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Sable or Girl and the Goat?

TorontoJo May 15, 2011 01:26 PM

Heading back to my home town of Chicago for a quick business trip and would like to try something new. Avec is my old standby when I travel to Chicago, so both Sable and GATG appeal to me (I also really liked Atwood Cafe, so would like to see what the chef is up to these days).

I'll either be dining solo or be with 3 business colleagues. Which would you pick?

It looks like GATG has no reservations available for my travel dates. Do they accept walk ins? Is there a bar area for solo diners?

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Avec Restaurant
615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

Girl and the Goat
809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

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  1. TorontoJo RE: TorontoJo May 15, 2011 01:50 PM

    And as a total side question: how do the locals pronounce "Sable"? Given the provenance of the name, I would guess "SAH-bluh" but I wouldn't be surprised if it's been Anglicized to "SAY-bul". I would rather not make a fool of myself either way. :)

    10 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo
      Wahooty RE: TorontoJo May 15, 2011 06:31 PM

      I find calling the restaurant to be an excellent way to find out how they pronounce their own name, since they usually answer with such. Worked for me with Cochon. ;)

      1. re: Wahooty
        TorontoJo RE: Wahooty May 15, 2011 06:41 PM

        Well, that's just way too easy and logical. :)

      2. re: TorontoJo
        c
        Chihab RE: TorontoJo May 16, 2011 09:22 PM

        It is an English word, so when you say "been anglicized" not sure what you mean (unless you are referring to whenever in the 13th century it was co-opted from Norman or Anglo-Saxon or whatever). And it is pronounced SAY-bul.

        1. re: Chihab
          TorontoJo RE: Chihab May 16, 2011 09:39 PM

          I read on their web site that the restaurant was named after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, whose name I learned in grade school with the French pronunciation, rather than with an Anglicized pronunciation. Hence my question -- is the restaurant pronounced like Point du Sable's name? Or like the English word "sable"?

          But I take it from your post that it's the latter. Oddly enough, even though I ate there earlier this evening, I didn't hear anyone say the name, and I forgot to ask about it.

          1. re: TorontoJo
            c
            Chihab RE: TorontoJo May 17, 2011 12:16 PM

            I mean who cares how they would "like" us to pronounce it. Sable is an English word, whether or not it also a French surname, and I imagine 99% of people call it SAY-bul without even thinking about an alternative. So be it.

            1. re: Chihab
              TorontoJo RE: Chihab May 18, 2011 04:21 AM

              I care, because I prefer to respect the intent of the owner. I stopped by yesterday on the way back to my hotel and yes, they use the English pronunciation, even though it's based on a French name (their words, not mine).

              No harm, no foul. It was a simple question (I thought).

              1. re: TorontoJo
                h
                hoppy2468 RE: TorontoJo May 18, 2011 06:42 AM

                Agreed. Imagine walking in and telling Chef Achatz that Uh-line-uh sure is a fancy place.

                1. re: TorontoJo
                  huiray RE: TorontoJo May 18, 2011 07:29 AM

                  Agreed. +2.

                  1. re: huiray
                    c
                    Chihab RE: huiray May 18, 2011 08:03 AM

                    Alinea is also an English word and the restaurant does not use a non-intuitive pronunciation, so it is an irrelevant comparison.
                    The point is whether we care about respecting the wishes of restaurants that would like us to use non-intuitive pronunciations for what are already English words.
                    This is a total non issue since none of us has an example of such a restaurant, probably because the idea of doing this is - to my original point - pretentious, silly and futile.

                    1. re: Chihab
                      huiray RE: Chihab May 18, 2011 08:42 AM

                      I think you meant to reply to hoppy. :-)

        2. chicgail RE: TorontoJo May 15, 2011 02:07 PM

          GATG does have a bar area for walk-ins and solos. I would, however, arrive pretty darn close to when they open.

          IMO, Sable is an extraordinary bar (it has like a 12-page drink menu and is long and narrow like a good bar) with exceptional food, most of it small plates that could easily be really good bar food. I had dinner there a few weeks ago with friends and it was excellent, but it felt less like a restaurant than like a bar. The drinks, BTW, were really good also.

          Not so GATG, which is at it's heart, a restaurant. You might also really like Sprout, which is owned by Stefanie Izard's fellow Top Chef contestant, Dale Levitski. I was there in March and will be going back with friends next month.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chicgail
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            hoppy2468 RE: chicgail May 16, 2011 06:45 AM

            I second the Sprout rec. Had dinner there 3 weeks ago and it was really excellent. The rabbit entree was the best dish I've had in quite a while. The only thing that fell flat was their version of a Sazerac. It was awful. Service was excellent as well. The menu is along the lines of a menu at Alinea. It lists a main ingredient and a few lesser ones and it's really left to the server to explain the dishes and ours did a great job.

