Friday, November 11, 2011

The Blue Goat

I just want to say, I'm not a food critic. I'm a food enthusiast- just someone who enjoys all things culinary and discussing its finer points. So, take anything I say as just someone from the neighborhood chatting you up. I also believe in supporting local business and try to do so whenever possible. So, I was excited to learn in the last year that The Blue Goat was going into the old Peking space next to the Westhampton theater on Grove.

I've been to The Blue Goat three times since it's opened, so I think I have a pretty good feel of the place. It defines itself as "An Urban Gastropub. Featuring euro comfort food, sourced locally, in a nose to tail concept." Which I would agree with after perusing their menu. They are also quickly becoming a social touchstone within their community as it's clear that building relationships is important to them and their business. Everytime I'm in, either the manager or the director of operations is coming up to the table to check on everything, they care here and it shows.

On to the fun stuff- the food! Incredible. Seriously, if you're thinking about trying it, you should go. Their menu is not the traditional "Starters, Mains" etc. instead you can opt for a few smaller plates tapas style or you can go for a heavier course. My first two visits I ordered a variety of plates to share. First and foremost, I must mention the pommes frites with pork dust and garlic aoili. Sick, wrong and delicious. I brought a girlfriend in visiting from Chicago and she said without a doubt, they were the best fries she had ever eaten. The beet salad with goat cheese over greens is wonderfully seasonal as they've started tossing pomegranate seeds in- a nice counterpoint to a lot of the richness you will ingest from their menu.

As for heavier entrees, the goat ravioli in browned butter will melt in your mouth. The chicken and pepperoni fettucini is ok - nothing really stood out to me about this dish other than the exquisite chunk of authentic Italian pepperoni. And lastly- the gnocchi. Oh the gnocchi. No one in this town knows how to make it properly much less sauce it properly. It has been a lament of mine for the past almost 8 years of living here in Richmond. But at last, my angst has been quelled by this masterful plate of perfection, made possible by the chef, Kevin LaCivita's, grandmother. Thank you Kevin, from the bottom of my heart, for making this soul satisfying dish for us. However, I'm having a hard time ordering anything else on the menu b/c I just can't get enough!

Be on the lookout for special events, they are trying many different things out. We recently attended a Virginia Beer Dinner this past Wednesday that was delicious, education and great fun! They want to try and do these beer dinners at least once a month. And oh, did I mention that Steve McKenna was behind the bar? I kept seeing posts about him on the goat's Facebook wall, but I thought it was some sort of inside joke that I wasn't privy to- but no, he really IS behind the bar and making some serious mixologist magic. I was told his ginger marys for Sunday brunch are not to be missed.

The Virginia brewers included in this past week's dinner were Roanoke Railhouse, Legend Brewery and the newest kid in town, Hardywood Park. The beers ranged from dark amber lager to many different styles of belgian. Each was paired with a complimenting food accompaniment which included a charcuterie board, duck rillettes, housemade sausage of venison/pork/duck/proscuitto and an apple tartlet with caramel gelato. The brewers went around to each table to discuss their process and its end result- I learned that you add more sugar if you want a drier beer. A wonderful night- great food, great beer, great company and yes, we did officially get Steve McKenna'd.

If there's any downside I've experienced, it's not too significant, just a little inconsistency from the bar. They have a few house specialty handcrafted cocktails on their drink menu. If made right, you will feel transported by their alchemy. If not, you will taste a heavy hand in their flat lack of charisma. These drinks are works of art, not to be made by any schmoe, even in a waitstaff pinch. I hope they work the kinks out of the inconsistencies. In the mean time, I'll be sticking to some Fat Tire. Oh yeah.

The Blue Goat

5710 Grove Ave.

Richmond, VA, 23226


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