Dining Outside at The Girl & The Goat, Los Angeles
Of all the many victors through all the many seasons of “Top Chef,” arguably the most successful has been Stephanie Izard.
On Season 4, she not only triumphed but became the first woman to do so. Since then, she’s been off to the races, opening a slew of acclaimed restaurants including the Girl & the Goat in Chicago and then in Los Angeles; as well as the Little Goat Diner, the Chinese-American-influenced Duck Duck Goat, the rooftop Peruvian concept, Cabra, and the dessert shop, SugarGoat, all in Chicago.
Along the way, she nabbed the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Great Lakes” in 2013 and was named a 2011 Food & Wine “Best New Chef.”
So, when my plans to travel to Chicago to dine at Girl & the Goat got foiled in 2020 — you can guess why — I did the next best thing: My husband and I dined at the Los Angeles locale instead on a recent road trip to Southern California.
The brick building is easily recognizable by the playful goat mascot sign on it. There’s a spacious outdoor seating area right outside, which is where my husband and I dined.
It’s a great place for people watching, with folks on their way to yoga or out walking their pooches, as you sip a Peppa Fizz ($17). The tart and citrusy vodka cocktail get jazzed up with pickled kumquat and orange, plus the throat-warmth of black pepper.
Everything is made for sharing. Of course, when you dine at a restaurant whose namesake is a goat, you just have to indulge in as many goat dishes, as possible.
That meant starting with the incredible goat liver mousse ($19), which set the tone for everything to come. A long wooden board was set on the table with a bowl of the smoothest mousse that was dreamy creamy, accompanied with sweet-tangy blueberry mostarda and sweet-spicy chopped pickled veggies. Heaped on the board were crisp, super buttery crackers that were like compressed puff pastry, along with hot, just-fried crumpets with exteriors so crisp they made an audible crackling sound when bitten. Tender and airy inside, these were almost like doughnuts and just as addictive. I could have eaten these for days.
Order the sauteed greens beans ($17) because $1 is donated to the American Cancer Society, and because it’s a delightful Asian-style dish with crisp-tender beans and cashews finished with a fish-sauce vinaigrette with cashew cream.
A special that night was the goat neck with patty pan squash and melty cherry tomatoes ($32). It is presented on a big platter with some of its braising liquid poured over at tableside. Cooked sous vide, then smoked, it’s fall-apart tender. Tiny croutons are strewn over the top, which soak up all those lovely meat juices, making biting into one an extra special treat.
Likewise, the sticky pork shank ($39) is so succulent, you don’t even need a knife to pull shards off the bone. It arrives in dramatic fashion on another large board outfitted with marinated cucumbers, shiitakes, and spiced-up melon with the taste akin to kimchi. Take one of the accompanying large lettuce leaves or puffy pita and add a little of everything, including a swipe of hoisin mayo and hot mustard aioli, to make your own stuffed lettuce cups or pita sandwich full of assertive flavors.
For dessert, there’s miso butterscotch budino ($15) spooned into a bowl with crunchy-sticky spiced tuile crumbled overtop with passion fruit honey and a fluff of honey whip. The miso is subtle, adding the merest back note of savoriness and saltiness like a salted caramel would. The passion fruit comes on strong with tropical tartness, making this not an overly sweet dessert.
One day, I still hope to make it to the original Girl & the Goat in Chicago. For now, this one in LA will do just fine.