Girl and The Goat

We were so lucky after our venture into The Aviary to have the opportunity to snag a couple of stools at Girl and The Goat. The brainchild of Stephanie Izard, the name originates from her French last name, which is a type of goat-antelope. She began her culinary career at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and then went on to Fermier Brasserie in Phoenix. In 2007, she opened Scylla, only to sell it on a whim when she got a spot on Top Chef: Season 4. She took home the top spot on the show, which allowed her to travel, taste, teach, and explore cuisine for a solid two years. To market her new concept, she initiated “Wandering Goat” dinners at undisclosed venues. With the buzz surrounding her mystery dinners, she opened her restaurant in 2011 under high demand, all the while earning a Food and Wine “Best New Chef” honor.

 Since The Girl and The Goat only takes limited reservations, we were reluctantly hopeful when we arrived. We were told it would be a 2-hour wait, but we could choose to wait for a table or stool in the bar area.  So we hung around the bar for a little while, ordered a few drinks and waited patiently (like vultures) for a table to open up. As luck would have it, three leather stools opened up at one of the lowboy tables in the bar area and we were on our way.

One of the highlights of the menu is anything made with goat. Goat is sourced from several farms near Chicago, including Kilgus Farmstead. While most restaurants employ smoking, braising, and sausage making for the majority of the goat on the menu, Girl and The Goat takes a different approach. Izard and her staff employ various methods of preparation as well as a wider array of cuts. You can find goat liver mousse, confit goat belly, goat carpaccio, and smoked goat rillette empanadas on her menu. Her desire to showcase goat in its different forms seems to set her apart from the crowd. By demonstrating goat’s versatility, she is bound and determined to put goat on the everyday plate.

Unfortunately, we were not able to sample our top pick, the confit goat belly, as it was sold out by the time we were seated (sigh).  So goes dinner…..

We started out with a fresh chickpeas in vinaigrette with crispy homemade cracker bread.

This was a nice little bit and was a nice way to start our dinner.  We were off to great start and eagerly await our next course!

Our next course was sugo, which was recommended to us by the people seated next to us at the communal table.  It was a goat, pork, and veal sugo (a tomato-based sauce with braised meat), house made pappardelle with pickled ramps and rosemary. The pappardelle was tender and the ramps added a tangy note.  It was a pleasant 2nd course. The third course was the chickpea fritters. These were garnished with fresh and cooked chickpeas, a peppery tomato sauce and a chredded slaw.

It was good but we were still waiting in dire anticipation of two other dishes that we ordered: crispy pig face and braised pork shank.

Crispy Pig Face: this came as one of the most highly recommended dishes on the menu (aside from that legendary confit goat belly).

I have to say that it was also pretty tasty, although a little chewy and very salty.

It was all a distant memory once we laid our eyes on the braised pork shank:

Talk about a flavor explosion! I think once we tasted this delicious dish, we forgot all about all the other things we ordered. The pig itself was fall apart tender. It was served with a spicy tangy sauce that we couldn’t put our finger on. Sweet-talking the waiter got the answer: gochujang, a Chinese kimchee sauce.  The pig shank was accompanied with homemade buttermilk dressing and fresh pita bread.  Although the pork didn’t really need the buttermilk dressing, it was perfect with just the kimchee sauce.

Three days later and still dreaming of crispy pork shank. Too bad Chicago is so far away!


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