Home » Chica-goin’ out to eat: Stephanie Izard & Little Goat

Chica-goin’ out to eat: Stephanie Izard & Little Goat

I live the sweet {gluten-free} life in the second city (Chicago!), and since I get asked all the time where I go to eat, I thought I should keep a journal of sorts of the highs and the ( hopefully not so) lows.

A serendipitous string of events started last year culminated this year with me meeting some of my favorite celebrity chefs. In particular, Stephanie Izard, the Top-Chef winning, James Beard Award nominee, cool gal made an impression.

After a cooking demo and traipsing clear across a trade show for a second demo (and a book signing!), MammaCakes and Stephanie started talking about food. The scallops that my mom had just tried at the first demo opened the conversation and it naturally flowed to talking about her famous Girl & the Goat. MammaCakes told her how I had raved about my dinner and the staff at Girl & the Goat because of how they handled my need for a gluten-free dinner.

Her eyes lit up. And then she started talking pancakes. Biscuits. Muffins. Gluten-free and prepared separately to avoid that dreaded cross contamination.

Yes. Those things on a menu, at a restaurant. A restaurant that gets it. I was suddenly unable to think about anything else. I needed pancakes and I needed them stat.

Somehow, Mammacakes and I decided that we were going to Stephanie’s new restaurant, Little Goat, for breakfast this morning before I went to work. She gave us her cards and said if we got there when they opened she might still be in (they open at 7am- talk about dedication!) and she would make sure our pancakes were perfect.

And when a Top Chef tells you to stop by, babycakes, you stop by. You don’t look at that menu. You just ask for the gluten-free pancakes she was telling you about. And you bask in the glow of such a happening spot having an inventive gluten-free menu and an understanding of cross-contamination.

Gluten-free breakfast at Little Goat in Chicago

The chef: Stephanie Izard from Top Chef Chicago

This lady is a force to be reckoned with. I have been a fan since I watched her win Top Chef season 4, but I was sold on her brilliance after a night at Girl & the Goat (one of the 10 best restaurants in the country). This lady keeps on racking up the accolades including the first-ever restaurant review in Saveur, a few James Beard award nominations, and the most important, the Chicago celebrity chef with the best smile.

But really, she is one incredibly talented chef. And she was so kind to MammaCakes and me. I would adopt her to be my new sister if I could.

The restaurant: Little Goat

This is not your typical diner. There are no tacky neon lights or chromed out bars. The restaurant is open and airy – the room looks like it has been kissed by the sun. The yellows are warm. The wood feels cozy. The leather looks to be the right amount of worn in.

She calls it a diner, I call it a cozy place I plan to drag all of my friends. Repeatedly.

The menu

Kimchi on shrimp and grits. A Croque Monster. Smoked corned beef hash. Bacon maple syrup for waffles. Since the restaurant is open from 7am-2am, there are dishes perfect for any time of day. There are Sammiches and salads and even goat burgers. Sure, there are some classic can’t-go-wrong dishes on the menu, but there are also inventive uses of ingredients (braised pistachios in shrimp & grits, pork belly and kimchi on eggs benedict). Trust me, there is something for everyone here. Heck, they even have milkshakes. It is the kind of food that reminds me of the 24-hour place we used to hit up in college. But with food I like when I am sober.

There is a separate gluten-free menu and cross contamination is taken quite seriously. Sure, the whole menu isn’t gluten-free but there are plenty of choices so our menu doesn’t feel like an after-thought or second-rate. There are pancakes on it, not just egg dishes.

The food

Now, there have been some mixed reviews about this place, and I am not usually one to often tell people they are wrong, but the naysayers are decidedly wrong about this place. And I don’t say that because after meeting Stephanie I think she is a fabulous lady. I say that because I was served some darn good food. There is no pretense here.

Sure, you might be disappointed depending on your definition of “elevated diner” food. If you are expecting fancy food with diner themed names, go somewhere else. You want food that makes just about every other Chicago diner look like a bunch of slackers? This is your place.

The gluten-free pancakes (that we ate the last of the batter for) basically made my month. It has been 8 years since I have eaten a pancake made by someone other than myself or my dad. Going out to breakfast almost always means eggs and bacon, because even the few places that have gluten-free pancakes are either serving pre-packaged yuck or wouldn’t know what cross contamination was if it bopped them on the head.

But these. Oh, these pancakes. They were fluffy clouds of breakfast heaven. I have a sneaking suspicion that they might have been cooked in bacon grease (aka magic flavor dust). I might have used the incredibly descriptive term “amazeballs” when a friend asked how they tasted.

I mean, pancakes. Honest to goodness pancakes. In a restaurant. 

Then we tried a few other things: Shrimp & Grits for MammaCakes, corned beef hash for FrannyCakes. She was sold on kimchi after her choice and I ate corned beef hash without ketchup for the first time ever (at first because I didn’t want to insult the chef, and then the waiter brought some hot sauce and I forgot all about the ketchup). Even after half an order of pancakes, MammaCakes finished her shrimp & grits.

I took half of mine home (it was enough to feed 2 normal people or one hungry gentleman) and had it for dinner.

In conclusion

Rating: 5/5 
Price: About $15-$20/person
Ambiance: Casual/friendly

(Ratings are not based on a set scale but are based on my experience, the attitude of the staff, the likelihood of my return and my overall opinion of the food)

8 comments

  1. Mel says:

    Wow! That sounds amazing! I may have to add it in as a brunch spot, as I am still searching for non-Disney amazing GF pancakes! =) Thanks for sharing info about a place I did not know was GF.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *