October 2, 2010

Girl & the Goat @ Chicago

Top Chef is one of my favourite reality series. So when the chance to dine at Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard's new restaurant came, I jumped on the boat. Although I was slightly concerned with the name "Girl & the Goat" (I hate eating lamb), I figured that there was bound to be non-goat items on the menu. And after all, how can I miss the opportunity to meet top chef herself?
First up, the smokey whipped fat back with bourbon onions and biscuits. Basically, lard is whipped into a butter-like consistency, spread over biscuit and accompanied by a sprinkle of sea salt and bourbon onions. Lard has quite a distinct aroma that really elevates what is essentially a butter and biscuit appetizer. This takes me back to memories of eating in Taiwan, where everything is basically cooked with lard. On a side note, the fattiness makes this dish overwhelming if one consumes too much.
I don't think I can rave enough about the next dish that arrived, the smoked goat pizza, with apple soffrito, black kale, ricotta and cipollini. Initially, I was less than thrilled when my goat-loving sister decided to order this at the recommendation of our server (I've had horrible experience with goat cheese pizza in the past). However, I completely fell in love with this pizza. I struggle to name one element that really stood out, but altogether the ingredients and flavours really merged miraculously to make this an unforgettable pizza. It is probably one of the best that I've ever had, and I wish I can find this in Toronto.
I happily gobbled up five pieces! It was like gourmet pizza heaven. I didn't even mind the goat at all!
Crisp soft shell crab with sweet corn, lime and chili aioli. This was a crowd pleaser, well executed and delicious. The corn provided just the sweet balance that the crispy deep fried goodness needed. However, having sampled too many similarly prepared soft shell crab in the Asian cuisine scene, I was not completely blown away by this this dish. Nevertheless, it was an excellent addition to our meal.
Arriving late in our meal was the tortone bread, served with sweet onion butter and herb oil. I usually like to have bread at the beginning of a meal, and often find myself eating too much of it before my actual entree arrives. I enjoy bread in general, but like it a whole lot more if it was complimentary. Unfortunately this bread was not free, and I felt that in comparison to the other dishes, it was not spectacular, so I wish I had ordered something else.
Rabbit rillette, with crisp rice crepe, ginger giardinare, sweet garlic. This was my first experience eating rabbit, and I really struggle to describe its texture. It reminded me of chicken and fish simultaneously. All in all, I thought it was a good dish, but not as memorable as some of the other fares.
Finally, we got the veal rib roast with veal sausage, confit tropeas, avocado and watercress. The veal was perfectly tender and juicy, and I particularly loved how all the accompanying veggies soaked up all the flavours of the meat. I don't remember the avocado at all, but in spite of that, all the elements worked well together. And after all the fat consumed, it felt really good end of this spectacular meal with some (relatively) healthy vegetables.


At the end of our meal, our server took us to meet Stephanie herself! She was perfectly charming and I giggled excitedly like a 5-year old child at Disneyland. In fact, I was so overwhelmed with excitement that both of the pictures that I helped my sister take with Stephanie turned out blurry. She was not pleased about that at all.

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