Friday, July 15, 2011

Dining Out in Chicago: Girl & the Goat

After almost a year of waiting, I finally had the pleasure of dining at Girl & the Goat, Top Chef Chicago winner Stephanie Izard's restaurant dedicated to "serving fun foods and craft beers in a rustic and bad ass environment." The West Loop hot spot has generated quite the buzz since it appeared on the scene last July, so I definitely had high expectations going into the night.

GATG did not disappoint. The location, situated along the Randolph Street Restaurant Corridor, is a former industrial building that has been transformed into a stunning space complete with exposed beams, a beautiful French oak bar and a creepy albeit eye-catching painting of a girl and a goat. The decor can be described as clean and simple with a gritty edge. The combination of coffee tones and burnt wood gives the space a warm, homey feel while still maintaining a trendy vibe.

Note the eerie wall decor. Source: Saveur

The menu is broken down into three sections–vegetables, seafood and meat, and is accompanied by a specials menu which features signature breads (baked in house daily), goat dishes and oyster dishes. Dishes are meant to be shared, family-style, and the staff recommend 2 to 3 dishes per diner. The drink menu includes craft beers (occasionally there's even a brew crafted by Izard herself), wines blended in house, and GATG custom cocktails.

The service was excellent. From the hostesses to the bus boys, the staff could not have been more warm or friendly. Our server was extremely knowledgeable and she guided us through the entire menu, making recommendations and reigning us in when we got a little carried away ordering.

But, enough of my chatter. Let's get to the fun stuff...the food

Our meal consisted of:
Bread & Oysters
Chicken little bread • carrots • chicken liver butter • carrot butter
Wood fired tomahawk oysters • horseradish • bacon • preserved lemon
Roasted cauliflower • pickled peppers • pine nuts • mint
Roasted asparagus • rogue river smokey blue • shaved radish • crispy onion
Roasted beets • green beans • white anchovy • avocado creme frâiche 
Seared scallops • brown butter XO • bok choy • shiitakes • white asparagus
Crisp calamari • rabbit ravioli • spring onions • red watercress
Fried soft shell crab • pickled ramps • zucchini • chili lime
Wood fired walter's chicken • yuzu harissa • fried pickles • shaved brussels • grilled naan 
Confit goat belly • bourbon butter • lobster n' crab • fennel
Bittersweet chocolate cake • shiitake gelato • toffee creme frâiche 
Ganache pork fat doughnuts • yuzu blackberries • salted oat streusel • malted vanilla gelato
Rhubarb • lemon gelato • salted graham cracker crumbs • panna cotta

Owner, Stephanie Izard & my favorite dish, the seared scallops. Source: Chicago Magazine

The standouts of the evening were the roasted cauliflower, the scallops, the soft shell crab, the goat belly and the bittersweet chocolate cake.

The roasted cauliflower was stellar. I love any kind of roasted vegetables, but this dish went above and beyond. The pine nuts and mint complemented the cauliflower beautifully. I never would have thought to pair mint with cauliflower, but it was a great combination.

The scallops were by far my favorite dish of the night. Drenched in a rich buttery sauce and accompanied by crisp shiitakes and bites of white asparagus, they were cooked to perfection. This dish could not have been executed more perfectly.

Runner-up for best dish of the night goes to the soft shell crab. It was so delicious that after eating one helping, we replaced one of our other orders with more of the crab. It was served on a bed of slaw and strawberries and topped with a chili lime sauce which gave it a hint of Asian flavor. The crab was succulent and overall the dish had a really fresh feel to it.

GATG is always bustling but still retains a warm, laid-back vibe. Source: Chicago Magazine

With the confit goat belly I had no idea what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The meat was extremely tender and slightly less fatty than pork belly. It was served in a rich, creamy bourbon butter with chunks of lobster and crab. Definitely a winning dish.

And finally, dessert– bittersweet chocolate cake with shiitake gelato and toffee creme frâiche. Of our three desserts, this was my selection, and I could not have been more pleased. The dish was made up of a deep, dark, rich pastry similar to flourless chocolate cake topped with a creamy gelato (I know shiitake seems like an odd gelato flavor, but I promise you, it tasted nothing like mushrooms) and finished with a sweet toffee cream and a pinch of something crunchy.

All in all, a meal to remember. My words don't do it justice.

The rundown
Price: $$$ ($31-$60 per person, including one drink, tax & tip)

Final verdict: two very big thumbs up, I would go back tomorrow if I could

1 comment:

  1. Love you review! drooling now. Want to go there so badly. Maybe next time we are in the windy city we will make it happen.