Many of my friends have been to Girl and the Goat – some loved it, raving about the combinations of food and ingredients and how chef Stephanie Izard composes the dishes. Others thought it was overblown and didn’t live up to the hype.
One thing is for certain – Girl and the Goat is one of the busiest restaurants in the Windy City right now, with reservations accepted only months in advance. We went there for my birthday earlier this month – our reservation was made back in July. So I’d heard the debate – how great is Girl and and the Goat? Really? Imaginative and out of this world? Or bombastic and overblown? (Yeah I used the term ‘bombastic’ – look it up on thesaurus.com. Boo-ya! And I totally just used the term ‘Boo-ya’ as well. Welcome back to 2005!)
A few years after the term ‘boo-ya’ gained in popularity, in 2008, Stephanie Izard won the Top Chef cooking show challenge on BravoTV. Now she’s the chef and co-partner of Girl and the Goat. Cooking show challenges normally drive me to tears, but after eating at GATG, I have to say I feel like I have a new-found respect.
The restaurant itself was casual, with a minimal decor and high-energy – probably because every table was full and the bar was packed. The restaurant space feels like a converted loft with lots of concrete, exposed wood and a goat theme throughout – Fun! When the hostess took us to the back of the restaurant and seated us at one of the 2 chef’s tables by the kitchen – I was completely blown away! I thought it was pre-arranged, but no. They just knew it was my birthday and wanted to do something special – how great is that?!
So we were seated right up on the kitchen line, allowing us to see everything in action. The staff was super-friendly, answering all our questions and providing a lot of insight into how things worked. They even surprised us with a couple of tasty treats from the menu as well!
Everything on the menu is smaller plates that are meant to be shared and divided between vegetables, fish and meats. The first treat they offered up to was some oysters – they were delicious.
I ordered the pig face and goat belly – which were exactly what they sound like. And they were amazing delicious. The pig face was a bit greasy – but it was also served with an over-easy egg on top, and it’s pork so what do you expect? The saltiness of the pork was cut with a drizzlings of a maple coulis, tamarind and cilantro sauces and served with tiny potato sticks. Ah. Maz. Ing.
The braised goat belly was served with chunks of lobster was tender and hearty and reminded of top roast, or even wild boar I’ve had before. Very savory and very filling. Yumsters.
Our guys in the kitchen also surprised us next with some chickpea fritters – lightly fried wedges served with this delicious fresh mozzarella cheese and an eggplant and tomatilla camponata. It was almost like a thicker, almost-jam-like relish topping – only infinity-times more delicious than any jam!
We also shared a HUGE portion of roasted cauliflower, served up pickled peppers, pine nuts and popped with fresh mint. “Almost Paradise” from Footloose started playing in my head when I first tasted this.
The desserts all seemed a little less on the sweet side. We opted to split the goat cheese bavarois – which was layered over little chunks of spice cake and a blueberry compote on the bottom, all drizzled with a salty caramel topping. Forget “Almost Paradise” – this was Paradise, okay-den!? I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the dessert – we ate that down so fast, it was Goodbye Charlie!
What a great experience – from the chef’s table to the amazing menu to the attentive service. Our server was helpful and witty and was able to recommend great things for us. Definitely made for a memorable experience my first time there – one I won’t soon forget, okay-den!?
Izard has been quoted as saying she just wants to make your whole mouth happy. In that with each dish “you want to find the right balance of savory, sweet, salty and even a little spice. When all of your taste buds are utilized, the experience is heightened, more memorable.” All the dishes we tried seemed to strike this great balance of otherwise contrasting flavors. Girl and the Goat lives up to it’s hype – and a whole lot more!
- Name – Girl and the Goat
- Neighborhood – West Loop
- Where – 809 W Randolph St
- Phone – (312) 492-6262
- Meals – Dinner
- Hours – Take whatever reservation you can get!
- Attire – Upscale Casual