Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Girl and The Goat: How To Score a Table at the Hottest Restaurant in Town

While Stephanie Izard was off cooking for NATO, we were hanging out at the door of the Girl and the Goat a half hour before opening last Friday night just hoping to score a table.

What – are you crazy? The restaurant has been booked out for months. In fact, ever day since they opened.

Actually, the thought would have never crossed my mind except my friend Bill told me that he and his wife snuck into the bar area last week for lunch.

Bingo. The seed was planted and I was on a mission. What’s the old saying - Where there is a will, there’s a way.

I am convinced that the trick to getting in any good restaurant that’s booked solid for months on end is to be there when they open. We were the 3rd group in the door and got seated at the communal table in front of the open kitchen with the promsie that we would have to give our seats back by 6 PM.

Actually, I could not believe that we got a table and concluded by the end of the night that the only better seat in the house were a few to each side of the kitchen…and they come with a price and an advanced reservation.

Facing the kitchen was so much fun and to watch the staff, in orchestrated fashion, create simple but also complex culinary works of art was just short of amazing.

From the first bite to the last, this was an eating adventure that I did not want to end.

Our waiter was so knowledgeable and everyone commented on how educated he was about the food. We were hesitant to order one more dish and he did not encourage us to do so which was something totally new to me. Rather than sell us another plate, we bought into the total experience and he was definatley a huge part of it. When your staff is this well trained, you know the management cares about their customers.
The Chardonnay I selected was complete luck and absolute magic. This $65 bottle came from the Molnar Family Winery. It was full of exotic flavors and is now at the top of my wines to share with special friends.

It was actually the 2nd bottle of Molnar Chardonnay I’ve had this month and both are unmatched. Look for the 2008 Molnar Family Poseidon's Vineyard Chardonnay, Carneros, USA on the menu and Lawrence, the Girl and the Goat’s sommelier, will steer you in the right direction every time.

I have a long love affair with Cabrito (goat) and when I lived in Mexico, I headed north to Monterrey every chance I got to eat at El rey del cabrito. They had the most delicious BBQ goat and I still dream about it to this day.

As a result, I inquired about the goat legs but the smallest they had that night was an 8 pounder for a wopping $220.00.
We ordered the Goat liver mousse with crumpets instead which was the lighest mousse I’ve ever had. It was my least favorite dish of the meal…good but not my favorite. I did however love the texture of the crumpets and had visions of pairing them with poached eggs, pancetta and lemon sauce. A little of the breakfast lover in me.
We devoured the Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro, red wine-maple and potato stix. This reminded me of a similar dish at the Purple Pig only it was sweeter with their addition of the red-wine maple. The presentation was a mind's eye of colors that added so much to the finish of the dish. Visually it was stunning.

The escargot ravioli with bacon and tamarind-miso sauce was one of our favorites. The ravioli’s were stuffed with a simple escargot and the sauce?...well, this was one dish I could have ordered more of. The combination of flavors was skillful and it made me wonder who thought up this mix of ingredients in the first place? I want to jump inside their head a grab a few more recipes.
Our table mate Eric was there with his daughter and when their Crisp Braised Pork Shank with butternut-shiitake kimchee and buttermilk dressing came out, I had my wish-I-would-have-ordered that moment. They gave me a taste and it was well worth the price point. The most expensive thing on the menu besides the goat legs.

I love pork shank because it is the easiest dish to prepare and to pair and it’s got incredible flavor.

That’s one thing I enjoy about communal tables. By the time we got half way through the meal, we were all sharing dishes.
Our other table-neighbors had some of the Citrus Goat Sausage Pizza with celery root, blood orange and mountina alpine cheese leftover and shared it with us. That was delightful as well.
It was 6:00 PM and I felt like Cinderella with a curfew. As always, I wanted dessert.

Lucky for us the party that had claim to our seats were running late so we did have time to indulge in the  Butternut Malasadas with bourbon gelato, brown butter apples and Hook’s cheddar. The complexities of flavors were amazing and the waiter was totally surprised that we noticed.

The Girl and the Goat is for an adventurous foodie who is not afraid to try anything. If it’s a dish (and they change their menu up often) with ingredients that don’t look like they belong together, you will definitely want to try it.

Ok. Confession…Just writing about this dinner has triggered my taste buds once again.

I plan to be back at the front door on Friday at 4:30 PM. If you think all the hype is just hype, try to make a reservation any time soon.

Bon Appetit!

In The Neighborhood:

After dinner, we explored the West Randolph neighborhood (so may great places to dine) and the place we really fell in love with was Maude’s Liquor Bar at 840 West Randolph.
It's cute, dark, French and small so you will feel instantly at home the minute you walk in.

The bar was staffed by some entertaining mixologists who used eye droppers to master the exact measurements of each cocktail they made.
I will go back just to try the Pomme Frites and Bone Marrow so look for a follow up post.