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Dining Out

Chicago 2011 Part 9 - Girl and the Goat

by Michael Chu
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When Saveur magazine called Girl and the Goat the best new restaurant in the United States and I realized it was in Chicago, I made a reservation during our upcoming trip. When I found out that they were also nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant (2011), I got really excited. Our late dinner (10pm) at Girl & the Goat, while not as amazing as the title "best new restaurant" would lead us to believe, was fun and not at all disappointing (except we didn't get to meet Stephanie Izard).

Girl and the Goat - Exterior
Girl and the Goat (809 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL) is a hip bar and fun small plates restaurant. "Rustic" is a word that comes to mind when I think of both the restaurant environment and the food... and, in this case, "rustic" a very good thing.

Girl and the Goat - Hiramasa Crudo
We started off by ordering half a dozen items and let our server (also named Michael) pace them out in the order that he thought best. Michael's timing was perfect - we never had to wait for more than a couple minutes between plates. Our first dish was the hiramasa crudo ($16). The raw yellowtail amberjack was thinly sliced and served with sweet and salty crispy pork belly cubes, caperberries, and aji chile. The sauce was fairly sour, but didn't blend well with the other strong flavors which in turn overpowered the delicate taste of the hiramasa. I wasn't quite worried yet, but became a little concerned about the upcoming courses.

Girl and the Goat - Kohlrabi Salad
Luckily, the kohlrabi salad ($8) that arrived shortly after was excellent. Thin sliced kohlrabi was tossed with fennel, evalon, toasted almonds, blueberries, and a creamy ginger dressing to form a delightful salad. We loved it.

Girl and the Goat - Chickpea Fritters
Next up were chickpea fritters ($11) served with romesco, hazelnut hummus, sesame, and goat feta. The fritters weren't greasy and had an amazingly fine and creamy texture under the thin, crisp shell. The inclusion of fresh whole chickpeas and fried whole chickpeas in the bowl made this an ultimate chickpea dish with two whole (fresh and fried) and two ground (hummus and fritters) examples of how versatile chickpeas can be (and how delicious). Overall, we found this dish to be not just good to eat but also comforting.

Girl and the Goat - Skewered Lamb Heart
We moved onto the meat courses with skewered lamb heart ($10), sweetbreads, potato aioli, ramps, and strawberries. We found the lamb heart to alternate between tender and chewy, and Tina didn't enjoy the flavors as much as I did. I gladly finished off her share of the dish, but felt that the execution could have been a little bit better.

Girl and the Goat - Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face
Wood oven roasted pig face ($16) is an excellent pork terrine (made out of pig's head meat) which has been completely browned (and was reasonably crispy) with a perfect sunny side egg on top. When I mixed it together with the fried potato shreds and tamarind and cilantro sauces, the resulting hash was wonderful.

Girl and the Goat - Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face

Girl and the Goat - Braised Beef Tongue
Our final meat course was braised beef tongue ($14) served with large flakes of compressed masa, salsa, and dressed with a vinaigrette and pickled vegetables. It was like a deconstructed lengua taco. The first piece of beef tongue I had was very crispy and bordering on dry. I prefer my beef tongue a little moist, so I was concerned, but subsequent pieces were all perfect, especially when eaten with the pickled vegetables.

Girl and the Goat - Sauteed Green Beans
We were almost full, but thought we should add one more dish to add some more vegetables into our diet. We ordered the sauteed green beans ($7) which was coated in a fish sauce vinaigrette. The mustard flavor in the sauce came across rather strong, but the cashews in the dish helped to mellow out the intense flavors. Even after scraping off the excess sauce, we found the green beans to be quiet rich - not the light vegetable dish we had envisioned.

Girl and the Goat - Interior
Even though some of the dishes were uneven, we had a great time there. The happy, fun vibe really helped put as at ease and look forward to each course as it arrived. Each dish was inventive enough that we were excited to see what they were going to do with the ingredients and how it would taste with the other components.

Girl and the Goat - Interior

Girl and the Goat - Kitchen

For ease of navigation and to keep the page sizes down, I've split the trip report and reviews into multiple pages:
Chicago 2011 Part 1a - Overview
Chicago 2011 Part 1b - Overview
Chicago 2011 Part 2 - Shui Wah, Santa Anna Bakery
Chicago 2011 Part 3 - Pizzeria Uno, Giordano's
Chicago 2011 Part 4 - Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse
Chicago 2011 Part 5 - Frontera Grill, Xoco
Chicago 2011 Part 6 - Noodles by Takashi Yagihashi, Frontera Fresco, Marc Burger
Chicago 2011 Part 7 - Alinea
Chicago 2011 Part 8 - Vienna Beef Factory
Chicago 2011 Part 9 - Girl and the Goat (this page)

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Written by Michael Chu
Published on August 14, 2011 at 10:00 PM
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