Last night, I decided to treat myself to an early dinner at the 2011 James Beard-nominated Girl & the Goat in Chicago’s West Loop. To date, it is Chef Stephanie Izard’s masterpiece.
Girl & the Goat is located just 1 block south and
3 blocks east of the Morgan ‘L’ stop along the CTA Green and Pink Lines.
I have been a huge fan of Stephanie Izard and her cooking, since I moved to Chicago in 2005. Back then, she owned Scylla, a fabulous, Italian-inspired restaurant on the north side of town. Around 2008, Chef Stephanie closed Scylla to dominate the competition on Bravo’s Top Chef. After her well-deserved win, she returned to Chicago and opened Girl & The Goat. In 2013, she won the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Great Lakes award. Do I have your attention yet?
Girl & the Goat is a casual yet elegant, globally-inspired restaurant with amazing and thoughtful food and libations. It can be hard to choose from the many small, shared and larger plates but do not fret. The kitchen is happy to provide half orders of some dishes, so that you can sample more of them during your visit. I love this sort of accommodation 🙂
Here’s how my dinner went down:
The menu is broken out into vegetarian, fish and meat dishes. I started off with a half order of this chickpea fritter. It was served with garam masala yogurt, heirloom tomatoes, stone fruit, watermelon, micro greens and mint. Wow! It was the perfect balance of crunchy, sweet, tart and spicy. Bright and warm all at the same time. The addition of the mint was no small afterthought.
Next up, I chose a half order of the goat empanadas. As the name of this restaurant foretells, you can expect to find several variations of goat on the menu. The crispy and flavorful goat empanadas are accompanied by a smoked blueberry tapenade and avocado. There was some pickled vegetable in there, too. Very creative. I could easily take down 2 full orders of this dish 🙂
Finally, I chose a full order of this pan roasted halibut. It was nestled in a mix of marcona almond butter, white asparagus and blueberry nuoc cham. Did I mention I love blueberries? Well, I do! So, you can imagine my joy to find them in two different non-dessert items 🙂
I will be totally honest here. Upon first glance, the goat empanada and halibut preparations did not seem like they should work. I hesitated ordering them. Sometimes this happens to me, when I peruse the menu here or at Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat Diner which is located across the street. Then, I snap out of it because I remember in whose loving hands I am.
It’s just like when I think Meryl Streep is wrongly cast in an upcoming movie role and I am, of course, always proven wrong. Why? Because she is Meryl-freaking Streep and she is a genius! Chef Stephanie Izard is the Meryl Streep of the culinary world!
I washed down this delicious meal with a glass of Sparkling Rosé which was perfect for cleaning my palate between these 3 unique dishes.
The space at Girl & the Goat is large with a variety of seating options. There are traditional small tables, long communal seating near the bar and an outdoor patio on Randolph street which is lined with pretty flower pots. The kitchen here is open, as it is across the street at Little Goat Diner.
One more thing! Stephanie Izard is opening her third restaurant, Duck, Duck, Goat, later this year. It will feature a Chinese-inspired menu. I can hardly wait 🙂
Girl & the Goat is located at 809 W. Randolph Street. It is open every day from 4:30pm – 11pm (midnight on Friday and Saturday. Click here for more information.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Green Line or Pink Line to Girl & the Goat. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!