Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Girl and the Goat

809 W Randolph, Chicago

We happened in here at 10pm on a Wednesday and discovered, to our delight, that it's open until 11pm on weekdays. He-llo! Immediate points in my book. Of course we'd been wanting to check out Top Chef champion Stephanie Izard's spot, but we were sort of waiting for the early buzz to fade. But given how delicious our dinner was, I doubt that it will anytime soon.

The room is pleasant but not overly elegant or stuffy - it's somewhat bustling, though you're not in close quarters with people the way you are at Avec or the Publican. The decor is dark but there's plenty of light inside to see your food and your partner, and you can see the line where the food is being prepared, which is kind of fun.

Girl and the Goat is a small plate restaurant, with 10 meat, 10 vegetable, and 10 seafood options. Despite the small menu, we had an unbelievably difficult time making a decision, because everything looked fantastic. We were going to get 4 things - we got 6. And a bread.

The bread came with liver. I'm not sure which creature donated its liver to our meal, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank it for doing so, because it was quite tasty.

Our first vegetable was the pan fried shishito peppers with parmesan and sesame. They turned out to be one of my favorite dishes. The sesame didn't really come out strongly, but the flavors were delicious nonetheless, with just a touch of heat from the peppers. Our other vegetable was the strongly recommended green beans with fish sauce and cashews, which I also loved. The fish sauce was aioli-like, which I didn't expect but didn't mind at all. The green beans were crunchy and delicious.

Our seafood were the scallops with veal stock and almond butter and the softshell crab with sweet corn, lime and chili aioli. The scallops were perfectly cooked and very tasty, beautifully set off by the meatiness of the veal (though I admit that I couldn't much taste the almond butter). The softshell crab (which we couldn't resist getting because, as our server pointed out, the season is almost over!) were breaded and fried, which to me seemed like kind of a pity, because although the breading was light and crispy, it still made the crabs a little heavier and greasier feeling than they would have been otherwise. The lime and chili aioli was a nice compliment, zesty and delicate.

Our meats were the rabbit rillete with crisp rice crepe and ginger giardiniera and... and... another dish that doesn't seem to be in any of the online menus! A combination of meats (I want to say goat, veal and beef?) served over papardelle with a berry... gooseberry? No. I want to say it started with a c. Argh. Well! The rabbit, I have to say, was not that exciting. This may be partly because it was one of the last things we got and I was horrifically stuffed (people! 4-5 dishes is MORE THAN ENOUGH for two people!), but I suspect it was just not as amazing as the other things we had. It was basically a crispy crepe - fine enough, but not especially tasty - rolled around the rillette and floating in a nice sauce. So texture wise, it was kind of odd. The crispy crepe started to go soggy pretty fast, and the flavors didn't really sing together.
BUT the papardelle! Oh my goodness! It was incredible! I am generally not that excited about savory things paired with fruits, particularly meat and fruit. But wow, this knocked my socks off. It was so fantastic. I loved it so much that I saved it for last, which, as my boyfriend pointed out, was not a very bright idea, because it wasn't as good cold. But oh man. It was delicious.

We were skimpy on drinks and only got a beer and a glass of wine. But the beer list is impressive for sure, and the wine list certainly seemed fine to me, who is quite ignorant about wine. But I very much enjoyed the glass of riesling I had, and it paired beautifully with the food.

The meal, overall, set us back $120 ($100 without tip). And I'd say that's to be expected for 2 people - while you can certainly get less food than we did (I'd recommend that you do, seriously), you will probably want to get more than 1 drink each. And you might find room for dessert as well.

Anyhow, overall - definitely recommended. It was really delicious.

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