511 E 5th St, 212-687-3641, goattownnyc.com
A little bit of trivia: the great author Washington Irving came up with the moniker of Gotham for our fair city, based on the translation from the Dutch of “Goat’s Town”. More recently, owner Nicholas Morgenstern and chef Joel Hough (who both share the same birthday as Irving) named their American bistro Goat Town in tribute to this nugget of knowledge. And the only goat on the menu is in the meatballs but we’ll get to that later.
Porcelain subway tiles envelop the booths like draping fondant icing and are much more comfortable than you might think. There is no hard liquor on the menu—although there are crafty cocktails created from wine and beer—but we hardly felt its absence, settling in for a slightly sweet Vouvray “Fleuve Blanc” ($13/glass, $49/bottle) that well suited our icy tray of Naked Cowboy Oysters (M/P) from Long Island. Fresh, cautionary tomatillo cut the saltiness of our bivalves, with horseradish and actual Radishes ($7) served with an eager complement of sea salt butter and brown bread. Perfection! Bouchot Mussels ($13) completed our menu of mollusks, steeped in the most divine broth of beer, bacon, mayonnaise and parsley.
The house white Muscadet ($7/glass, $27/bottle) wisely took a back seat to beautiful Steak Tartare ($12), which was richly red, mixed with an organic egg yolk, verdant parsley, opinionated onions and rye bread to spread the whole thing on. Goat Meatballs ($11) were tinged with allspice and nutmeg, sharing the plate with a puree of cannellini beans and fried rosemary. The medium rare Burger ($14) was meatloaf sized (so were the accompanying fries!) and topped with pickled red onions, bibb lettuce, an affectionate blue cheese and a house-sauce of mayonnaise and creamy horseradish.
Sautéed Arctic Char ($20) featured a fine confluence of fennel, fingerling potatoes and leek barigoule, a slowly braised stew of white wine, coriander and herbs with a dash of smoked paprika thrown in for good measure.
We found the GoatTownChocolateTorte ($9) with bourbon, crème fraiche and an outrageous, additional “dip” of Salted Caramel Ice Cream ($6/two scoops) wickedly cataclysmic and had us, well…practically bleating like goats!
First published in Next magazine.