Archive for the ‘Morgan’ Category

Little Goat Diner

I have been looking forward to visiting the Little Goat Diner on West Randolph St with eager anticipation for quite some time now. I have been to Stephanie Izard’s Flagship restaurant the Girl in the Goat  a few times and I really love that place but it is so hard to get a table. There are no reservations at the Diner, so all I was hoping to need to get a table was a little patience. We headed over to the RandoIph Street Restaurant area riding the elevated railway up to the Morgan stop and taking the short 5 minute walk south. The Diner was pretty easy to spot as I walked down Randolph Street as there is a big white revolving goat on the top of the building. I kind of wanted to stop and watch it spin around for a while but I knew that inside there was going to be a whole lot of tasty food just waiting for us.

It was pretty busy inside and much bigger than I was expecting, with commnunal tables, booths, and counter top service, I would guess it could seat close to 100 people. As expected once inside it was a case of first come first served as there is no reservations, but we didn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes. One nice touch is that if you have a cell phone they will send you a text message when your table is ready so you don’t have to hang around. The good thing was that we got a bit of time to sit and peruse the menu to see what the Little Goat had to offer us for lunch.

Sandwich Menu

At first I had planned to have some sort of breakfast type item maybe some eggs and bacon, or perhaps maybe a corned beef hash? Then on the walk over I starting thinking that maybe I should have something goat related, a burger perhaps. Then as I started to cast my eyes down the menu, it all changed as I saw the two words ‘Grilled Cheese’. Ever since I heard that Grahamwich had shuttered and his dream of a grilled cheese sandwich was removed from the memories of my mouth I had wondered where my next go-to grilled cheese was going to come from. Could this be the one? Would Steph and her Little Goat team come to the rescue with a new grilled cheese to hang my hopes and sandwich dreams upon?

Grilled Cheese at Little Goat Diner

The sandwich was fantastic, it was nothing that I wanted and yet everything that I wanted at the same time. I still had a memory map of Graham’s sandwich etched in my mind and it needed something special to dissolve the synaptic threads holding that memory in place. This was a very different Grilled Cheese sandwich beast indeed. Filled with smoked gouda and smoked tomato, well would you be surprised to hear that it has a smokey backnote?  Then you add in the sweet almost tangy and creamy Montamore cheese and you were getting a good combination of creaminess and smokiness. I needed to know more about this cheese so I googled it and on the Sartori website I found the following description “Like a new romance, this sweet, creamy and fruity cheese begins with a deliciously inviting appearance and finishes with a playful, tangy bite”. Yes that it what I was getting from the bite into my sandwich. The sandwich wasn’t finished yet with its assault upon my tastebuds, they had also thrown in some pork guanciale (typically an unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowl) which was less prominent flavor wise than I had expected. It was better than having salty pancetta, it did add a little light saltiness but not too much perhaps there was just a hint of pepperiness. I am imagining that you probably have figured out that I quite liked this sandwich, and the best part? it was only $10.

Sandwich

My companion had the Pork Belly Pancake for $12, this was a scallion pancake topped with grilled pork belly with hoisin sauce all  covered with a  shredded bok choy salad and a ginger maple dressing. I didn’t get to taste any of this and the verdict I was given was “absolutely delicious”

Little Goat Diner and Little Goat BreadLittle Goat Bread

After we had finished our lunch and I was still salivating from my sandwich we wandered next door into the attached Little Goat Bread. Initially we had just intended to get a roll or bit of bread to make a sandwich with later. I was pretty surprised to find a bar and a whole load more sandwiches and soups that we could buy to take home. Luckily we were pretty full or we would have been buying even more food.

Little Goat Soup OptionsLittle Goat Chili

As it was I finally did get my hands on something goat related, buying a cup of Goat Chili for my supper. This was also very good, and to be fair I didn’t expect anything less. It was surprisingly a little sweet, but that was a nice surprise, it made it a little bit different. There was a bit of spice not too much of a hit and there were some crunchy chickpeas in there. If anything it had a morroccan air about it. If I was passing by this way as the weather gets colder this would be a perfect hit to blow those chills away.

I really liked the Little Goat Diner, it was just what I hoped for, and the Little Goat Bread next door was an added bonus. It was hard not to spend the entire post talking about that grilled cheese sandwich, and I will just have to see if I have the will power to try something else if I visit again. Odds are thought that will be an epic fail in originality of menu choice and I will succumb to another Grilled Cheese.

