Monday, January 7, 2013

Top Chef Winner - Food/Restaurant Review

For those of you familiar with cooking shows, Bravo's "Top Chef" is a cooking challenge where week after week chefs compete to be the last one standing. Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard opened up her own restaurant "Girl and the Goat" in Chicago's west loop neighborhood, then later opened "Little Goat" which is the diner counterpart. There's been a ton of local & national press, so perhaps you've heard of the main restaurant.  Her restaurants are ridiculously popular and you have to make reservations for Girl and the Goat like 3+ weeks ahead of time.  Little Goat doesn't do reservations, you just gotta show up. Instead of waiting for 3 weeks, a friend and I opted for the 'Little Goat'. We tried to get brunch after church and at 12:30pm, there was a 2 hour waiting time!!  The staff said the wait is similar during the week, except between 3-5pm. Sheesh. We put our name down then wandered around for a bit. We got a table after 1 hour & 20 min, so I guess that was good.

Ambiance was pleasant, a bit more than your greasy-spoon type of diner. It had a comfortable feeling and the brightly lit space was very welcoming. The menu had a lot of variety, what you'd expect at a diner... breakfast foods, sandwiches, burgers, salads, soup, entree-style stuff, breads, hot drinks, soda (or "pop" as it's called in the midwest :P) & a bar. Reasonable prices. After reading the reviews on Yelp, my friend and I decided to order and split a bowl of goat chili and a reuben sandwich. She also ordered coffee, which she didn't find particularly special. Towards the end of our meal, Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard came out and walked around the restaurant. She stopped one table away from us and was talking to a couple about life. She looked petite and seemed like a very nice, wholesome girl next door type.

Never had goat before, so this was a new venture. It had a slightly game-y taste but the sauce and other fixings covered the true taste of goat. It was slightly sweet and the beans weren't too plentiful, so it didn't make me feel bad for not being 'strict paleo'. My only gripe with the chili is that it was pretty fatty (lots of thick orange liquid... it was really too much for that amount of chili... gross) and very salty. I went through at least 3 glasses of water. Overall though, it was a creative concoction and I'm glad I tried it. I probably wouldn't order it again.

The reuben sandwich is very popular and one of the things the place was known for (they also boast a top-notch bakery with fresh-baked goods every morning). I'm not a big fan of reuben in general, but I was willing to give this one a try. It was a very messy sandwich (not to mention the bread was drenched in oil) so I removed as much bread as I could and dug in with my fork & knife. For someone who doesn't eat reubens, this one was probably the best I ever had. Wouldn't order it again though. I'd try their other sandwiches or burgers instead. Overall, service was fine... except for when the bus boy took my plate and dropped the chili-laded fork on my brand-new sweater, then told me to bring in my dry cleaning receipt and they'd pay for it. At least the wait staff was knowledgeable.

Conclusion: variety of food, fun flavor combinations, comfortable atmosphere, and reasonably priced but very long waiting time (it'll likely be that way for a long time). I'd be willing to give it another try.

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