As I already gave away, Chicago's best restaurant for me is... Girl and The Goat!
Why did it take me while to say this since the restaurant opened in 2010?
This is the kind of restaurant that when you call to make a reservation you are told "we have a table available for you 4 months from now".
When you hear that, you get initially disappointed, frustrated, and even a little bit angry at the fact that you have to wait that long to try a place. But then again, it's a wonderful thing that we have this great new restaurant in town for people to get excited about.
I went ahead and made a reservation and they called 4 months later to confirm the reservation. But by then my enthusiasm has slowed down and I didn't even feel like trying it so I declined the table. Feeling slightly good about saying "No", like it's revenge for making me wait.
I also had a couple of friends who weren't too impressed with the food. Oh well, how easily we get influence by others....... Since then, we went and tried the food at the lobby/bar area where you don't need a reservation. The food was pretty good but I still had some reservations about giving a good review. I normally don't want to be in the first group of people trying to get in to a hyped-up place.
#1. I don't feel like I'm in hurry, #2. I usually get disappointed since I have built up such high expectations.
By chance, we had friends visiting us from Barcelona, I called to see if they had a table for Saturday that week. Since it's been more than 2 years that I initially called for a reservation, I was pretty sure the demand has subdued somewhat. To my surprise, not only was the demand the same but there was a canceled reservation and we were able to get a table, whew!
So here is my official verdict on Girl & The Goat. It is Excellent.
The food, service, and the rustic, dark ambience all work great together. Even though it's a crowded place, the tables were large enough to make you feel comfortable and endure the noise factor w/o feeling like you are getting a headache (sign of aging?).
Each dish we ordered was thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by the whole table. Two thumbs up for The Girl, Stephanie Izard who was the winner of 2008 season 4 Top Chef, US cooking show, has done it right. Even great restaurants have great dishes and not so great dishes. My first try at the Girl and The Goat was ordering a couple of not so great dishes along with good ones. I am a believer in that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. So make sure you have a list of good recommended dishes you want to order before you sit down which I did.
These were what's on my list, Pan Fried Shishito Peppers, Roasted Cauliflower, Kohlrabi Salad, Grilled Baby Octopus, Skate Wing, Grilled Skirt Steak, Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face, and Wood Fired Water's Chicken. And the Miso Bread!
If you are in Chicago for one day, I can easily say 'Go to Girl and the Goat!'
Cheers to all the great food experience in 2013 and here we come 2014 hungry and eager!