Review of Tail Up Goat: Believe the Hype
At Tail Up Goat, I revisited some of my favorite childhood food memories. Tucked away beyond the bustle of the main drag of Adams Morgan, this unpretentious restaurant feels like a neighborhood cafe you'd find in Southern Italy. When I was there, I didn't have a sense of time and was focused on fully experiencing the food and enjoying time with friends. A restaurant that can transport you like that is one worth savoring.
Tail Up Goat's reputation precedes itself with rave reviews from the cream of the crop critics in DC. Now, the coverage includes national attention with Bon Appétit naming Tail Up Goat one of the 50 best new restaurants in the country.
There is something to be said about good-hearted, humble restaurateurs like these. Owners Jon Sybert, Jill Tyler, and Bill Jensen have created an elegant atmosphere for enjoying good food among friends and neighbors.
[Tail Up Goat's Name is a nod to Jill's childhood home at the U.S. Virgin Islands. On the website, they explain, "How to tell the difference on an island overrun with both: "Tail up goat. Tail down sheep."]
when to go
On a Friday in August, despite the recent Bon Appétit publicity, we were able to get three seats at the bar at about 8pm. We called first to make sure that it was a good time and thankfully we arrived right in time. We ran into some regulars who came closer to 9pm who said they had a harder time than usual getting their seats at the bar. It's always safe to call ahead but I think this place is worth the wait!
the wow dishes
crispy salt cod, smoked cauliflower, pickled red onion
With one glance at the menu, I knew I wanted the salted cod. Perhaps this is not the first dish people would be drawn to but I love salted cod! My Italian-American father instilled in me a love of baccalà, which is a dry, salted cod traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve. This delicacy requires 3 days of soaking in water where you change the water three times a day. We put it on our porch where the winter Minnesota temperature was perfect for cod-soaking. Tail Up Goat was no slouch with these little cod fritters. I have no doubt they'd get my dad's stamp of approval.
Cod is cured in-house and folded into a choux dough with riced potatoes and eggs. It’s plated with a smoked cauliflower aioli and a mound of pickled red onion anchoring the center of the plate. Sybert says the pickled onion recipe is straight out of the Zuni Cafe cookbook — his favorite recipe from his favorite cookbook. The pickles spiked with cinnamon and star anise also lend a great acidic balance.
seaweed sourdough, pickled mussels, whipped lardo, sea beans
I never knew bread could taste so good. For $13, you get one piece of toast that we split three ways without any difficulty. Topped with pickled mussels, I loved the crunch combined with the melt in your mouth richness.
pici, uni, squash blossom, calabrian chili breadcrumbs
Pici is a thick pasta that is hand-rolled. Served with uni (sea urchin) and breadcrumbs, this hearty pasta was without question my favorite. My dad and I also spent time making homemade pasta when I was growing up and this was almost exactly the same thickness. Cooked perfectly al dente with a Calabrian flavor, the pici pasta was where my fork kept landing.
corn ravioli, fresno pepper, sungold tomato, caper breadcrumbs
The corn ravioli was the ideal summer pasta dish and it was good for sharing. This colorful sensation was among our favorites with bright sweetness from the corn that was cut with the savory, salty caper breadcrumbs. Gluten-free folks will be pleased to know that their pastas are available gluten-free upon request.
don't forget the drinks
We had a great time sipping cocktails as we started out our adventure at Tail Up Goat. The Boulverdaier was right up my alley and the Continental was well-received in my group as well. With dinner, we enjoyed a Touraine Rose.
worth checking out
stracciatella, peaches, pea shoots, oat crumble
The stracciatella is described as a creamier burrata. Anything cheesy and creamy is sure to win me over. The creamy stracciatella reminded me of a creme fraiche and the oat crumble with peaches felt very cobbler-esque. I could have easily eaten it as a dessert. Either way it was lovely.
grilled rabbit sausage, fennel mostarda, marinated radicchio
Normally, I'm good with sausage-like anything. The rabbit did not do it for me. If I had to it again, this is the only thing I would skip because it was too sweet.
Tail Up Goat
1827 Adams Mill Road NW
Washington, DC 20009