Does “THE GIRL” have game?


I went to Stephanie Izard’s restaurant “The Girl and the Goat” (a very hip and hot ticket item here in Chicago) several nights ago as a guest in a small private dining room.  We were served a tasting menu which I believed featured many of the items on the menu.

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Starters were warm marinated olives of different varieties, and a flatbread of chorizo and goat cheese.  Sourdough and pretzel bread presentations had nice alternatives to butter to accompany them.  The flatbread was good, but not stellar.  A kohlrabi salad with fennel and blueberry was next, but the ginger dressing was not particularly assertive, and it needed to be.  Chickpea fritters were served with a very nice farm mozzarella, and was one of the best dishes of the night.   Seared scallops with a pumpkin branade and fried slices of Brussels sprouts had a nice taste, but the scallops were slightly overcooked.  Hen of the woods mushroom ragout was next, and I thought these were nicely prepared and presented.  A series of pan fried shishito peppers with parmesan and a little sesame miso had nice flavor, and were not too spicy.  Sautéed green beans in a fish sauce vinaigrette had nice flavor, but slightly overdone.  A roasted cauliflower dish was undistinguished.  The steamed mussels were excellent, with a nice goat sausage crouton.

The next series were meat preparation.  Sugo ( a variation on Bolognese or ragu) with linguini was notable only for the inclusion of cape gooseberries, which elevated an otherwise mundane dish.  Kalbi style beef ribs (a sort of Korean marinade {also known as Galbi} of soy sauce, garlic and sugar)  didn’t work for me, as the meat was rather tough, despite being thinly sliced.  the pork ribs were another nicely prepared and presented item, but not what I would consider outstanding.

You can see the menu had pig face.  I have noticed a trend on the part of many new restaurants to present what used to be considered offal as a wonderful and new culinary experience.  There is a reason that cheeks, and face were considered discards, and I wonder if the reason that all these new chefs use these throwaways to convince us that they can turn crap into haute cuisine, or is it a joke on us at little expense to them?  I don’t what to eat face, hooves, jowls, intestine, or stomach.  I have, and I don’t like it!  The pig face is presented like bacon, but it is far to fatty to enjoy, even much more fatty in character and taste than pork belly (another hot food trend).  No sauce or treatment can hide the basic meat/fat in the dish.  Thank you, but no thanks!

Desserts represent another trend that I deplore—the need to mix sweet with savory.  I’m sorry, but blue cheese ice cream (even with the blue cheese muted) is an oxymoron to me.  It tasted OK, but it is not something in balance and is nothing that I would like to have again.  It was served on a plate with diced sautéed apples, which is akin to apples and cheese service, but this combination that didn’t work as well as a traditional cheese service would.  Pork fat doughnuts tried to be like beignets, but missed the mark, although the carmelized figs needed to be more in the foreground on that plate. The chocolate bouchon did not enchant either.

So, what is the take?  Izard has the ability to create a great meal, but is too into the need to try to show us how she can take pigs ears and turn them to gold.  I’d like to see her use of better cuts of goat, pig, and beef, and enhance them with new presentations and sauces.  I will definitely give her restaurant another try, but with careful picks off her regular menus.

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About trustforce

A well trained amateur chef, I cook and enjoy many different cuisines. I can enjoy a great Chicago style hot dog or an Italian beef sandwich, or have equal pleasure from haut cuisine. The fun is getting it right, whether I make it or someone makes it for me. The big problem that I have with eating out is that I know too much about restaurants and I find it hard to ignore or forgive sloppy technique or bad ingredients. I pull no punches in my restaurant reviews! All my recipe postings are extensively tested by me unless I state otherwise (I will sometimes post a recipe that sounds like it should be good before I actually make it myself) and when I am not the originator they are correctly attributed to the source author, even if I have modified the recipe. Untested recipes that have been posted are revised once they have been made and evaluated in an effort to keep old posts accurate and current.
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