The Little Goat Diner is at 820 W RANDOLPH ST. CHICAGO, IL 60607, Little Goat Bread is next door.

The nearest El Stop is on the Pink Line at Morgan.

Little Goat Diner on Urbanspoon

Little Goat Bread on Urbanspoon

Publican Quality Meats sign

Publican Quality Meats is in the Fulton Market district of Chicago and is easily accessible from the Pink Line via Morgan or Clinton El stop stations. It is part of Paul Kahan’s notable empire, and is right across the road from The Publican Resturant. Not only is it a purveyor of quality meats and associated meat related deli products, but it also houses a small cafe area selling freshly made sandwiches. The seating inside is limited and communal in nature. We ended up sharing a table with two guys from Indiana who stop in about once a month. You really have to be a dedicated soul if you make that much effort to come here as this place is not in the middle of the lunchtime footfall traffic. I thought that we had done well taking three different trains to get here. Even so it was packed out, so a lot of people are going out of their way to come here. We arrived at about ten to twelve and we got the last two seats, but people were coming and going all the time and I didn’t see too many people having to wait for long.

‘But what about the food?” I hear you wonder

Sandwich Menu

Checking out the sandwich menu I was almost tempted to get the PB&L as this was listed in Chicago Magazines top 50 sandwiches edition. On the menu it is listed as lamb and pork belly sausage, feta, cilantro and piperade on a franks n’ dawgs lobster roll for $10. Chicago magazine had a great line describing it thus; “It’s like the quarteback on a team packed with future Hall-of- Famers.” I kind of like that analogy. The only thing that stopped me getting this sandwich is that I thought that it was basically a hot dog, and a Frank ‘n’ Dawgs style dog at that, and I was in Frank ‘n’ Dawgs already once this week so needed something slightly different.

Publican BLT

I had a look around the table to see what the other people had ordered and one of the guys next to us had got the BLT sandwich. He seemed very pleased with himself, telling me that it was the best bacon that he had eaten, and told us that it was $3 a slice over the road at Publican. It looked so good that I was sold on getting one for myself.

The sandwich is made from some really solid PQM bacon, it is not crispy or crunchy, but it is a really solid bite. Somewhere between caramalised and a jerky texture. It also has some thickly cut slices of tomato, some fresh crunchy lettuce and a light lemony aioli. The bread was a thinly sliced sourdough, which was a little hard and crunchy, but for once this worked really well with this sandwich. At $9 pretty good value as by all accounts there was at least $5 worth of PQM bacon in it. Apart from the bacon, the other star turn was the lemon aioli, it was not too strong and just gave a light hint of creamy lemon to every other mouthful. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Publican Pork Belly Sandwich Pork Belly Half Slice

The other sandwich that we got was the Pork Belly Sandwich, so good and popular that it sold out during the time we were there. I would say that almost every other sandwich that passed by us on the way to other tables was one of the Pork Belly 0nes. This sandwich was comprised of braised pork belly, romesco verde, watercress, apple, mint and yogurt on a ciabatta, all for just $10. The star of this morsel was the braised pork belly, which was thick, very well seasoned and  full of flavour. There was a lovely bit of luscious pork fat that was crisped to perfection. The apple, mint, and yoghurt gave an almost tzatziki like taste. The romesco verde gave the sandwich a nice spicy kick. Last but by no means least was the bread. When it said it was a ciabatta I was worried that it might be a bit hard, but it wasn’t at all, it was a lovely piece of bread and the perfect vessel to present the pork belly and all it’s tasty friends.

Publican Quality Meats

I could carry on and tell you in great detail about the displays of great meats and charcuterie, but I feel I need to leave you hanging just a little bit. if you are not near enough to make your own journey here to see for yourself, you can get a good idea if you check it all out on their website; http://publicanqualitymeats.com

Everyone was very friendly both customers and staff alike, the service was excellent, our waitress well informed about the product, and appeared proud and delighted to be working there.

Definately a destination sandwich spot.

Publican Quality Meats on Urbanspoon

The Girl and Goat on Randolph Street is one of my favourite destinations, I admit that initially I was drawn due to my Top Chef interests as it is owned and run by Stephanie Izzard winner of season 4, but now I go there as it is a cool unpretenious and comfortable spot to eat some pretty damn good food. The food is served family style, which I have learnt here that means that which ever dish is cooked first comes first. It is not too fussy to make you uncomfortable and has enough twists on the dishes to make you feel as though you are getting something a bit more special than you are going to get at a general resturant or pub type bistro. The service is also excellent they always are able to describe the food and make sure that you get a good combination.

