Stephanie Izard may be best known as the winner of Top Chef season four and the only female chef declared champion in the show's history but Chicago natives are lucky enough to know her a little more intimately as the executive chef at Girl & The Goat, her self-described "rustic and bad ass" restaurant in the city's West Loop. While we definitely agree that this craft beer slinging beast of a restaurant is surprisingly well characterized by the adage "bad ass", rustic perhaps not-so-much. We're not sure why we had anticipated the restaurant to be considerably smaller than it turned out to be, but the term large fails to convey the colossal stature of this thunderous dining room. A small army of cooks in an open kitchen that lines the entire back wall of the restaurant crank out small dishes that pack a big punch for what must be easily more than 200 eager diners; some like us, holding long-standing reservations, others last-minute drifters and spontaneous eaters happy to wait in a staggeringly long line for one of the tables the house sets aside for walk-ins every night.
The menu is split into three parts: vegetables, meat & fish, but none of the three are mutually exclusive; a concise ancillary menu offers bread, oysters and goat centric sections each with about 3 or 4 choices. We began with a small loaf of zucchini & feta bread served with a Kalamata olive butter and hummus. The bread, of which there were two other equally interesting options are baked in house daily and served piping hot. The funky tang of the feta and the salty olive-butter paralleled one another splendidly, but the hummus while quite good and seemingly well associated to the same familiar mediterranean flavor palate was an unnecessary enhancer, the proverbial third-wheel in this menage-a-trois that was better suited to be a duo.
"Funky Feta" Bread, Kalamata Olive Butter, Hummus - 4$
Fried Naked Cowboy Oysters, Egg Salad, Capers - 12$
Pan Fried Shishito Peppers, Parmesan, Sesame, Miso - 7$
Squash Blossom Rangoon, Crab, Chive Yogurt, Toasted Almonds - 11$
Smoked Goat Rillette Empanadas, Albacore Tuna Crema, Sun Gold Tomato, Piri Piri - 16$
Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face, Sunny Side Egg, Tamarind, Cilantro, Red Wine-Maple, Potato Stix - 16$
4 Leches, Blueberry, Cereal Streusel - 8$
Stay tuned for post 6 in our 6 part series spotlighting the restaurants we visited while in Chicago, Next up: G.E.B. Or view our previous Chicago post: The Purple Pig.
Girl & The Goat
809 West Randolph Street