511 East 5th Street
New York, NY 10009

There are precious few restaurants where one can go and receive great food, great drinks, and great service without having to put up with the pretense of either scenesterism or celebrity. Thankfully, Goat Town is one of them and I was fortunate enough to have selected it almost at random simply because it was near a cocktail bar I wanted to go to (though it was on my very long list anyway). If you like Rye, or Freemans, or Vinegar Hill House, or Quaint, you're almost sure to like Goat Town.

When Elbie and I arrived, it was crowded and loud. This became less noticeable once we were seated. Although we had made reservations, the table was not yet ready, so we grabbed seats at the bar and ordered drinks. Soon enough though, we were led to the rear corner, a fortuitous spot for taking annoying flash photos. The drinks, by the way, were very good and you should absolutely partake of the cocktail menu when you get here. Indeed, since Goat Town has a (very) small raw bar selection, should you find yourself waiting at the bar for your table to clear, it might not be a bad oyster to have a few oysters to tide you over.

When I saw that Goat Town had a braised octopus appetizer, served over white beans, I nearly lunged at it. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that, given how near I live to Danny Brown, which serves an amazing octopus over white beans appetizer, I figured that I would try something new. Thusly did I find myself ordering the Pork Belly Lyonnaise Salad, a small salad of greens and pork belly strips with 2 poached eggs, radishes and green beans under a duck fat-sherry vinaigrette. While it was very good, it wasn't nearly as good as everything else we tried. The pork belly basically was bacon and the vinaigrette sounded fancy, but was no more noticeably tasty than your standard vinaigrette. But, given how little pork there was, you could at least argue that it was a light dish. The opposite can be said for Elbie's appetizer, the Chicken Liver Mousse with a shredded radish salad and orange marmalade. It was as smooth and as sweet as cream cheese. Usually, one thinks of live pates as these mostly bitter smears of ground organ that people only order because they feel chic doing so. Not this. When we ran out of bread, fingers wiped the side of the little bowl. We had to push ourselves away from it and thankfully, the waiter cleared it away soon enough. I can't recommend this appetizer enough.

Indeed, the rest of the meal followed suit. Elbie's dish was a Cast Iron Organic Chicken with carrots and butternut squash over a goat cheese puree. The meat was juicy and the skin was crisp. There were but two complaints to this otherwise delicious entree. I felt like they didn't have nearly enough vegetables, and she wanted more of the goat cheese puree to soak the meat and vegetables in. Still, get this. My entree was the Pan Seared Cod with potato salad, mint leaves and breaded fried tripe. Hard to believe that I've never had tripe before, but so it was. This version deep fried them like calamari and when you deep fry anything, be it a chicken wing, a Twinkie, or a stomach lining, it usually tastes pretty good. Here to, the lesson holds. The cod itself was amazing. It was so tender you could cut it with a plastic straw held together by just the right amount of seared crust. Again though, the amount of vegetables that it came with were small and, indeed, so was the piece of fish. Five bites, maybe six, and it was gone. I wish I could say that I've been corrupted from being spoiled by Cheesecake Factory portions, but I don't like Cheesecake Factory. No, sadly, they just don't serve you very much. Unless you're an anorexic, you'll want two courses.

As great as the meal was thus far, and it was, the desserts (mostly ice creams and cookies) didn't seem very interesting. We skipped them and finished up by polishing off the remnants of our cocktail and washing it down with coffee.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from Goat Town, but from the drinks to the food to our dramarama fabulous waiter, we had a really great time here. The crowd is very young. Almost everyone was in their 20s or 30. And although it sits smack in Alphabet City, it's not hipster. That's not to say I'd dress like a hobo or a Devils fan, but you can leave your shirt untucked without fear of getting a dirty look. I'm almost certain that the next time someone asks for a recommendation for dinner in the East Village, it'll be mentioned.

Two appetizers, two entrees, four drinks and two coffees, plus tax and tip came to $146.

[ Copyright eateryROW 2012 ]

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