mom’s night out: girl & the goat

Hope is one of my best friends at work. We work really closely together, we talk just about every day, and she makes me laugh harder than many people can. The only problem? She lives 2,120 miles away in Portland, Oregon, and I only get to see her a few times a year. 

She was in town this week for work, and it was the best to be able to say “good morning” and razz her in person. She also kept spoiling me with Mindy’s Hot Chocolate pastries from the Revival Food Hall. Diet starts after the Super Bowl?

On Thursday we planned to go to dinner, with Au Cheval in mind. Upon arrival (around 5:20 pm), frozen from the frigid temperature, the wait was an hour to an hour and twenty minutes (the cheeseburger IS one of a kind, I can vouch for it). But we decided to hustle across Randolph to Girl & the Goat. Immediate seating at the bar was perfect; Hope was excited because she’d been wanting to dine here!

It was my third time at Girl & the Goat (post-wedding and pre-baby, I loved to live it up), and it was exactly how I remembered it. The beautiful decor with exotic details and textures, the hustle of a good wait staff, the delicious smells of high-quality and innovative dishes, the beautiful craft cocktails waiting to be sipped…should I keep going?

I asked for a dairy-free menu (Stephanie Izard is very accommodating to those of us with food allergies and intolerances at all of her restaurants, much appreciated), to balance out my meal and make sure I didn’t overdo it. It’s hard for me to show restraint to gouda bread with smoked lard butter and romesco. So I didn’t.

I also had the Boondock Saints cocktail (a tasty chilled Hot Toddy), a glass of still rosé, braised beef tongue, grilled cuddlefish, the famous sautéed green beans, and the most decadent and fantastic crumpets I’ve ever tasted in my life (served with goat liver mousse, rosemary pickles, grapefruit preserves, and persimmon marmalade, of course). 

This meal was out…of…this…world. It is so hard for me to justify a meal like this now, but I can’t tell you the last time I had a foodie dinner. It felt nice to enjoy a well-cooked (understatement) meal with Hope, and have time outside of work to catch up and be silly. Those meals and moments are priceless. Xo

Goodbye, West Loop

Dear West Loop,

Thank you so much for being my neighborhood for the past six years. First as my place of employment, and then as my home. I loved you from the very first time I met you, which was probably visiting my friend Lauren’s apartment and going to the Old St. Pat’s Block Party, then when I couldn’t figure out how to get to my first interview at Harpo (thanks, Lauren).

Since then, we’ve had so many good times. I’ve lived on Kinzie and Madison, spent lots of time after hours and at brunches on Randolph, worked on Racine and May, went to church on Adams and Desplaines, gone to the Target on Jackson too many times, and have had a love/hate relationship with the 20 bus down Madison and Washington on and off for the past six years.

You have been a part of so many wonderful memories in my life. Almost four years ago, Nate and I got engaged at a New Year’s Eve party we had at our Kinzie apartment. We moved to Madison right before we were married, and got George right after we moved to our second apartment in the building (yes, we’ve moved a lot). You were there for me in my best times, and more recently my worst, and I’ll never forget that.

And as much as I hate to, it’s time to leave you. Things have changed. And now, there are condo buildings and restaurants popping up everywhere. The intimate relationship we once had has become crowded, expensive, less familiar.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ve kept me, Nate, and now George safe and comfortable for these six years, and for that I say thank you (I’m sure my parents would, too). People recognize and say hi to George when he goes on long walks with Nate. I went out to dinner tonight and saw three different people at my favorite BBQ spot on Green. It’s so bittersweet to leave you, but it’s time to move on.

I won’t be far, and I’ll come back to visit you often, but our relationship will be a little different. You’re the only neighborhood I’ve lived and loved in the city, but it’s time to say goodbye. I wish you well as you continue to grow and thrive, and hopefully I will be doing the same in my new neighborhood.

Thank you, I love you, and I hope to see you very soon.

Xo. Stephanie

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Photo by Erica Barraca Photography

Tête Charcuterie

I have a confession: I feel really guilty.

Why? Because I’ve waited way too long (like three weeks!) to tell you about this little gem: Tête Charcuterie. Life gets in the way–work is busy, my sister AND sister-in-law had babies in the same week (yay!), I went to New York City for almost a week, we found a new apartment (more on that later), I had jury duty–but seriously, no excuses.

Let’s cut to the chase: this place is great on so many levels. The service is some of the best I’ve had IN MY LIFE. The menu is sophisticated, well edited, and a little adventurous. But let’s get into the details:

I met one of my oldest friends, Ali, here for a night of major catching up. We sat inside, where it was quiet and cool. Right away we were greeted, and Ali had the Three Amigos while I ordered a Tête a Tête, which our waiter said was a better version of a Moscow Mule. Sold! It was very tasty and refreshing. What made it even better was when the bartender came and checked on how the drinks were himself. That’s extra points in my book.

We wanted to try a variety of meats, so we went with the small charcuterie board, which includes a taste of everything: chicken liver pate, mortadella, salami, and the house specialty–head cheese–as well as thick, delicious bread slices, sweet pickles, and whole grain mustard.

I have more to confess: I was nervous about eating the head cheese. If you don’t know what head cheese is, it’s a meat jelly (no dairy here) made with various parts of the pig’s head–very European. I questioned trying it, but like the saying goes, “When in Rome…”, right?

So Ali and I tasted it at the same time, and…it wasn’t bad at all! Moreover, what makes this board so good is that each bite is deliciously unique. And it’s really the perfect portion for two people to share as a meal. While we were eating, we were checked on again by Amanda at the hostess stand. More points for Tête!

But we couldn’t end there. We decided to go with a rich and creamy artisan goat cheese with strawberries, dried apricots, and more of that delicious bread for dessert with a glass of Hi! Prosecco–a perfect pairing, if you ask me. It was a great choice to end our evening with a little sweet…or so we thought…

Then Dan, general manager and partner of Tête, stopped by to chat, and brought out a sample of the applewood smoked bacon. (I mean, who can turn down a delicious piece of bacon?!?) It was the perfect amount of smokiness and melted in my mouth. What a decadent end to a wonderful meal.

Now, when we were there, Tête just had its three-month anniversary, and Daniel told us they will have their own cured meats to try in a month or less (ours were from West Loop Salumi just across Randolph Street)–I know I will definitely be coming back to try them.

Honestly, if you want incredible service and delicious, unique fare, head to Tête Charcuterie. The care that they put into their food and their customer service shows. It’s perfect for date night, a night with the girls, a group, you name it. Just make sure you go.

Tête Charcuterie
1114 West Randolph
West Loop

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