and her cook book). She makes me want to cook, and–considering how much I hate following recipes–her book is great at giving me ideas of how to throw things together without feeling constrained by “what normally” works.
Well, it didn’t disappoint. I headed over before 4:30, because I wanted to walk from my hotel, but not after dark. There was a line of over 50 by the time the doors opened (at 4:30). And it was Sunday. I quickly grabbed a seat at the bar. All the bartenders know the food inside and out, so don’t think you will be “missing out” by enjoying your meal at the bar: they will chat with you about the menu to your heart’s content. There were tons of solo diners (we all had trouble deciding what to eat), and everyone was very friendly and just excited to be there trying the food.
The plates are shared, so as a single diner, I unfortunately couldn’t try quite as many things as I would have liked. However, all of the veggie dishes are available in half/mini portions, are as the deserts and 2 of the larger shared plates. Which is pretty awesome. Maybe I’ve been in DC-teensy-weensy-mini-plate-obsession-land for too long, but these mini portions were not that mini. They were just perfect for me, and I have a hearty appetite.
Even if you don’t want to read through what I ate, I’ll leave you with this tidbit of wisdom: if you are in Chicago, GO.
[It’s a great excuse for me to bring DH back to Chicago to try the newest addition to her restaurant line–the Chinese influenced Duck Duck Goat, which opens later this month.]
I started with the Kohlrabi Salad. It had fennel, toasted almonds, apples, and delicious shiitake mushrooms. And evalon. Which is a goat cheese (yea, go figure). I don’t like goat cheese anymore than I like goat, but it’s incredibly mild and mixed in with the other ingredients it blended well. Fine, so maybe all goat cheese shouldn’t be avoided.
Then came the baby octopus. It contains pretty much my favorite foods, all in one fantastic dish. Radishes (eh, these might be something fancier, but they are essentially radishes). Brussel sprouts. Baby octo. Lemon vinaigrette. Green beans. Pistachios. I want to make this at home. ASAP. It’s that good.
Last was the pork belly. With castelfranco (a sort of radicchio type species), sauce green (kale, basil, and all things green made into a delicious sauce), and gooseberries. The pork belly is cut vertically, instead of horizontally, meaning it is missing that layer of fat typically found on a pork belly. I actually found the meat equally succulent, without the annoying texture of the fat–it was a win-win for me. The pork belly was delicious, but I was definitely filling up at that point!
And desert… two of them, one courtesy of the kitchen. I moved over to accommodate two diners that wanted to sit together, and it was a nice gesture. The entire staff is big on making things right and tailoring your eating experience to things you will enjoy, but all in a very non-overwhelming way. It’s a refreshing change from DC, where good food is easy to find, but (perhaps the Midwestern) service is definitely lacking in may places, particularly those aiming to attract “foodies”.
The first was a chocolate truffle cake with peanut butter foam and gelato (delicious), the second one was a squash bread, with gelato and these fascinating little oatmeal-type nubbins that had just a little bit of spice. Both were great.
How Cute is This Little Board? And Those Nubbins…SO Good.
If I thought maybe I could get a seat again, it’s tempting to go back while I’m in Chicago to try some of the things I didn’t get to try this time around! Like the pig’s face…and scallops…mmmm, mmm.