So for my birthday dinner last week, my wonderful husband managed to snag us a reservation at (Top Chef Season 4 winner) Stephanie Izard's new restaurant, The Girl and the Goat. It's been open for less than a month and next to Lady Gaga crowd surfing practically naked at Semi-Precious Weapons during Lollapalooza - its all Chicagoans are talking about.
For such a highly hyped restaurant, you really wouldn't guess it from the ambiance or the service. The decor is very open and welcoming - which as a matter of fact, pretty much describes the service as well. I think I would even venture to say that this was probably the best service I've ever experienced in Chicago, from the valets to the hostesses to the waitress to the sommelier, to the bus boy. Everyone came off as genuine, eager to please and overly excited to talk to you about their favorite dishes (although they were all quick to point out that everything on the menu was delicious).
So the focus of the restaurant is small plates with Mediterranean flavors and organic, locally sourced ingredients. Right up my alley. Not really up Joe's, but that's okay because it was my birthday. Again, along with the service, I really didn't find the food to pretentious at all, just good food, prepared skillfully and packed with flavor.
I should preface before going on that just because Joe didn't like a dish, doesn't mean it wasn't delicious. As you know, he's just a meat and potatoes kind of guy and can be a bit resistant towards anything that is even a little bit "out there".
We started off with fried okra stuffed with homemade sausage.
As you can see I snapped the pic after we started eating it, (00ps!), but rest assured - it was delicious. In fact, a lot of the dishes were not what I would call beautiful but I think that's part of the charm of her food.
Next we had the hiramasa crudo, with pork belly and caper berries. This was probably the prettiest of the dishes, but my 2nd least favorite (but I liked this about 100 times more than what my least favorite dish was).
While it was a very tasty dish, my only complaint was it did seem a bit salty between the fish, the sauce and the caper berries. By the way I had never seen a caper berry before - they look like fruit but taste like capers (as the name suggests!).
Next, we had the soft shell crab, over sweet corn with lime and chili aioli. OH. MY. GOD. This was DELICIOUS. Between the texture of the fried crab with the crunchy corn and the amount of flavor she managed to pack into the corn - this was definitely my favorite of the night, and probably up there with Top 10 things I've ever tasted.
Next they brought out the green beans we had ordered, which were delicious, probably the tastiest green beans I've ever had (they were served with a fish sauce vinaigrette and cashews) - but my only complaint was they were the second to last dish we received. I would have liked to have had them earlier in the meal so we could have snacked on them throughout. That didn't stop me from eating close to all of them (Joe of course didn't like them).
Okay, so this next dish is very difficult for me to talk about. And its been almost two weeks.
So - I'll just come out with it. It was pig face. Yes, dear readers, pig face. I'm not sure what to say about this, other than - I really don't know what we were thinking. All I know is Joe seemed intrigued by it, the server recommended it, and I can be somewhat of an adventurous eater. Since Joe rarely is, I seized the opportunity.
I wish I hadn't.
They pull all the fat off the face and roll it up into some type of a sausage, served with shoestring fries and an egg.
I'm sure there are more adventurous eaters out there than me who liked this - but the whole thing just came off as overly greasy to me and just unappetizing. My stomach also did not feel right the next morning, which could have more to do with the fact that I was probably more mentally grossed out by this - but let's just say I won't be trying pig face again anytime soon.
And I've been steering clear of pork since then. I'm sure I'll get over at some point.
So at least we didn't completely end the night on that note - we ordered a delicious dessert, called the fudgesicle, which was essentially frozen fudge covered in coarse salt, topped with an olive oil gelato. This was a delicious and much more pleasant way to end our night!
One thing to add is that for such an outstanding and hyped up restaurant, the prices are very reasonable for Chicago. We had plenty to eat, along with a bottle of prosecco, and I think our bill was around $125.
So all in all, I really very much enjoyed the Girl and the Goat and will definitely be returning, next time though probably with girl friends - and I will not be ordering the pig face.