Girl and the Goat

Photo May 16, 10 03 47 PM

 

Girl and the Goat is pretty hot these days following Chef Stephanie Izard’s appearance on Top Chef.  So it’s tough to get a table. But since I was solo for dinner, all my colleagues having taken earlier flights home, Megan suggested that I probably could get a seat in the first come-first serve bar area.

The space is fantastic – large and rustic with exposed beams, rough-hewn wood, and warm, low lighting, all of which works together to create a hip, but cozy, if not a bit loud, atmostphere.  However, the bar was jammed with couples, all eating, and the bar rail was taken up by other couples – and me – hovering to grab the next empty seats. Since it was little me against like 5 other couples, the prospect of getting a single bar seat was dim. I suppose this distinct lack of single patrons at the bar is a result of the restaurant’s location in the West Loop’s Randoph Street restaurant corridor, a 10-minute cab ride from the Michigan Avenue hotels. It’s more of a locals’ place instead of a business person’s stop.

But it was late, and after a long day of sitting in market research, I was tired. I was not about to leave the restaurant without getting food. I ordered a glass of sparkling rose and assumed a reconnissance position.

 Photo May 16, 9 38 03 PM

 

There is also a  lounge-y area in the bar with low banquettes surrounding cocktail tables. After a thorough scan of both the bar and the loungy area,  I spotted one lone businessman sitting on the corner of a banquette next to a large party in a spot suitable for only one person, and kept my eye on him.  

The minute he signed off on his check, I swooped in ready to snag his seat, maintaining enough distance to let him finish his transaction in peace while ensuring that no one else would grab my seat. It worked. Just as he got up to leave, I politely asked him if I could have the spot, and he said yes.

I settled in and the waiter brough me a menu. It’s divided into 3 categories – vegetable, fish, and meat. Everything sounded delicious, thus highlighting one of the key challenges of dining alone, particularly when faced with a  menu of small plates. I wanted to try everything, but couldn’t bring any of it back with me.

Finally, I settled on the Kampachi Crudo, the roasted cauliflower and the braised beef tongue. (Therein lies the delights of dining alone, as no one could criticize me for liking beef tongue.) The waiter assured me I’d made an excellent suggestion and brought me another glass of the sparkling rose.

I wanted to love it all. I loved the atmosphere, and the dishes sounded like they should have been amazing.

But it was just ok. Like, “I’m not sure I’d make the effort to go back” ok. Which bummed me out. Because the space is amazing and the menu sounded amazing

 gng hamachi crudo

The kampachi crudo was served with fried pork belly, a chili aioli, sliced caperberries, and thinly shaved “bread chips”. The dish was very one note, lacking brightness or acidity despite the caperberries, and the aioli paired with the fish made the dish surprisingly heavy. The bread chips weren’t seasoned, and didn’t match in taste or texture with the dish.

 

gng cauliflower

I also got the roasted cauliflower with pickled peppers and pine nuts. The cauliflower was sliced rather than split into florets which made for an interesting presentation and texture, and it had a wonderful caramelized char to it. But the pickled peppers tasted like banana peppers from a jar, and the dish was painfully salty. (And this is coming from the person who eats capers out of the jar with a spoon!)

 gng beef tongue

Then I had the braised beef tongue – which I’m sure most people will tell me was a mistake right there, but I actually like beef tongue. It was served in a bowl like a salad, and had curly endive, sliced (flavorless) roma tomatoes, slices of the tongue, and masa “chips”. It was all atop the salsa verde which got completely lost in the bottom of the bowl. The beef vinaigrette was spooned over the top, and it made the masa chips soggy. And the tongue was dry and tough, as though it hadn’t been braised.

 It wasn’t like any of it needed to be sent back, but none of it wowed either. Bummer.

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