the stumbling goat
the stumbling goat was the first restaurant i remember hearing tout local-seasonal-organic as their byline. this was several years ago, yet i only just made it there last week. in the meantime, however, i’ve eaten at countless restaurants that have adopted a similar mantra. i’ve found some favorites, use them as benchmarks, but am always curious to see how different chefs express the concept in their own way.
the goat is wonderfully neighborhoody, with tables spilling onto the sidewalk. the dining room is funky, not at all sleek, with dark red walls, low lighting, and drapes (were there drapes? or just the impression of drapes?). when we sat, the windows and doors were thrown open so we got breeze without chill.
the menu is short and contains the expected meats (halibut, chicken, pork loin, grass fed beef). the wine list is significantly longer and far more diverse.
we began with prosecco and gazpacho. when it’s hot out, i could live off these two things. and if i had to, i’d want it to be this gazpacho. it was the prime example of ingredients – mint, cucumber, watermelon – so fresh that they needed only to be chopped and combined. the acid and salt levels were just where they needed to be to compliment the produce.
the clams, however, didn’t follow the gazapacho formula. while the clams themselves were fresh and clean tasting, their sauce didn’t beg me to dip my bread into it. perhaps more of the sliced fennel, or a big squeeze of lemon could have helped things along. though sausage was present, it was in medallion form and awkward to eat with the clams.
but then there were the mini wagyu beef burgers. like the gazpacho, uncomplicated but just right. the cheddar and sweet onion jam didn’t hurt, but most of the credit should go to the fact that the meat was fantastic, and allowed to just show this off in the burgers.
the same can’t be said for the thundering hooves grass-fed beef. the preparation of the beef changes daily, and we, as per the menu’s instruction, asked our server for the day’s selection. the beef was slow cooked and wrapped in pork belly fat to form two balls (our server was right when she said there was no other way to describe them). peas and carrots completed the dish. with the carrots arranged properly, it was an amusing combination.
the veggies were well done, the meat underwhelming. the caul fat peeled off like skin in a rather unattractive way, instead of melting into the meat as it might have. when the name of the farm is listed on the menu, i tend to expect high quality meat, meat that can hold up when served simply and with little preparation.
our dessert, however, was lovely. a mini tart was full of caramel and hazelnuts, with just a touch of salt. a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate covered it beautifully, with just three candied hazelnuts on top. it wasn’t wacky or brand new, but was just what i needed to get the balls out of my mind.
i was minorly disappointed by the goat, but not to the extent that all hope is extinguished. i’ve heard something about recent staff loss/changes in the kitchen and have no reason to think things couldn’t easily become – or return to being – great.