Thus far, “Piece of Cake” has been dedicated solely to sharing recipes that appeal to college foodies, or any foodies for that matter, seeking affordable, convenient, simple, and delicious eats. It’s time to switch things up a bit. Sometimes college foodies crave a night out. To satisfy that craving, I will be posting reviews of restaurants that are unique and not over-the-top expensive. College foodies everywhere, rejoice!
First stop? Little Goat. This was no hidden treasure or dive. Chicago food magazines have been singing Little Goat’s praises for months. But my friends and I had to wait out an agonizing (ok, a bit of an exaggeration, although we were dying to get there) few months to eat at Little Goat until we were home from school for the summer. I was especially excited, being a huge Top Chef fan and more specifically a huge Stephanie Izard fan. Izard won Top Chef and went on to create The Girl and the Goat and it’s more affordable companion, Little Goat.
My friends and I caravanned down to the city on a mild, gorgeous Thursday night in late July. Parking wasn’t a problem seeing as valet wasn’t ridiculously pricey (especially split amongst the 6 of us). When we walked up to the hostess, she informed us that the current wait time was about an hour (it was around 8:00 PM) and that she would text us when our table was ready. Randolph street provided a fun little area to walk around while we waited. In addition to The Girl and the Goat, other trendy restaurants like g.e.b. and and Nellcote were fun eye candy.
When my phone buzzed about 40 mins. later with a text letting us know our table would be ready in a few minutes, we were ecstatic. We power walked back to the restaurant and back up to the hostess stand, but she informed us that it would be another few minutes. Ok, no big deal, we thought collectively. But after another 15 minutes of a rotating staff of hostesses telling us it would be just another few minutes for the table, we were visibly frustrated. We were finally seated at a comfortable booth next to a window about 20 minutes after we received the text that our table was ready.
With grumbling bellies echoing, my friends and I decided onion rings and fried pickles were needed, ASAP. Our fried plethora arrived hot and plentiful, and no one hesitated to dig in. The onion rings, while nothing special taste-wise, had a perfect crispy texture and were hot, hot, hot, just the way I like them. The fried pickles were above standard pickles because the pickle flavor really shown through even through a thick layer of breading.
We put in our orders with our very perky waitress (when we told her she resembled Emma Stone she got so excited that she looked like she could run right outside the restaurant and run a miles long victory lap) and began to wait it out for our food. The people watching and celeb spotting (my dancer friend pointed out a “very well known” Joeffrey Ballet Dancer) only lasted so long, and soon frustration kicked in. It had been about a half hour with no food or waitress in sight. A very friendly manager came over to apologize and let us know that the kitchen had a pancake-batter malfunction and that they were sending out some hot food to hold us over, all “on them.” With those magic words the grumbling in our bellies seemed to subdue. Free food is never a bad thing for a college foodie.
Soon, bowls of rich, creamy, macaroni and cheese and biscuits topped with more creamy cheese and broccoli filled the table. While it was a very nice thought by the kitchen, these foods meant to hold us over until our food was ready were cheese and cheesier, and we were left craving a little variety.
Finally, our food arrived. My friend Lauren and I both ordered the Chickpea Salad, and were surprised with the volume of food we received. That salad definitely delivers bang for its buck. It was chock full of kale, chopped veggies, a creamy goat-like cheese, hearty falafel, and came with a tsaziki sauce and a light dressing on the side. We were both left with enough salad to make a delicious lunch the next day, which I know we both took advantage of.
My friends Lena and Ellie took advantage of the “breakfast served all day” wonderfulness and ordered the blueberry pancakes. These were no ordinary blueberry pancakes. The pancakes filled a plate with about an 8 inch radius and were stacked about 10 high. A fluffy, rich cream cheese butter with a taste similar to a cream cheese frosting but less frosting-y was perched on top of the pancake tower. And the most unexpectedly best part was the oatmeal crumble generously topping the stack. Why didn’t I think of crumbling oatmeal cookies on top of my blueberry pancakes at home?! Genius. All of us were eating off of Lena and Ellie’s plates.
Fran and Lauren G. (yes, I have two friends named Lauren) ordered less exciting fish tostada and egg dishes, respectively. My advice for ordering at Little Goat? The more outrageous and unique sounding entrees on the menu are often the most surprisingly delicious.
We were stuffed. And after being at the restaurant for over two hours, we were ready to go. But Emma Stone aka our waitress peppily announced that Danny was treating us to dessert. My dad had been in the area and had stopped by the restaurant earlier in the meal. He had somehow sneakily found a way to treat us to dessert.
Soon, we were feasting on sundaes, milkshakes, and mini pies. The cookie pie was a classic skillet cookie dish. The blueberry mini pie, however, was made unique by being topped with goat cheese gelato. YUM. The “Cheet-It” Sundae, which was described on the menu as “peanut butter chocolate. strawberry. yum” was exactly that. I have NO idea what was in it, but it was filled with crunchy and smooth textures and one of the most amazing strawberry ice creams I have ever eaten.
Taste wise, Little Goat lives up to the hype. The menu items are unique, the flavor combinations inventive, and the portions generous. However, for a college foodie short on time and money, the long wait time and pricey foods would make Little Goat more of a special occasion destination.