Our cab crossed the outer boundary of the elevated tracks that bordered the center of town, passing over I90 and the Chicago River, delivering us to a busy corner where celebrity Chef Stephanie Izard has staked her dining claim. Our dining destination, Girl and the Goat, is at the center of the electric street in the heart of Chicago’s West Loop environs.
As we waited for our table to be ready, it was not a complete shock that we bumped into two Philadelphia friends at the end of their Little Goat diner dinner across the street. Random, yes. Fun, also yes. Shocking, no. Thanks to television and the internet, all informed travelers now seem bound for the same destinations. In this case, Randolph Street and Izard’s city block in particular.
Though tempted to stay at Little Goat, we traveled back across the street, claimed our table and ordered a selection of small plates. Most of the plates were hits, though a couple were misses. Here’s a round-up of the hits.
Hit Number 1 – Roasted Beets
We really dug the beets (pun intended). The small dish featuring obscenely fresh beets was generously sized. We loved the presentation as well as the melding of the many ingredients into one cohesive, tasty dish.
Hit Number 2 – Escargot Ravioli
We were intrigued to try the ravioli uniquely filled with escargots. The Girl and The Goat dish proves that escargot and ravioli were born to live together. In this dish, the textures of soft, silky pasta and crunchy fried shallots happily co-exist. The snail-snuffed pasta and the savory sauce with flavors of bacon and tamarind made us want more once the plate was empty.
Hit Number 3 – Goat Carpaccio
We knew that we should try a goat dish at a restaurant called Girl and The Goat. Plus, we wanted to check out the goat locally sourced from Kilgus Farm. The carpaccio was a good choice, with its complex flavors and mixed textures. The thinly sliced goat meat’s slightly earthy, gamey flavors were enhanced by the other ingredients, especially the salty capers.
Hit Number 4 – Busta Rye
This fresh-made, cleverly-named bread was well worth the $4 charge. The crunchy rye was served with two sides, a smoked salmon spread and a pepito salad. We slathered the flavorful sides on to the slices until the loaf was gone. For a minute, we thought about ordering more bread, but sanity ruled and we stopped with the one order.
Hit Number 5 – Miso-Butterscotch Budino
Jacques Torres famously opined “Life is short. Eat dessert first.” Although we ended our meal with the budino, it was the best dish of the meal. The dessert, which includes a myriad of ingredients like miso butterscotch, candied cashews, pineapple, bacon toffee and cashew cake, was so delicious that we ate took turns eating it until the plate was empty. Sweet yet salty. Soft yet crunchy. The miso-butterscotch budino can best be summed up as perfect.
Alas, not all of the plates at our dinner were hits. The fried pickles were too cloying and sour to be an enjoyable starter, and the wood oven roasted pig face (a marquee dish of the restaurant) was overcooked, dry and underseasoned.
Overall, our dinner at Girl and The Goat was an excellent re-introduction to the vibrant Chicago food scene. We got our first taste of the seasonal ingredients and creative cookery that are prevalent throughout the city.
We ended the meal by walking over to nearby Avec for nightcaps. A toast was in order – we were finally back in Chicago!
Girl & The Goat is located at 809 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607, United States.