i was browsing through some restaurant reviews on timeout chicago and found one on my recent dining experience: girl & the goat.
i have to admit, this was probably one of the most exciting food anticipations i've endured since i've heard about this restaurant from my friend. so i made reservations a month in advance for when ryan comes to chicago and even with that, i was only left with the options of a late 10 pm dinner on saturday night or 4:45 pm on sunday evening. eek...latter it was! (even though it's so early for dinner)
one of my friend's remark when i told him about my 4:45pm dinner was along the lines of me becoming a senior citizen hunting for early bird specials...
smart ass. -.-
i didn't have much of a choice and i wanted to go no matter what!
girl & the goat, which opened in summer 2010, is the brainchild of stephanie izard, top chef season four winner who has established quite a huge following here in chicago. girl & the goat wasn't always known as that though, its original name was "drunken goat" and to know the reason, you can read it all about it here. from her blog which i found by chance, she seems to be a down-to-earth and friendly person. but i'd have to say the best part about the blog are the recipes!! hopefully i'll be trying them out in my kitchen sometime :)
located in west loop, finding a parking spot wasn't too much of a challenge. perhaps it's because it was still too early for the dinner rush.
as we walked in, it was reassuring to know that we weren't the only ones there. i loved the decor which is cozy but at the same time classy in an unpretentious way. contemporary rustic would be the word for it. i felt at ease and comfortable as i looked at their seasonal menu that changes periodically.
there are some limited seats at the counter where you can watch them prep your food which i would love to have view but there weren't any available. sad face.
our server, marnie, was really friendly and knowledgable about the menu. generally, it is recommended to have 2-3 plates per person since the dishes are mainly small plates similar to the purple pig. as usual, i've done my research on yelp to figure out what are must try's so i have some ideas as to what to order.
we ordered six small plates including freshly made bread that yelpers raved about.
nutty apple smack bread | ginger butter . apple oil ($4)
the bread was warm when it got to our table. as i reached to get the first slice off the loaf, i could hear crunch of the crust.. mmm.. and guess what is the nutty part of the bread - pistachios! <3
the insides are soft and is slightly sweet with a subtle apple flavor. i like the pistachios running through the bread to give that earthiness and the occasional crunch which echoes the crispness of the crust. as paula deen constantly reminds us, everything is better with butter - this was not any different. the butter added the slight richness to each bite. unlike ryan, i had trouble tasting the ginger in the butter. the apple oil has a concentrated apple flavor if you'd like more of an apple punch.
wood fired wiley points | horseradish aioli ($13)
okay truth: i don't like raw oysters. however, when i saw the words wood fired next to wiley points oysters, i knew we had to order a serving of these to see how good these. these lil gems were steaming when they arrived the table. even the shells were really hot so i had to be extra cautious to scoop the oysters with the fork.
the oyster was gently cooked that it still retains that burst of fresh brininess when you bite into it. <33 this is then topped with the light horseradish aioli which didn't overpower the natural sweetness of the oysters. definitely a delicate balance done well. these were definitely lil bites of awesomeness. so good that we ordered a second plate of these. :)
roasted beets | haricot verts . white anchovy . avacado creme fraiche ($9)
since my first taste of beets at the purple pig, beets has joined the ranks of my favorite vegetables. and i couldn't pass on comparing this roasted beet salad with the one from purple pig. girl & the goat took an entirely different approach to these roasted beets. the salad were lightly dressed and the haricot vert were cooked through but still have their crunch. the best bites are the ones with the white anchovy which contributed a different kind of saltiness which i love. i don't get why people dislike anchovies cos they are really yummy. the crunch of the microgreens and haricot verts, the sweetness of the beets, creaminess and slight tartness of the avacado creme fraiche which are completed by the saltiness of the anchovy make this a well rounded salad imo. :)
hiramasa crudo | crisp pork belly . aji aioli . caperberries ($14)
such a dainty looking dish. i've read good things about this dish and i like raw fish so it's a good deal. the hiramasa has a mild flavor and tasted really fresh. in order to get the full effect of all the ingredients, i had to get everything in one huge bite.
the pork belly were really crisp but not oily which is great. the pork belly has that crispy texture that contrasts the fish slice paired with the slight tartness of the caperberries and the citrus slice. in fact, the pork belly gives it the saltiness and the slight richness that the fish needs. a well composed dish :)
seared scallops | pumpkin brandade . pecans . fried brussel sprouts . tarragon . pomegranate ($16)
this was a dish of beauty. this was a dish with complex flavor but so well put together! one wonderfully cooked and seasoned fresh scallop each for both of us. the sweetness of the scallop which enhanced by the pumpkin brandade and cherry tomatoes is complimented by the yummy fried brussel sprouts and the earthiness of the pecan. each bite promised so many layers of flavor which made such an amazing experience for the taste buds. the scallops were cooked and seared perfectly, preserving its delicate texture and it had a tasty concentrated flavors on the crusts. this was probably my favorite dish of the night. yummeh!
wood oven roasted pig face | sunny side egg . tamarind . cilantro . potato stix ($16)
although the dish sounds quite revolting (c'mon pig face? i was imagining some kind of pig face placed on the dish and honestly i was a lil afraid..hahah), it was the dish we have both been waiting for. this was probably one of the most popular dishes at girl & the goat which is highly recommended by yelpers.
overall, this is a really rich dish - the pig face is a very fatty piece of meat where its richness is reiterated by the yolk and the crispy potato stix. this is balanced by the tanginess of the tamarind sauce and the freshness of the cilantro. this was a lil rich for me but ryan loved this dish and was his favorite pick of the night.
bittersweet chocolate | shiitake gelato . toffee creme fraiche ($8)
although we were close to being stuffed, we were mindful to save some room for dessert. it sounded interesting and you can't really go wrong with chocolate. the chocolate dessert is a decadent brownie which had a bitter undertone and the gelato is a sweet refreshing breather in between every rich chocolate bite. you might say, 'wait...what do u mean by shiitake gelato?'.. well to be honest, i dunno cos i couldn't really distinguish the flavor of the gelato cos when i read shiitake gelato, that totally caught my attention too. the toffee creme fraiche was sweet but at the same time tangy. i'd have to say the dessert was probably the least memorable part of the meal although pretty good.
at the end of the meal, we realized we spent two and a half hours at the girl & the goat.
girl & the goat is probably one of my most enjoyable dining experience in chicago. to describe it in a phrase: unpretentious delicious gourmet food that are meant to be shared in a cozy setting. i loved it so much that i am trying to make reservations for my second visit once i've decided on when. but be warned, we splurged quite a bit at the end of the night but it was well worth it.
i found an interesting qoute from the timeout chicago review on this restaurant which totally summarizes my thoughts in a nutshell:
"so it turns out that goat isn’t really an important part of this restaurant after all—it’s all about the girl who comes before it."
thank you, stephanie izard for such a fantastic dining experience :)
all i can say is, 'nom nom nom!'
disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others