GOAT in Chelsea
All over London, restaurants open with half-baked misconceptions that they bear any relation to their gastronomic influences. Think briefly of all the Italian restaurants that are about as synonymous with Italy as tins of Heinz spaghetti. In contrast, GOAT is the culinary reincarnation of the Goat in Boots pub on Fulham Road, with three floors of restaurant and bar properly influenced by the atmosphere of New York and the ingredients of Italy, and dishes sitting happily somewhere between the two.
The décor is all steel and straight edges, steel pillars and welcome intermittent reminders of the building’s past. Most striking is the ram’s head that guards the restaurant’s centre. Upstairs is a speakeasy full of quirks that are increasingly more mystifying as the night grows older. The cocktail and wine lists are hidden among books – tricky to locate after three or four of the Rhubarb Bellini and a Santa Fe or two. Luckily, informative and enthusiastic staff are on hand to help.
As for the food, things kick off firmly in the Italian landscape: Calabrian sausage n’duja is used to excellent effect in a dish of Meatballs and N’duja Sauce that has a rich and choleric deep red flush that warns the diner of the fire lying within. From this salacious inferno, the next dish of Tuna Tartare is as incongruous as it is delicious. The fish is exemplary, fresh and wonderfully textured.
The main courses provide further evidence that GOAT’s chefs know their way around the kitchen. A Hanger Steak blushes with the rareness befitting the cut. Tender and suitably seasoned, it is part of a dish that excels in simplicity. Sweet potato fries and deep-fried rocket are the supporting cast – no sauce, no worries: time and again, GOAT resists the temptation to faff. Take the Grilled Monkfish with Fennel, Artichoke and Tomato, for example, with four ingredients that just work. Well-cooked fish, seriously delicious nuggets of artichoke and a caramelised sliver of fennel are confirmed as Mediterranean the moment the first roasted tomato bursts in the mouth.
From this point, the meal loses its upward trajectory. Truffled Macaroni Cheese is as pleasant as it is tired; this zeitgeist side of the decade is surely on its way out. Broccoli with Chilli, Garlic and Almonds lacks punch, though the Truffled Polenta Fries are a success, salty and moreish.
Desserts see the first sustained departure to the other side of the Atlantic. A Dark Chocolate Brownie looks lost without a blast in the oven and tastes like a wasted opportunity. GOAT Peanut Butter Cheesecake comes adorned with a tempered chocolate tear drop, weeping at the sneeze of cocoa powder that coats the plate (though isolated gastronomic superfluity is perhaps excusable when it comes to desserts). The quintessential American dessert, Apple Pie, is superb. With pastry as crisp as a winter’s morning and apples that hum with cinnamon, this is the final highlight of a genuinely stellar meal.
An all-time great? No. Somewhere great to eat and drink in Chelsea? Emphatically, yes.
Photos: Krish Nagari
To book a table at GOAT, 333 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London SW10 9QL, call 020 7352 1384 or visit here.