Monday, February 11, 2013

Fun Playing With Food in Chicago Part 5: Little Goat Diner

The Chicago jury rendered its verdict in the middle of a soggy/snowy Wednesday afternoon and it wasn't pretty. Still, life would go on, and we'd need to eat some dinner. A fancy, celebratory place wouldn't fit. And we had no reservations, anyway. I'd already considered Little Goat Diner as a place to try on this trip; a nasty, losing day seemed the perfect excuse to hop aboard the bus to drown my sorrows with more of Chef Stephanie Izard's innovative cuisine (and a couple of cocktails for me, and more of that fabulous Blenheim Ginger Ale for Bob).

Little Goat Diner is located across Randolph Street from Girl and The Goat, but it is a completely different dining experience - a diner yes, but with a touch of whimsy and lots of original spins on some of the classics, while still offering many of the classics for those who prefer them, well, classic. We arrived just before the wait line formed (Little Goat doesn't take reservations) and snagged an immediate table. As we perused the menu, the few remaining empty tables filled in, as well as a large communal table and a seating counter. Tables turned with enthusiastic alacrity, so the wait line didn't seem to ever get too long.

We both opted for burgers. That section of the menu allows the diner three choices of patty: Slagel Beef, which touts its sustainably raised product, locally raised Kilgus Goat (supplier of all of that Girlie Goat for Izard), or a Veggie version.

ALL AMERICAN BURGER (KILGUS GOAT PATTY): pickles . onion . american cheese . special sauce . lettuce & tomato . sesame seed bun
Bob went for the classic, with the goaty twist, and he was not disappointed. I don't know how he ate the whole thing.

Side of  Smoked Fries
In hindsight, I wished Bob had chosen a different potato option, since there were four other house-made potato items, and my burger came with the smoked fries piled on top. Oh well. These fries will make you happy and you really can't have too many (though we weren't able to finish them).

Owing to my general unhappy mood, a side of pure comfort food was also in order. I normally prefer the more pudding-like mac n cheese style to this looser type, but today, this version hit the spot magnificently with toothy, creamy goodness, owing to the high quality cheeses in the sauce, expert preparation, and perfectly al dente pasta, with just a modest crunchy counterpoint in the topping. This side is recommended regardless of the state of your disposition, and don't hesitate to use a spoon!

HORSESHOE BURGER (KILGUS GOAT PATTY): smoked fries . chili . cheese sauce, house made toast slice

My entree managed to completely erase the frown from my face and my heart - how many burgers can do that? The Horseshoe Burger is up there with the offerings of Cleveland's own B Spot as a truly satisfying burger experience - the Kilgus Goat patty is gently grilled, placed over a slice of house made toast from Little Goat Bread, then smothered with smoked fries, house-simmered Goat Chili, and cheese sauce. The distrinctive flavor of the goat came through in a pleasant stereo from both the goat chili topping and the goat burger patty. I was only able to eat about half of this portion, and less than half of the mac n cheese before I was at "Uncle!" But I felt sooooo much better! We were a little surprised when our server informed us that they'd been open less than a month - I sort of knew that from my internet research, but the seamless quality delivery of food and service belied the venue's young age. You will eat in good hands at the Little Goat Diner.

Little Goat Bread is attached to the diner, and is where Chef Izard sources all of the breads for her restaurants. Little Goat also offers bread for retail sale (and some specialty beverages and food products) - but get there early! Though even at evening time when I snapped Bob's photo next to the window (about 7:15pm CST), Chef Izard's minions were hard at work, making the proverbial donuts. None for us, however; we'd be traveling back to Cleveland on Thursday, so it was back to the bus stop. But there would be two final meals in Chicago before we'd wing away - so more Fun Playing With Chicago Food is yet to come!

Little Goat on Urbanspoon

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