It would be difficult to find a Chicago restaurant that is enjoying the wave of popularity that Girl & the Goat is right now. Despite its odd name -- or maybe because of it -- this rustic restaurant is stuffed full from the moment it opens until the closing bell. I know that because I figured I would beat the dinner rush when I visited recently by arriving right at the late afternoon opening time. All the tables were filled, and people were standing two-deep at the bar.
My friend and I managed to finally scootch into a standing space at the bar and ordered a couple of things to nibble on. For the record, goat is on the menu but girl is not. The restaurant is a farm-to-table concept that takes full advantage of Chicago area providers. But it also prides itself on its oysters. We ordered the wood-fired Wellfleets,which I figured would be better than anything that might come out of local Lake Michigan. They were small but not insignificant in flavor, which was enhanced with a bit of horseradish, lemon juice and a bit of bacon.
I loved the confit of goat belly, something you just don’t see too often on menus. It was just as wonderfully fatty as, say, pork belly, but with a slightly gamier taste that was ameliorated by a puddle of bourbon butter. It was served with lobster and crab meats and topped with some sprigs of greens and fennel.
We were also served a round of fresh, warm bread with a goat cheese spread. Delicious as anything.
Girl & the Goat has a farmhouse feel. Tables are wood topped and the ceiling is exposed beams. A large open kitchen fills one end of the dining room with tables close enough to be considered chef’s tables.
Service was as friendly as it was efficient.
Girl & the Goat was nominated for a James Beard Award this year. It’s sure to walk away with the prize soon.
Girl & the Goat is at 809 W. Randolph St. in Chicago’s West Loop. It is open daily at 4:30 p.m. Learn from my mistake: make a reservation. Most entrees are priced in the mid teens. Here’s a link to girlandthegoat.com. The phone number is 312-492-6262.