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            Alinea
            1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

          2. huiray RE: TorontoJo May 15, 2011 05:14 PM

            As chicgail says above about GATG, get there early - like at 4.30 pm when they open the doors (or preferably before) if you want a chance to get a table without waiting a long time.

            1. TorontoJo RE: TorontoJo May 15, 2011 05:24 PM

              Thanks so much! I can't get to GATG that early, and Sable has reservations available, so I'll probably go that route. It's also walking distance from my hotel, which is a big plus. I'm also looking forward to an Italian beef fix at Portillos...yay!

              1 Reply
              1. re: TorontoJo
                b
                bobdobilina RE: TorontoJo May 16, 2011 03:34 PM

                I would also suggest Balsan in the Elysian hotel. Ate at GATG, Graham Elliot in the past week and Balsan may have been my favorite meal.

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                Graham Elliot
                217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

              2. nsxtasy RE: TorontoJo May 16, 2011 05:05 PM

                I've eaten at both Sable and the Girl and the Goat within the past year. I thought Sable was absolutely fantastic. Even if you have no interest in alcohol (and I don't), what you will find is one of the very best contemporary American RESTAURANTS in the city, with fantastic food from Chef Heather Terhune, and it's an absolute disservice to consider it only a bar. One dish after another will impress you, including their signature dish, sweet corn creme brulee which so many of us have lauded. Of course, if you like artisanal cocktails, those will impress as well; Mike Ryan is one of the very best bartenders in the city. But it is no more a "bar" (and no less a restaurant) than Girl and the Goat.

                As for Girl and the Goat, where I ate last month, I thought some of the dishes were outstanding, and others were very good. However, the desserts were consistently disappointing at G&TG.

                For me, it's no contest between the two. I LOVED Sable and look forward to going back there. Girl and the Goat was good too but I don't think I'd go back.

                As for factors other than the food, both are nice places; Sable is super-sleek and contemporary, whereas the decor at Girl and the Goat is more rustic. Both are very loud rooms. It's far easier to get reservations at Sable and you don't have to do it three months in advance. (However, I still recommend making your reservations as soon as you decide to go there, as they have been filling up more lately as word has gotten around about how great the food is.) I would NOT go to Girl and the Goat without reservations; when I went there last month on a Sunday night (that's typically an off night), the waiting time for those without reservations was running around 90 minutes, and that's just not acceptable to me, especially if I'm accompanied by business colleagues. However, if you're solo, you may find that you don't have to wait as long if you're dining solo and willing to eat at the bar.

                You mentioned that you really liked Atwood Cafe. If you dined there more than a year and a half ago, then you were enjoying the cuisine of Chef Heather Terhune. She ran Atwood Cafe for ten years before leaving to open Sable.

                1. TorontoJo RE: TorontoJo May 16, 2011 05:39 PM

                  Thanks again, everyone. I ended up at Sable tonight for an early and light dinner with some friends. Had an excellent aperitif (can't recall the name, it was the last one on the aperitif cocktail list -- grappa, fresh blueberry juice, lemon bitters and one more ingredient). Only ordered three items:

                  - truffled deviled eggs
                  - sweet corn creme brulee
                  - crispy pork belly BLTs

                  The eggs were very good, with an incredibly velvety smooth texture. I enjoyed the truffle flavour and the crunch from the black trumpet mushrooms, but there was a heavy hand with the salt that I could have done without. My salt-loving friend didn't have any problems with the salt level.

                  The creme brulee was excellent and my favorite dish of the three. I loved the contrast in textures -- the perfectly creamy custard, the chewy chunkiness of the fresh corn and the crunch from the brulee. The hit of salt on the brulee was a welcome contrast to the mild sweetness of the corn.

                  The BLTs were rather disappointing. The "crispy" part seemed to be MIA, and the pork belly itself was cooked nicely but terribly bland. A slice of so-so tomato and some shredded lettuce did nothing for the sandwich. I think there was a smear of mayo or aiolo, but once again -- bland. There were three of us at the table and we left two of the sandwiches behind (there were 4 per order).

                  I would have loved to have tried more dishes, but unfortunately, I was starving when I first landed and got to my hotel, so I had a late lunch. The good news is that I had a wickedly good croque madame and some excellent fries at Deca. My only critique is that the bechamel sauce was too thick, but everything else about the sandwich was excellent. Crispy bread, runny egg, very good ham and gruyere. Yum.

                  I look forward to trying more on my next trip. My biggest problem will be whether to go back to Sable to try more of the menu or try one of the other places recommended in this thread. Thanks, 'hounds!

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