Tag chicago restaurant

Parties That Cook’s Chicago Team Treat: An Evening at Girl & the Goat

This blog is brought to you by Parties That Cook’s Chicago team! In lieu of Chicago’s traditional cookbook club this quarter, PTC lead chef David Avila recently hosted fellow PTC chefs Heidi, Molly and Brandy at Chicago’s hottest restaurant: Girl & the Goat. David runs the restaurant’s prep kitchen five days a week, so he treated the girls to an evening of delicious food and offered nuggets of insider information about the history and creation of each dish.

David said the Girl & the Goat team does all their own pickling – and a lot of it! He has even been out to the local farms, such as Slagel Family Farms, where Girl & The Goat sources meat and produce from. Sounds like the definition of farm-to-table dining.

After delivering a bottle of vodka and bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to the kitchen chefs, Heidi, Molly and Brandy sat and sipped cocktails. They then enjoyed two delicious breads made just for them: A hearty pretzel bread with a perfectly crunchy crust paired with a horseradish butter and a “corny” corn bread with a sweet and spicy corn relish. One of the restaurant’s owners stopped by their table and gave them the scoop on “Top Chef” winner Stephanie Izard’s new retro-inspired diner opening this fall, “The Little Goat”. Talk about getting the VIP treatment!

Then the food started coming.

Of course, Heidi, Molly and Brandy let David order for them. They nibbled on bites of pretty much everything. First up was the Roasted Cauliflower with pickled peppers, pine nuts, and mint. Yum! The girls also got a taste of the Grilled Edamame with smoky blue cheese and rosemary. The consensus was that the smoky blue cheese melted over the edamame put it over the top in the best way. The Squash Blossom Rangoon with crab, chive yogurt and toasted almonds was delish, as was the Chickpea Fritters with eggplant-tomatillo caponata and mozzarella. The texture of the fritters was amazing and the fact that they sat on top of a bed of mozzarella made the dish that much better!

The Seared Tuna came up next – served with a delicious crumbled lamb sausage, grilled blueberries and pepitas. Yes, I said grilled blueberries! David explained that the grilling is done by putting a cooling rack on a hot grill and then “spilling” the blueberries on the rack. This was Heidi’s favorite dish of the night, while Brandy’s favorite was the Kalbi style beef ribs. She further explained, “It melted in my mouth and was served over the cutest corn coblettes and topped with charred okra.” There was more, including some oysters that were to-die-for, but if you couldn’t guess by the photos, it’s time to move on to desserts.

The group ordered all four desserts offered that night. They enjoyed the Chocolate Bouchon with a foie fluff and the Brown Sugar Cake with goat cheese mousse of the most perfect texture, but the highlight hands down was the Pork Fat Doughnuts with house-made honey yogurt and lemony eggplant. While eating, Molly shared the tale of a former job where she had to serve homemade donuts from a machine every night. Though she would normally curse a doughnut, she scraped the plate on this one.

All in all, it was an amazing experience and Heidi, Molly and Brandy thank David and the staff at Girl & the Goat for a wonderful night.

I’d like to thank Heidi, Molly and Brandy for a wonderful blog!

Parties That Cook Explores the Unconventional: Pay-What-You-Want Restaurant Pricing

There’s a new Chicago restaurant in the works that’s generating a lot of buzz these days. Most recently, it was a Daily Candy article that sparked my interest in ING. No, I didn’t forget the verb in this present participle. ING happens to stand for Imagining New Gastronomy; and executive chef Thomas Bowman does just that. Not only does he use miracle berries (a REAL African fruit that has the power to make sour and bitter foods taste sweet) in some dishes, but there is a pay-by-the-hour option for those who live by a schedule.

Call me silly, but it was the unconventional pricing structure that really caught my attention. (We’ll save the miracle berries for another day.) I couldn’t help but wonder what other ways restaurants are making a profit– or at least covering costs.

Research led me to a few restaurants that actually have faith in their fellow man –and woman! One World Cafés in Baltimore & Salt Lake City, SAME (So All Might Eat) Café in Denver, and Panera Bread Foundation’s Panera Cares Cafés throughout the country all implement pay-what-you-want pricing. Because they use the freshest of ingredients, menus change daily at some of these restaurants. Prices are suggested, but not enforced. At One World Café, if a customer does not have enough to meet the suggested price, they are encouraged to volunteer their time in the garden or kitchen. Neither SAME Café, nor Panera Cares Café even has a cash register! Instead, a donation box is available for patrons to pay what they felt their meal was worth, or to leave a little more and help out someone less fortunate.

You might have a hard time believing that, for the most part, these cafes don’t have issues with funding –I can’t be the only skeptic! Sure, some people take advantage of the lack of set prices, but most people meet suggested price levels if they donate generously. This must explain why the US is not alone in implementing this pricing structure –we aren’t even the first to try it out!

If you have the opportunity to, definitely stop in and visit one of these amazing cafes! Who wouldn’t want to support an organization whose philosophy is “that everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat healthy food while being treated with dignity”?