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Feast Chicago: Girl and the Goat

March 19, 2012

picture taken from girl and the goat website

When Stephanie Izard was on Top Chef, she wasn’t particularly interesting. She was serious, and she always seemed vaguely angry and tired. This is not what you want from a reality show contestant. However, it is what you want from a Top Chef winner who opens her own restaurant and becomes the show’s greatest success story to date. For our last meal in Chicago, we went to Izard’s Girl and The Goat, and enjoyed everything from duck tongues to goat carpaccio.

It’s not easy to get a reservation at Girl and The Goat – calling a month in advance for a Tuesday night, all we could wrangle was 10:45pm. However, they do take walk-ins, and remind you that they serve dinner at the bar or in their small lounge area. Don’t try the bar, far too busy – just getting a glass of wine I bumped into the poor man eating in front of me three times, and I was actively trying not to disturb him. However, the lounge (where we ended up) is great- low couches and tables, plenty of space – we felt like we were having a casual dinner at home. The crowd is mixed – young hipsters chatting, middle-aged couples making out, an older woman in a fur collar and leather pants examining the contents of her wallet for 15 minutes before finally vacating her spot in the lounge.

The Goat does small plates, in several different categories. They suggest two plates per person, but we ordered 3 each plus dessert and were full, but not uncomfortably stuffed. A lot of Yelp diners seem to think The Goat’s food is too salty, but we had a wide range of plates (below) and nothing was improperly seasoned. I think that the Yelp-ers may be mistaking the inherent tang of offal with salt.

Beet bread with goat milk butter and walnut citrus vinaigrette – This was amazing. I wish I could have tasted all of the breads offered that night, but I’m glad I got this one- where else do you get honey wheat bread with beets inside? The goat butter and vinaigrette paired perfectly.
Grilled oysters with bacon and horseradish – The accompaniments were just enough to enhance but not mask the flavor of the oysters. They came to the table burning hot (do not pick up the shells) but delicious.
Goat carpaccio with tongue vinaigrette and olives: Admittedly this didn’t taste all that different from a regular carpaccio. The tongue vinaigrette is nothing to be scared of, it was just a different play on the usual truffled olive oil.
Crispy duck tongues with cara cara oranges and mushrooms: I was worried about this one, especially when the plate of duck tongues looked so much like…tongues. But they tasted like chewy morsels of savory meat. Nothing wrong with that.
Seared diver scallop with Thai basil and “pizza poofs”: This was my absolute favorite. The scallops were seared perfectly and just barely cooked through the middle. The sauce was so full of flavor I wanted to lick the bowl. If it hadn’t been such a trendy restaurant I probably would have.
Hen of the woods mushroom ragout and ravioli: Interestingly, even though we ordered this as our third course, they brought it last. I’m guessing this was on purpose, as it was the heaviest dish and would probably have stuffed us too full to enjoy the rest of our meal. Meaty, earthy mushrooms and a creme fraiche sauce with ravioli. Great, though seemed a tad out of place with the rest of the menu.
Butternut squash malasadas: Malasadas are little doughnuts, these filled with butternut squash and topped with ice cream. They weren’t overly sweet, but a nice finish to the evening.

If I had one complaint about Girl and the Goat, it would be that the lighting was too dim for pictures – all of mine came out looking like a mess. Thus, I stole the photo above from their website. Whatever that is looks pretty good, too.

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