Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fun Playing With Food in Chicago Part 3: Girl & The Goat

Our Monday dinner reservation at Girl & the Goat wasn't until 9:30pm, plenty of time to recover some appetite after our marvelous lunch at The Gage. We hopped a bus across town and arrived a little early, and so waited at the bar until our table was ready. There, we enjoyed two interesting beverages - mine a take on the classic Dark N Stormy, containing a local rum, house-made falernum, and Blenheim Ginger Ale, while Bob sipped a full bottle of the boldly flavored Blenheim Ginger Ale.

Girl & the Goat is one of Chicago's hottest reservations right now, and with good reason. Chef/owner Stephanie Izard and her team are cranking out small plates of creative food emphasizing local and sustainable ingredients, though I haven't found anything that explains the goat connection. Izard is doing for goat what The Purple Pig is doing for pork; there were some stylistic similarities between the two restaurants, though the food itself was rather different. The Girl & the Goat menu is divided into three categories: Vegetable, Fish, and Meat, however, while vegetable, fish, or meat are respectively the main stars of their categories, there are crossovers. Goat gets its own category, as do oysters and breads/spreads. There is also a separate dessert and cheese menu. Sadly, we hadn't emptied out enough to taste something from each menu, but we sampled a nice variety. The delicious food was matched, again, by outstanding service. 

Busta Rye, Smoked Salmon Cream, Pickled Relish
Breads are baked across the street from the restaurant, at Little Goat Bread. The bread, salmon spread, and relish (which thankfully included some veggies other than cucumber) were delicious, and well worth $4. The other bread varieties available that evening were beet and stecca (also known as baguette), and each was offered with a different spread, walnut vinaigrette and sweet garlic oil, respectively, also at $4.

Grilled Sepia, Smoked Tomato and Pipara Relish, Mighty Goat Sausage
Sepia is similar to squid. This version was tender to chew and the delicate smokiness it picked up from the grill was enhanced by the smoked tomato and piparra peppers, which are of Basque origin. The goat sausage finished off the dish without overpowering the more delicate elements.

pan fried shishito peppers   parmesan . sesame . miso
An interesting take on these zesty peppers successfully combined dairy with sesame and miso, which normally to my palate don't "go" together.

tempura loup de mer filet  . bacon  . sweet n' sour . tuna crema
Loup der mer is a type of seabass also known as branzino. This dish offered a strangely harmonious combination of bacon and tuna flavors under the fried fish, and again didn't allow the more assertive accompaniments to dim the star.

Confit Goat Belly, Bourbon Butter, Lobster & Crab, Fennel
Our favorite two bites of the evening - perfectly braised goat belly (who knew that there was such a thing, or that it could, in its own way, be as savory as pork?) enrobed with bourbony butter and plated with pristine chunks of lobster and crab meat. A pity that we reached capacity before licking up every drop.

It became apparent very quickly why Girl & The Goat is such a hot ticket in Chicago, and you don't even have to like goat to enjoy it! We, however, came away from dinner with a new appreciation for the versatility and flavor of goat - though a little lobster and bourbon don't hurt. Our fun playing with Chicago food would continue Tuesday night.

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