Monday, February 13, 2012
The Blue Goat
Rating = 4 stars
In our most recent Restaurant Club outing we ventured over to The Blue Goat, a fairly new restaurant spot in the Shops at Libbie and Grove area. Interestingly enough this was actually my first time visiting this neighborhood, despite having lived in Richmond all my life. Very cute, and I will have to go shopping there once it gets warm.
The Restaurant itself declares it is an "urban gastropub" = a place in the city that serves high quality food. They use mostly fresh local ingredients and even list the farms where they have gotten the food they are using in their dishes for the week.
Also, they use a "nose to tail" concept, meaning they serve alot of pieces of animals that you would not normally see in most restaurants. Let's just say this really scared me about trying this place. I like trying new things but am pretty against anything too weird.
I was wrong to be worried, and luckily I had some more adventuresome people with me. The food is served in a family style concept so the waiters encourage you to order things together and plan to share dishes, as the food is brought out as soon as it is ready. ***Note: do not think family style means large portions, as that is definitely not the case here.*** But it does allow you to taste many different dishes, which is a blessing since everything was very good!
The menu is split into what you would think is plate size, but it really isn't so don't be fooled by that either. It's more about the substance on the plates, so something more hearty will be in the "Feed" section even if it actually amounts to less food than something in the "Nibble" section, which unfortunately was somewhat disappointing.
Our group opted for one dish from each section and two from the large plates. We had a good mix, a salad, some french fries, goat stuffed ravioli, a meat pasta dish, and braised pork cheeks (the actual cheek area of a pig). So nothing too crazy, and the crazy stuff was the best part!
The salad and fries were fine, but I would recommend skipping those and going for something more interesting, since you can get them anywhere. And the pasta dish was nothing special, probably our least favorite part of the meal (we wished we had ordered something more daring in its place). But the goat stuffed ravioli was wonderful, just too few pieces of it as mentioned before (only four I think, so sad), and the pork cheeks were delicious, tasting much like a pot roast, but so tender and juicy. Again there were only four small pieces to share between five people, but that is the only thing I can complain about.
In addition to the food the atmosphere was lovely, bright wooden tables, brick walls, an industrial ceiling, full wine racks, and a cozy looking bar with a couple of big screens. We were there on a weeknight around 6:15 and there were several people at the bar enjoying happy hour specials (mostly older people who probably live in the area), but it picked up quickly on the restaurant side.
There is an expansive yet expensive wine list, and the waiters are knowledgeable and helpful in making decisions. The walls host several fanciful paintings. Oh and the deserts, they were very good as well, though again lacking in size. We tried three different options and none of them disappointed.
Cost wise, for five people we split a bottle of wine, five "plates", and three deserts for around $30 a person, which is really not bad considering how much food we were able to try. Some of my friends still felt they could eat more but I was pretty satisfied.
All in all I would highly recommend trying out The Blue Goat as an adventure, and I think you will find you will want to add it to your normal dining out list, especially if looking to go somewhere a little fancy (and a little crazy) but still relaxed and unpretentious.