Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Girl and the Goat Brings on the Mighty Pork Shank

The Windy City of Chicago was another one of the stops in our big cross country adventure out West and it was surely memorable.  Not only because we saw Nik Wallenda, the tightrope walker cross two high rise buildings right in front of our eyes but also because we got to sample Stephanie Izard's Girl and the Goat Restaurant.

Known for her big win on Top Chef Season 4, Stephanie Izard's The Girl and the Goat remains ever so popular during its four years in operation.  It was nearly impossible to make a reservation, and I settled for a really late seating on a Sunday evening.  

When we came in, the restaurant was buzzing and completely full, so we ended up sitting at the bar instead.  In the end, we're glad we decided to keep it casual, as it made for a fun experience, resulting in some banter with our waitress.  It was also a great way to observe what other people were trying--creating a pleasantly communal vibe.  I like that we could see the kitchen from our current vantage point, and we noticed how hard and quickly everyone had to work to keep the place running and patrons satisfied.

Since everything on the menu is conducive to sharing, this is precisely what we did, going with three smallish plates and one main dish.  Here's what we tried:

Chickpea Fritter - I wasn't sure what to expect here, but what arrived surpassed what I imagined the dish to be.  Instead of small chickpeas, these were big pieces of chickpea cakes sprinkled with bright flavors such as tomatillo jam, green goddess dressing, and sweet montamore cheese. The dish was more complex than it looked and did a great job of satiating our hunger.

Grilled Baby Octopus - Another unique rendition of this dish had us talking, as it consisted of a medley of colorful ingredients.  Loving the combination of surf and turf, the octopus was bejeweled with pieces of guanciale, crispy romano beans and even pistachios for some toothsomeness.  It looked and tasted like a bright salad dish, and something I'd highly recommend to others.

Ham Frites - Who could refuse a plate full of French fries and ones sprinkled with "ham dust" no less.  That's what Dan called the magical concoction that was sprinkled on top of the fries in a liberal fashion.  It was all good and made for a total glutton fest that we willfully devoured.

Crisp Braised Pork Shank - The piece-de-resistance of the evening was the pork shank, which came with a knife sticking out the top.  It came in handy for sure, as we demolished it and treated it almost like pulled pork.  The non traditional sides of homemade naan, ribbons of roasted squash and a spicy Korean-style dressing made us swoon and even made some of us break our gluten free streak (not saying who).  

Service and Cost:
Since we sat at the bar, our bartender doubled up as our waitress.  She was a bit hard to connect with at first since she had a quirky and somewhat strange manner, but in the end we chatted and got along nicely and I think she enhanced our experience.  

Costs are moderate and set us back about $65 in total including tax and tip.  If you find yourself in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood, I highly recommend a visit to this tasty establishment.

3 Mmmms

The Girl and the Goat - 809 West Randolph Street, Chicago IL 60607

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