Girl & the Goat: A Love Story

October 30, 2011

I had heard great things about Top Chef Stephanie Izard's Girl & the Goat
restaurant ever since it opened last year. Knowing I would have to wait months
to reserve a table, I jumped at the opportunity for dinner at G & the G when a
friend let me piggyback on her reservation. I was beyond excited and ready to
see what all the hype was about.
We had a 6:45 pm reservation on a Tuesday night and the place was packed,
as to be expected. Unfortunately, we had to wait nearly 25 minutes for our table
due to "people lingering" at the end of their meals. This was painful especially
when the sights and smells were tempting our already-hungry bellies. We were
finally seated by the general manager who also offered some appetizers on the
house to make amends for the hefty wait.
If you're not familiar, the menu at Girl & the Goat is divided into three sections:
V (vegetables), F (fish) and M (meat). All dishes are small plates meant to be
shared and this menu was also supplemented with a list of homemade breads,
specialty oysters and goat-related items.

Dei aka vino
We started with a bottle of red wine-- I'm not sure what kind as I didn't choose it but it was medium-bodied and great with the food (this is a food blog, not a 
wine blog!) We were starving so we ordered the first of the specialty breads, 
the "not campbell's" bread which featured mushroom soup butter and tomato 
soup oil. The bread itself had cheese baked inside so when dipped in the 
tomato soup oil, you had what tasted like a deliciously gooey grilled cheese 
sandwich. Delightful! Pay for the bread!

Housemade bread with mushroom soup butter & tomato soup oil

Next we tried one of the offered oysters which were grilled and delicious. They came four to an order and were literally the most gigantic oysters I have ever seen. They must have weighed a pound each! It was interesting to eat a warm oyster but they were fresh and tasty.

Sauteed green beans with fish sauce vinaigrette and cashews

We each chose two dishes and for a party of four, that was plenty of food. You always tend to over-order at small plates restaurants! We tried the sauteed green beans with a fish sauce that also had a nice nutty flavor from cashews. Another vegetable dish that arrived was the chickpea fritters. This was by-far my favorite dish of the evening for its amazing texture and burst of interesting flavors. Two miniature chickpea fritters sat atop two generous slices of fresh mozzarella and were topped with grilled chickpeas and eggplant. When bitten into, these fried nuggets tasted similar to a spanish croqueta.

Chickpea fritters with eggplant-tomatillo caponata and fresh mozzarella

Close-up of the fritter and mozzarella
Another vegetable dish we tried was the roasted cauliflower I had heard so much about from others who had been to G & the G. I think this dish had the most interesting combination of flavors with the nutty flavor of pine nuts and the sharp flavor of mint. The vinegar from the pickled peppers in the dish were balanced by the mint leaves. In my opinion, if you can make cauliflower taste good, then you have a great thing going!

Roasted cauliflower with picked peppers, pine nuts and mint
I  had a craving for seafood so I ordered the pot of steamed mussels. As if I thought the oysters were huge, the size of the mussels were like their bigger, older brother. I was impressed with the amount of mussels served due to their gigantic size. The mussels were in what I presumed to be a white wine broth, with cilantro. I wish I had more of that awesome bread to soak up the broth. There were also two croutons mixed in made from goat sausage. These were intense in flavor and saltiness but complemented the mussels rather nicely. I ended up eating nearly all of those mussels, and I couldn't have been any happier.

Steamed mussels with goat sausage croutons, cilantro and caesar

Close-up of the gigantic mussels

Smoked goat rillette empanadas
Another one of the items I chose were the smoked goat empanadas, off the "Goat" section of the supplemental menu. I wasn't impressed with the outer shell of the empanada which I found to be rather greasy and over-fried, however, I thought the goat meat inside was tasty and an interesting texture. Not my favorite plate, but not bland either.

Wood fired Walter's Chicken with yuzu harissa, fried pickles, brussel slaw and grilled naan
Close-up of Walter's chicken
Some of the main course plates began to arrive, starting with the roasted half chicken. I couldn't believe the size of the chicken and accompaniments. The chicken had an interesting sweet flavor, similar to a teriyaki sauce, and the meat was tender and juicy. The accompaniments included grilled naan bread and fried baby pickles (yum!) which I dipped into the spicy sauces. The folks at Girl & the Goat managed to turn a potentially dull dish into a ridiculously flavorful one. This meat dish was a favorite among our table.

Kalbi style beef ribs with grilled sweet potatoes and charred okra
We had two types of ribs, the first being beef ribs which were thinly sliced and looked similar to miniature legs of lamb. I thought the meat was a bit tough and chewy so I wasn't too pleased with this plate but found it interesting as it was covered in grilled okra.

Grilled baby octopus with wax beans, romano beans, radish, pistachio-lemon vinaigrette
The grilled baby octopus arrived next, however, I did not try it so I'm not sure how it was. I can tell you there was not much left, so it had to be quite tasty!

Grilled pork ribs with tomatillo-mushroom slaw, grilled scallion vinaigrette
The second of the rib plates arrived on a plank atop a slaw and covered in a spicy scallion drizzle. In my attempt to move a rib from plank to plate, the meat completely fell off the bone, to my pleasant surprise. The meat was so incredibly tender and well-seasoned, I wanted to lick every last piece from the bone. I can't remember the last time I had such well-cooked ribs!

Doughnuts with honey yogurt, caramelized figs, lemony eggplant and potato chip streusel
Since we were still starving (not!), we decided to check out the dessert menu. There were only four options, however, each sounded equally amazing and I must have asked our server to describe them three times. Although it was a hard decision, I selected the dougnuts, over such options as the bourbon apples, chocolate foie gras fluff (yes!) and a pear wonton. Three mini doughnut holes were atop a drizzle of honey yogurt and crispy potato chip streusel. The doughnuts themselves were not very sweet and tasted more bread-like than doughnut-like. A few caramelized figs were included, however I wasn't a fan of their burnt flavor. Maybe this wasn't the best dessert option but who can resist a doughnut?

Berry sorbet
We also had a scoop of berry sorbet, although I didn't have a chance to taste it myself!

Overall, a dinner at Girl & the Goat is definitely worth the wait for a reservation. I recommend keeping an open mind when ordering and trying something you may never get the chance to elsewhere. What I love most about this restaurant is their ability to pair so many unique flavors together and their attention to detail. Each dish had its own amazing flavors and appearance and you could tell no detail was overlooked. I also recommend going with a group so you are able to try many small plates in one sitting. The menu is ever-changing so one visit will undoubtedly be different from the next.

Girl & the Goat gets 4.5 stars for their creative small plates, impeccable service, and its ability to churn out the most interesting flavor combinations.

809 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60607-2310
(312) 492-6262

Girl & the Goat on Urbanspoon

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