Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rumblings #5: Stumbling Goat

Our fifth restaurant, Stumbling Goat Bistro, is a Phinney Ridge mainstay known for organic, locally-grown sustainable sustenance. Separated into two distinctly different dining rooms, the Goat has a cloistered neighborhood feel to it, dimly lit with dark maroon drapes and carpet. I had been there previously, and had what I conservatively call the greatest bread pudding I've ever had. But there were questions, the most prescient being whether the cuisine would stand-up to previous meals with new head chef Josh Theilen?

Our friends Jaimie and Jeff joined us on a busy Sunday night at the restaurant. Here's what we ate, and what our tastebuds told our brains:

Mussels in broth (her)
Butter lettuce with sherry vinaigrette (him)

Weakest course all around. Mussels were tasty, but they actually charged us extra for a toasted piece of bread. Really? Maybe it's just an unsaid rule, but when you serve mussels, you should have a starchy sponge to mop up all the lovely broth. That's what we like to call "weaksauce." My salad was simple and straightforward and not newsworthy. Moving on...

Trout with English Peas and Pearl Onions (her; pictured)
Mushroom Ravioli (him; pictured)

Ann went with back to back seafood while I did back to back vegetarian dishes. Her trout was massive, perfectly cooked with a crispy skin. Little on the oily side, but that's pretty standard with trout. The peas were well-cooked as well, not crunchy or mushy or chewy.

At Stumbling Goat, the fare is low key and focused on flavor. None of the dishes featured more than 4-5 main ingredients.

My mushroom ravioli was so savory and deep. I really liked this dish. Again, the focus was flavor. The chanterelle pile was meaty and rich. The handmade ravioli was also packed with the earthy goodness of chanterelles and shittakes. In the last year, I've come to appreciate...and maybe even revere, mushrooms. Especially chanterelles. I think they can offer a very comparable alternative to meats/proteins. And seeing how I seem to date pescatarians, it's a good thing that I've come around on fungi.

How wrong did that last sentence feel, eh? Anywho...

Delicately shaved parmesan topped off this very strong pasta dish that left me smiling and wanting another half serving.

It's a good thing I didn't though. Our dessert was probably the standout of the entire week: The chocolate terrine.

Chocolate Terrine (him & her)

For those unfamiliar with "terrine," it's simply the pressing of 2-4 similar ingredients into a layered block of pate. Traditional terrines are made with fatty proteins, like pork or duck. Our dessert was a chocolate terrine, featuring four layers of so-deep-it's-subterranean decadence. Chocolate shortbread, milk chocolate ganache, pistachio ganache, and bittersweet chocolate ganache, floating amongst a raspberry coulis. Again, Stumbling Goat had finished strong with a memorable dessert that not only made us forget any earlier misfires, but set a high bar for any dessert we had going forward. Here it is in all it's glory...

In the end, Stumbling Goat featured the strongest service we had during Restaurant Week. From beginning to end, flavor was always brought forward, and the food got stronger as we progressed.

But hey, don't take our word for's Blazed Padma Lakshmi to tell you what's what.

"Hey. Heeeeyyyy! Can I get this to go? No, seriously, I totally want more. I have the whole Glad Family of Products in my car. Wait here.

*8 minutes later*

So I totally couldn't find that CD you wanted to burn. Do you have any more of the chocolate layery thing? I can take some home if you don't have any more bags.
Oh, look.

My jeans feel really funny if I rub them like this. But when I rub them the other way, nothing. See. Nothing. Ugh. I'm taking these back to Barney's.

Hey, you're not Tom..."

Last and certainly not least, Union, is up next.


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