After coming back from a trip to Chicago, everyone will ask if you ate at Girl & the Goat, one of the city’s most well known restaurants. I needed to see for myself if the restaurant was worth all the hype.
A few years after winning Top Chef season 4, Chef Stephanie Izard (the first female chef to win) partnered with BOKA restaurant group’s Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm to open up Girl & the Goat in 2010. Two years later, the nearby Little Goat Diner opened and more recently, the Asian-inspired Duck Duck Goat opened in early 2016.
Girl & the Goat is open seven days a week for dinner and despite the restaurant’s enormous size, reservations are highly recommended. But if you don’t plan far enough in advance, they welcome walk-in’s – just be prepared for a wait. The large restaurant offers a variety of seating options including comfy lounge seating, bar seating and regular seating in the dining room.
The menu here is quite extensive so I recommend visiting with a larger group. There were too many great choices which made it tough narrowing down what to order. The dishes are quite eclectic and are all served family-style. You can choose from vegetarian dishes ranging from $8 for warm marinated olives to $16 for blue cheese sweet potato pierogies, fish dishes from $16 for Hamachi crudo to $18 for grilled cuttle fish and meat dishes from $7 for ham frites to $26 for crispy braised pork shank. They also offer a selection of bread for $5 each, oysters and goat dishes (of course) like goat liver mousse and goat empanadas.
Girl & the Goat has some pretty tempting bread options including cranberry pecan rye and Johnny applecheese (with chili cheddar and apple butter). We decided to go with Mrs. Sweet Potato – craisin apple relish, caramelized onion & blue cheese butter ($5). I was hesitant to order this one since I’m not a big fan of blue cheese but our server put my worries to ease. The blue cheese flavor in the butter was very subtle with the predominant flavor being the sweet caramelized onions. The sweet potato bread itself was delicious but it’s a lot for two people. With so many great dishes on the menu, it’d be a detriment to fill up on bread.
Up next was the Calamari Bruschetta – clam baguette, goat milk ricotta, goat bacon, green apples ($17). The calamari was ridiculously tender and we loved the combination of the creamy ricotta, tart green apples and the fatty bits of goat bacon. That goat bacon was something else! I’d totally order it on its own if it was offered as a side.
If there’s one thing you need to order at Girl & the Goat, it has to be the Sautéed Green Beans – fish sauce vinaigrette & cashews ($12) aka the best thing ever. The green beans were sautéed to perfection, still retaining a nice crispiness, and the dressing was really incredible. It’s a creamy mayo-based dressing with an appetizing tang to it from the fish sauce. We actually found the recipe online and tried it out at home. Surprisingly, it turned out just as delicious as the restaurant. It’ll definitely be going into our repertoire.
One of the signature dishes here is the Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face – sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro, red wine maple, potato stix ($19). And for those wondering why it’s called pig face, it’s because it’s literally made out of a pig’s face. But don’t expect a face to be staring back at you when the dish arrives. The various parts of the head are formed into the shape of a patty. It’s topped with an oozy sunny side up egg and potato ‘stix’ (like Hickory sticks) for a nice crunch. There a ton of different flavours going on in this dish, so make sure you give it a good mix first before digging in.
With a name like Girl & the Goat, we couldn’t leave without trying a goat dish. We decided on the Confit Goat Belly – bourbon butter, lobster & crab, fennel ($19). Unfortunately, it was the only dish of the evening that wasn’t particularly memorable. I might’ve enjoyed it another time but following the rich and heavy pig face, the belly was just too much. Even though it was a small piece of belly, we had trouble finishing it because it was really heavy. Goat belly on its own (or any belly, really) is super rich but layer butter on top and it’s richness to a whole new level. On a side note, the “surf” portion of the dish (lobster and crab) were cooked perfectly.
Girl & the Goat offers several desserts for $9 each. Since our server spoke so highly of the Caramel Corn & Malt Balls – vanilla malt gelato, popcorn caramel, chocolate magic shell ($9), we decided to give it a try. It was a fun and simple dish consisting of delicious bites of caramel corn, chewy caramels and scoops of malt gelato covered in hard chocolate. Incredibly satisfying!
Overall, we had a fantastic experience at Girl & the Goat. After all these years, it’s still one of the hottest tickets in town and it’s easy to see why.
At a glance:
- One of the most well-known restaurants in Chicago
- Opened in 2010 by Top Chef season 4 winner Stephanie Izard who also owns Little Goat Diner and Duck Duck Goat
- Enormous restaurant in West Loop with a globally-inspired menu
- Open 7 days a week; reservations recommended
- Extensive menu; would be best to dine with a group of 4 or more people
- Highlights: Calamari bruschetta, sautéed green beans, roasted pig face
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 4 stars
- Service: 4 stars
- Atmosphere: 4 stars