A bit of background on my trip first. My son chose Chicago to celebrate his 14th birthday. I was excited about his decision as Chicago proudly boasts a multitude of gastronomical adventures for all foodies, and it certainly is gorgeous in the summer. Knowing too well how anal retentive I am about organization, I quickly initiated my research to find the best of what Chi-Town had to offer for a quick weekend getaway.
Unanimously brilliant reviews from various food enthusiasts led me to Girl & the Goat, a – opened in 2010 by Top Chef Winner (and former Scylla chef/owner) Stephanie Izard. Super excited, I promptly made my dinner reservations for the first night in Chicago at the Girl & the Goat.
We walked into an Industrial space reinvented with warm lighting, rustic wood details, open kitchen, and a busy bar buzzing with electricity. Grabbing a well made cocktail at the bar (we arrived a bit early), I glanced around to absorb the vibrant energy of this happening place. Hmm, I could get used to this!
We were seated promptly by professional and courteous hostess. A simple but an ever-changing menu consisted of three sections – Vegetables, Fish, and Meat with interplay between all three. To experience the entire menu, we chose to order a few from each section. Mind you, I did have to choose wisely as this interplay of ingredients can make it hard for people with allergies like myself.
Braves eaters, we ordered the Beer bread, Shishito Peppers, Flat bread, Pig Face, Beef Tongue, Oysters, and Carpaccio.
The house made bread failed to impress me since the flavors were too subtle to appreciate. The oysters were average, dressed with an ordinary mignonette.
The pan-fried shishito peppers, surprisingly was a winner at our table. It was wonderfully made with each component complimenting each other.
The Goat Carpaccio was sliced thin, dressed perfectly with the olive vinaigrette. Nicely done!!
The flatbread held its own ground too with the goat chorizo, one of the heartier dishes on the menu.
The braised beef tongue and oven roasted pig face were cooked well and nicely presented. Somehow, I was still waiting to be bedazzled?
I have been fortunate enough to have traveled around the world and eaten some amazing food along the way; exceptional cooking is the only criteria that will bring me back to revisit a restaurant.This being said, everyone is allowed good or bad day, careless or rude service is excusable one time around, and ambiance helps but is not a necessary component for a memorable dining experience.
Frankly, I didn’t get it. Don’t get me wrong. There is plenty to appreciate at Girl & the Goat. It’s not a disappointing restaurant by any means, unless like me, you walked in with great expectations based on the glowing publicity it received. The problem I faced is that there were too many hit-or-misses that I find it hard to recommend whole heartedly.
The menu is considered a ‘sharing’ process but to me the minuscule portions seemed more like a tasting menu. The dishes are well-executed with unusual pairings and I might add, bold in certain areas. Still, it lacked the “wow” factor. The assisting staff was more pleasant and eager to help than the head waiter assigned to our table who seemed more interested in pushing his ideas to us rather than listening or even understanding our needs.
I am not saying that Girl & and the Goat can’t be the restaurant, food enthusiasts appeared to agree on, but in my experience, it didn’t reflect this caliber of restaurant. It is a good restaurant but is it worth the hype?
My dining experience at Girl & and the Goat left me wondering: Did I walk in with too many expectations? Is publicity, any publicity, a good thing after all?