Girl and the Goat, Chicago
"You’re going to laugh, but I swear you have to order the green beans. And the pig face," a friend wisely told me the night before my third and final mind- (and stomach)-blowing dinner in Chicago, at Girl and the Goat.
The year-old restaurant is helmed by Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef season four, the only female winner in the show’s history. She’s so present at Girl and the Goat—she is the “girl,” after all. She regularly visits the farms that source her food, and we watched her cook in the kitchen while we sipped our pre-dinner wine. Even though the restaurant has a huge following, it’s cool to see that she hasn’t sold out. From the giant psychedelic girl-and-goat mural, to the casualness of the restaurant’s website, the place definitely has a very “Stephanie” feel. It all works, and that’s why the place was 100% packed at 6 pm on a Wednesday nite.
My sister and I secured reservations months prior—I even made my own separate reservation, just in case the little Chower screwed things up. (This is serious foodie business!) When one of my sister’s co-workers found out she was going Wednesday, he called for his own reservation…and couldn’t get in until October. Hint hint!
Of course you can probably guess the real reason Girl and the Goat has racked up so many accolades and followers. Each dish not only looked, but tasted intricately and passionately prepared. Every bite demanded your full attention. Nothing was overrated.
The menu is broken down into three categories: vegetables, fish, and meat. There are also three daily bread specials. On Wednesday, we chose between breads made with lobster, blueberries, or a sourdough with house churned butter and beer cheese smear. Our waitress told us to go with the latter, and after it was delivered to our table and devoured, I found myself licking my knife clean. The butter was more vibrant and flavorful than any I had ever tasted. And is beer cheese ever wrong? No, no it is not.
As assumed, my dining companions didn’t go for the pig face, but we ordered most of the veggie dishes. How did this meat and potatoes town get so good with the veggies? The kohlrabi salad with fennel, evalon, toasted almonds, blueberry, and ginger dressing; the roasted cauliflower with pickled peppers, pine nuts, and mint; the chickpeas fritters with romesco, hazelnut hummus, sesame, and goat feta; and of course, the green beans with a sauce so rich, if it weren’t for the fantastic crunch, it would have seemed that I wasn’t eating vegetables at all. It’s easier to make dessert or meat taste good, but If a restaurant can make vegetables the stand out dish, you know you’re in good hands.
I’m making my next reservation at Girl and the Goat at the same time I book another plane ticket to Chicago.