Dining Outside at The Girl & The Goat, Los Angeles
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.