Thursday, May 29, 2014

Road Trip: Girl and the Goat --Chicago

Because we were lucky enough to know we were going to Next way in advance, I took advantage of the opportunity to make reservations at Girl and the Goat as well. Since we were planning so far ahead for Next, I was able to score a reservation at 7:00 on a Friday (you can book up to 6 months ahead if you’re planning).

This place has quite the buzz—definitely a pretty loud and raucous place, particularly near the bar, where we started. It’s a big place and the sound carries. Once we were seated at our table though, it wasn’t too bad—and I liked the tables weren’t totally on top of each other so we could still have a conversation with our friends. 

The menu is small plates and is divided up by veggies, seafood, meat and then a separate menu with the goat items.  We agreed to get several from each. We went a little heavier on the veg and lighter seafood stuff after our richness extravaganza at Next the night before. You have to decide everything you want at the beginning and then they pace them out—they recommended 2 items per person, but if you’re going with less of the meat (which are certainly larger), I recommend 3. (We also didn’t order bread, which might have filled us up more, but like I said we were trying to avoid that. They have 3-4 different bread options.).

The first thing we received was the Hamachi with crispy pork belly, chili aioli and caper berries ($16). I really enjoyed this dish, although it was pretty small to share with four. I liked all the mix of the salty pork (super crunchy little pork croutons), the creaminess of the aioli and the briny caper berries. If anything, the Hamachi might have been lost a bit in the flavors, but it was melt in your mouth tender.

Next we got spring onion pot stickers (ok, from here on out, I can’t remember the prices, but most things were between $7 and $18). These were really good as well. They had lots of spring onions as well as white asparagus and I loved the tangy kick from the rhubarb sauce.

I’d say my (and I think the table’s) least favorite item were the shisito Peppers ($7). These were pan-fried and topped with Parmesan cheese. There were a few that were slightly spicier than others, but on the whole, they were fairly mild. I don’t know, there just wasn’t much more to them other than crunchy bits of cheese on top. I would take a pass. They just didn’t have the variation of flavors that some of the other dishes had.

Next we got the seared tuna. Now I like tuna most ways, but this was super delicious, probably my favorite thing of the evening. I easily could have eaten the whole thing by myself. It was served with a crema, ramp chimichurri and these wonderful little fried slices of garlic. Again, perfectly balanced. And that tuna, again, melted in your mouth.

The next dish was the goat empanadas. We definitely felt like we needed some goat item since it’s the name of the place. It was shredded slow cooked meat inside the flaky empanadas. They were topped with julienned apples and pickled golden beets and marinated sheep feta and served on top of tzatziki. Again, I am a fan of anything in pastry, but what made this dish special was the balance of flavors with the vinegary pickled items, the sweet apples and the tangy tzatziki and feta. It gave it a slightly Greek flavor, but wasn’t limited to only Greek flavors.

We also had the pig face, because it is one of the iconic Girl and the Goat dishes. The pork (underneath the egg) is wood roasted and the dish is served with crispy potato sticks, red wine maple sauce, tamarind and cilantro. And of course that perfect sunny-side up egg draped across the top.

The roasted broccoli was tasty—it had a really nice smoky wood-fired taste and little crispy bits (I think it was toasted rice actually). It was nice to have some veggies amongst the heavier main dishes. Speaking of which, our last savory dish was the crisp braised pork shank—they brought it out on the bone and you just sort of pulled the meat off- I liked they gave you a couple of sauces to put on your nan that was served alongside—there was a smoky buffalo sauce and a creamy, cooling Buttermilk dressing. There was also a nice little helping of roasted green onion kimchi on the side. We probably could have used a little more bread for all this meat, but we enjoyed it.
As for our sweets, we split a couple. There was coffee cake semi fredo with grapefruit and cocoa nibs and plantain cake with cream cheese chocolate chip gelato with passion fruit and left hand milk stout. I liked the way they mixed some strong fruity zip with the typical richness of the pure sweetness. Honestly though, I found the savory dishes more interesting.

I really enjoyed Girl and the Goat—I love the small plates concept and I would love to go back and taste a bunch more things. I just have to plan ahead enough to make sure I get a reservation.

Girl and the Goat
809 W. Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60607

Girl & the Goat on Urbanspoon

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