Destination: Dessert

A restaurant that shakes up the flavor spectrum with Crisp Braised Pork Shank with Stone Fruit Kimchee and Buttermilk Dressing is not about to bore you with one-dimensional desserts.

That’s the rule at Girl & the Goat, celebrity chef and co-owner Stephanie Izard’s inventive small-plates concept in Chicago. After Izard’s dinner dishes are cleared, pastry chef Matthew Rice takes the baton and sends out desserts with multiple surprises in every bite.

Witness the Miso-Butterscotch Budino, which Rice likens to “pineapple upside-down cake on top of butterscotch pudding.” His interpretation is more elaborate, featuring cashew cake with glazed pineapple and a sprinkling of chopped bacon toffee. The latter is bacon candied in sugar, butter and bacon fat.

“What you have is something really creamy, something acidic from the pineapple, a nice piece of cake and some salty crunch from the bacon toffee,” Rice says. Adding further distinction is an eye-opening hint of earthy, fermented miso. “It’s definitely subtle, there mostly for the saltiness and to help balance the sweetness,” Rice says.

Similarly, varied sensations greet the palate at Izard’s Little Goat Diner across the street, where the desserts are twists on classic diner fare. Take the Smoked Pork and Toffee Crunch shake, with an unusual nuance of smoked pork fat gelato made by a local artisan. Bits of vanilla toffee and dark chocolate are mixed in for contrast.

“There is something unexpected in there that really works,” says Rice. “It is one of the most popular things we do.”

Menu Sampler: Girl & the Goat, Chicago:

  • Peach Buckle, graham streusel, sour cream gelato, $8
  • Milk Chocolate and Galangal Napoleon, blackberries, passion fruit, $8
  • Miso-Butterscotch Budino, cashew cake, glazed pineapple, chopped bacon toffee, $8


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