When we shot a Key Ingredient video at Girl & the Goat, the first thing we saw was bread— that is, dough rising on trays on every flat surface to be had in the kitchen and dining room. The runaway success of the restaurant after it opened in mid-2010 quickly pushed its facility to the breaking point, and led to the BOKA Group looking for a place to move the bakery operation offsite. The idea of a diner next to the bakery called The Little Goat was a joke at first, but two years later, the would-be joke opened for business at 7 a.m. this morning at 820 W. Randolph— a genuine diner space offering Izard’s big flavor take on diner-style comfort food. We spoke last week with Izard about how her Mediterranean style of dinner cooking translates to all-day diner service, while our man Huge Galdones popped in to get the first shots of the interior and the food (which he says he ate about three lunches’ worth of, and loved). Read our interview below, then check out the slideshow, and get hungry.
So how did the idea for The Little Goat start?
Right away, as soon as we opened, we wished we had another kitchen space. We were thinking about moving some piece of it to another location. And the obvious thing was the bread part, because we didn’t have a specialized oven. So we brought it up to the partners and they agreed to start looking around for a space.
And we were just kind of talking it up as a joke, that we could open a teeny little breakfast place and call it The Little Goat. We like doing kind of breakfasty stuff.
Right, the pig face is kind of like a hash, there’s an egg on it.
Yeah. And then we looked at the Red Light space and it was much larger than we needed for a bakery alone, and we thought, here’s the room for our breakfast place.
People know what your food is at dinner. How does that translate to diner food?
Well, the menus are completely different. But I always love layers of flavors, different textures. I like having enough components to bring out the sweet, the salty, the acidic— you’re just applying it to different meals. It’s still a celebration of ingredients from all over the world.
So how does that work with something like pancakes? Are they exotic pancakes, or are they just bolder relative to other pancakes?
The pancake’s made with our sourdough starter. So it’s got kind of a bigger flavor. But with pancakes the fun is the maple syrup. So we took Burton’s maple syrup, and we aged it in the wine barrels from our Girl & the Goat red wine with Thai red chiles, Thai long peppercorns, some other spices. So that’s our idea of maple syrup.
Will you have scary things like pig face looking at people for breakfast?
We may not have pig face all the time. But when we make some extra, it will come over. Most of our bizarre body parts will wind up as our blue plate special– we’ll have Pig Tail Tuesday, Pig Face Friday, Stroganoff Sunday to use the veal cheeks.
What about lunch?
Well, the bakery side has four sandwiches right now. And the menu will have 14 more sandwiches— our version of a patty melt, we’ve got The Fat Club sandwich, Los Drowned which is our Mexican French dip. We’ve got a goat patty, eight different burgers, a kimchi burger. Lots of stuff.
Okay, say our Uncle Sid sees the sign that says "Diner" and walks in, not realizing it’s a kimchi burger kind of place. What’s he going to eat and be happy about it?
Probably the chicken pot pie. That’s what I’m going to eat a lot of. Or, you know, our beef ravioli is kind of modeled after Chef Boyardee. There’s 70 items, there’s plenty for him to choose from.
So is it going to be a real diner, by which we mean, a place where there’s like a stained copy of the Sun-Times on the counter to read while you’re eating? Because we look at something like Au Cheval, and they do diner food, but it doesn’t pass the stained Sun-Times test.
Yeah, it might be a little dark for that. I hope so. I don’t want it to just be a place for your special weekend breakfast. I want it to be somewhere you can get something on the way to work.
You’re keeping diner hours, certainly.
It’s turned me into an early riser. I want it to be a place for those people. So the bakery is open at 6, and the diner side is open at 7.