There are girls. There are goats. Then, there is The Girl and the Goat. It isn’t just some restaurant, but is a restaurant that still requires booking two months in advance even though it’s been around for the better part of a decade. Of course, it also happens to be in Chicago, which has a lot of people who like food. It probably doesn’t hurt that the founder and Executive Chef, Stephanie Izard, won Top Chef, went to the University of Michigan and honed her skills at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute.
It also probably doesn’t hurt that pretty much everything on the ever-changing menu looked delicious, starting with the bread. We chose the Blueberry Sourdough because summer is blueberry season. It came with blueberry jam and spring onion cream cheese. Somewhat unsurprisingly, it tasted like a giant blueberry bagel in the best possible way and the spring onion cream cheese didn’t really try to sway that opinion.
I should also mention that this was one of those shared plates places, so brace yourself for a bunch more food, starting with the Goat Empanadas. These were topped with grilled pineapple-blueberry pico, roasted poblano cream and queso fresco. I loved that the inside of the empanada was just straight goat with goatastic seasoning and the dough was flaky and strong. The toppings helped add a balance of flavor to the empanadas, but frankly I would have been nearly as happy if it was just goat and dough.
Next came the Calamari Bruschetta. Longtime readers will note that I am a self-proclaimed hater of seafood. They are correct. In fact, I usually don’t like calamari because almost every restaurant effs it up. But, if calamari is done right it can be a revelation. This calamari wasn’t quite a revelation, but it was quite good. It tasted fresh and instead of being deep fried, it was sauteed to keep the flavor intact. The bread was delicious, as was the cheese atop said bread.
The penultimate dish was completely lacking in meat, but it was still right up my alley. It was the Sweet Corn Pierogies, which was exactly what it sounds like – pierogies with sweet corn. They came with charred scallion sour cream and a sweet corn-tomato chimichurri. They tasted like, well pierogies. I liked them, but it is hard to make pierogies great outside of taking a major risk with them and this dish just didn’t take that risk. I love pierogies and these did their job, but something different would have gone a long way.
For the finale, we had the Crisp Braised Pork Shank. This seemed an oxymoron when I first read it on the menu, because braised stuff is pretty much the opposite of crispy. Yet, when it arrived with the green goddess sauce, stone fruit kimchi and naan I was in for a surprise. The exterior maintained a fantastic crisp, while the pork could just be pulled off the shank in whichever sized chunks I want with a simply tug of the fork. On its own, it was a taste to behold. Combined with the sauce, spicy peaches and soft flatbread it was like the world’s fanciest and most rewarding tacos.
Needless to say, there is a reason why The Girl and the Goat is packed night in and night out. Not every dish was like biting into enlightenment, but enough were to leave me wanting more. My only regret is that I only had one goat dish at a restaurant based around goat. Yet, I can only assume that the rest of the goat dishes were as good as everything else on the menu and that thought it what helps me sleep at night.