The menu is split into four sections, vegetable, fish, meat, and goat. I find that the best plan is to get something from each section. Instead of sitting there typing in the descriptions on my phone I figured it was easier to take a picture of the menu. So we ordered, in no particular order, the sauteed green beans, the diver scallops, the crisp braised pork shank, and the goat liver mousse.

The Goat Liver Mousse platter, came first and it was much larger than I expected, I chose it thinking that I would be getting just a little bit of mousse  and one crumpet to spread it on, in the end we got five large crumpets and a great big pot of goat liver mousse. There were also three more pots to accompany the platter, a pot of pickles, a pot of watermelon salad, and pot of blackberries in a mostada. Our server suggested that we made mini crumpet sandwiches with all of the ingredients and against my better judgement I followed the suggestion. My better judgement was wrong the combinaton was great both flavour wise and with the texture too.

Diver Scallops

My choice was the diver scallops, these did not look quite as pretty in the bowl, but they did once I had fished one out to the plate. They were really nicely seared so that the top was almost caramelized, they were plump and sweet, really, really good. They came with an interesting combination of things, one of the best items was the crunchy and charred bok choi, which wasn’t mentioned in the menu description but was a star alongside the scallops. There was also some fruit slices, which I am never keen on in principle, but somehow here they always manage to get just right.

I have had the sauteed green beans here before and they are one of my favourite dishes at the goat. With the addition of the fish sauce vinaigrette and the cashews, it is reminscent of chop suey with the beans replacing the noodles, salty and creamy too.

Sadly once the Crisp braised pork shank arrived we were a bit stuffed and full, but we pushed on and consumed the entire platter. The meat was really tasty, the crispy bits on the outside were the best bit (as always) and the pork fell away from the bone in nice big pieces that could be dipped into the accompanying sauces, the butter milk, and a sort of buffalo sauce. It was best to mix a bit of the two together to get a nicely balanced sauce. I made a few small sandwiches with the naan bread but in the end I just devoured down the meat, resisting the temptation at the end to suck on the bone.

I know that some people go on about the hype around the Girl and Goat and that it is overrated, but I ignore the hype and I just love eating here, even if it does take about 3 months to get a reservation. My advice is to logon to opentable every couple of weeks and stack up the bookings, that way you always have one coming up (planning ahead). It is worth the wait and even if you haven’t a booking you can take a chance and turn up, there always seems to be people in the bar area getting some goodies to eat.

Girl and Goat is located at 809 W Randolph St, easily reachable by dropping off the El at the new Morgan St station on the Pink Line and then walking one block across to Randolph Street. Website: http://www.girlandthegoat.com/, you can also follow on Twitter and Facebook via the site

Girl & the Goat on Urbanspoon

 

A week or so back I headed down to the Taste of Randolph really as an excuse to travel to the newly opened Morgan El Station on the orange line. This station has opened up the Randolph Street corridor to the El rider, as you descend from the platform,  if you walk South about 5 minutes along Morgan Street you hit Randolph St right in the centre.

On this particular trip I was taking advantage of the Taste of Randolph Street for inspiration (or at a $10 donation was it taking advantage of me?)

I was slightly perturbed by the lack of anything out of the ordinary, and even more perturbed thinking that I could have just walked along the sidewalk and popped into the various resturants and saved myself $10 for the right  to look at them from a distance and eat some of their food from a warmer in a fenced off strip down the middle of the road.

Despite the fact that I did get to hit a new El Stop, I was being grumpy, but come on now there must be something here, just look harder, and be less fussy.

 

I did find one Diamond in the rough, that was Belly Q, touted as Modern Asian Barbecue, and coming soon to the Randolph Street corridor. They had a stall at the festival and their sandwiches were looking pretty tasty as I saw them leave on other peoples hands. In particular the Beef Sandwich with Curry mayo looked good, so I snagged one and headed off into the shade to try it out.

It may not have looked too much but flavour wise it was a revelation. The thinly sliced beef had been marinated and was dripping both with juice and chin dribbling mess. Randomly sliced carrots got in the way a bit, but they did add crunch, on top was a really nice dollop of curried mayo, a bit like the sauce you make coronation chicken with. It worked as a sandwich, and it was enough to entice me to try out  the resturant when it opens  

Belly Q is headed up by Chef Bill Kim who also has Urban Belly and Bellyshack in their stable. Soon to be open at 1400 W Randolph

Website: http://www.bellyqchicago.com/

BellyQ on Urbanspoon