I’ve been off on my work travels yet again, this time to Chicago. I was very excited about all of the eating opportunities and I wasn’t disappointed. I think my body may be disappointed in me now though. No person should probably eat that many fried potatoes for breakfast consistently over five days.
Beyond all the American fare and lardy breakfasts though, one place I did want to try out was Girl and the Goat, which I had read about at Passport Delicious and also at Meemalee’s Kitchen. Sadly, it appeared I wasn’t the only one – no tables available until July, and a no reservations bar seating policy that managed to stress me out as I hovered, eyeballing other parties waiting to swoop on any available bar stool. Yes, this is a restaurant with buzz, and lots of it. We stopped by one night – no chance of any food action, and wandered over the road to eat vaguely disappointing Italian food. However, we pledged to swoop by the night after early (like, 6pm early) and see if we could bag a spot at the bar.
Bizarrely enough, we managed to get more than that – more in the fact of a free table for 3 at 7pm on a Thursday night. I’ve never seen my colleague move so fast as when he was told they actually had a table.
So, for all the waiting and bar stool vulture stress, was it worth it? I can safely say, yes. The concept is small plates of the “throw as many different ingredients of different cultures into a dish and see what happens” school, but in the main, it worked, and for some dishes, this worked brilliantly. This Stephanie Izard definitely knows her flavours, and it’s also this kind of playful, not-too-serious style of food that I generally love about the American eating scene.
My only key issue with Girl and the Goat would be…too big wine glasses, nay, wine goblets.
Just look at this glass/goblet thing. It’s bloody massive. Some of you may not see this as a bad thing (big glasses of wine – brilliant). For someone like me though, who happens to have some of the tiniest hands known to man, this is a very bad thing. I had to grasp this wine goblet in both hands in order to drink out of it, in the manner of a small child. I can safely say you cannot feel or appear sophisticated if you are drinking wine as if you are gulping it out of a beaker.
Food. The highlights:
Shisito peppers with miso, sesame and parmesan. You want the ultimate snacky food to eat with booze? Well, here it is. Totally savoury, totally works. I so want to re-create these at home.
Wood fired chicken, fried pickles, shredded sprouts, naan bread and yuzu harissa. This may sound like a culinary crime. All I see are FRIED PICKLES! Amazing. And if I had the chance, I would have yuzu harissa on hand for every meal. I would even bathe in the stuff. It’s that good. Again, something I immediately wanted to re-create at home as soon as I tried it. Naan bread was a bit duff though.
A little loaf of sourdough with beer cheese. Yes, that’s beer cheese. You’re basically dipping bread into liquid Welsh rarebit topping. That is a very, very good thing.
Beets, green beans, crunchy things, white beans and anchovies. Fresh, tasty, great variety of textures. Felt virtuous but delicious at the same time. I liked this a lot.
The chickpea fritters with feta, hazelnut hummus and romesco was also pretty good too. I think I would have preferred a bit more romesco to cut through the more comforting textures of the hummus and fritter though.
Goat masala pizza. I’m not joking. It worked. Imagine the most tender, lamby lamb, topped with really rich but sharp yoghurt, zingy herbs and cooked down onions. Seriously rich, but very nice. I only wish we had ordered a few less dishes so I could have properly enjoyed this, rather than feeling like I was about to explode.
There was also some pork shank with truffles and apple, and calamari stuffed with lamb sausage – I have to admit, I could hardly eat any. Way too much food. We should have followed the servers advice.
Alongside this, we also had a really fabulous red – a Spanish Barabazul – which was wonderfully fruity, but also lingered on the palate and had a good level of depth. I really want to seek this out so I can drink it again.
So, you probably get the gist. I really liked Girl and the Goat. It’s buzzy, the interiors are nice, it’s laidback, but most importantly, the food is really really good. If you find yourself in Chicago, do what you can to bag a spot.
Girl and the Goat
809 West Randolph St
Price range: mid-level to pricey (you could definitely get away with ordering a couple of dishes less than what we ordered for three people)