I wanted to love The Fainting Goat from the moment I saw its freshly painted blue awnings on U Street. What a lovely, quirky name, I thought. This place sounds like it will be full of personality.
However, once you’re inside the restaurant, it feels a bit out of place. That particular strip of U Street is chock-a-block with late-night-pizza spots, ancient Jazz bars, and trashy rooftop clubs. How strange that such an elegant, quirky hipster resto should open there.
When you step inside, the U Street grit and noise immediately falls away, and it feels like this goat should be in a tree-shaded neighborhood in Brooklyn. Its high ceilings and huge windows give the space plenty of light and warmth. And its beautiful vintage chandeliers and old window panes offer pre-arranged character.
I had enjoyed a quick dinner there a few weeks prior, sitting at one of the high-tops in the bar area, wondering why there was so much foot traffic in front of the windows but no one inside this lovely restaurant. Our server that evening was very friendly and accommodating.
The same for our brunch—the service was very friendly, if a bit forgetful and clumsy. We were immediately seated at a big high-top in the bar area and offered menus and coffee. The joe came quickly and was served in large cups.
The cocktail list was fun, and so we ordered a selection. Unfortunately the server got our order wrong and a different cocktail arrived—the salida verde, which is a tequila drink with a chili lime rim. Very pretty, but not what we wanted.
I had the Bloody Goat, which was a great Mary. It is made with a house spice blend, Smirnoff vodka, and V8. It had plenty of horseradish on the bottom, so much so that I was eating chunk of it. The cup was ornamented with olives and a lime wedge.
Emil had the gazpacho tipple, made with golden tomato gazpacho, boyd and blair vodka, and fino sherry. It was like a soup blend with a kick of booze. Great in theory, but the execution left a bit to be desired—they could have done with more soup and less sherry.
The bubbles list is big, with four champagne cocktails to choose from. The madras was in large half-wine glasses. Mostly transparent, they could look like tall glasses of water if you’re not careful. The cocktail is made with white cranberry, blood orange cell, and prosecco.
Bottomless bubbles is only available in the regular OJ type and restricted to a “respective two-hour time limit” so the menu says. But, it’s a respectable $15.
Cocktails and a perusal of the menu quickly devolved into conversation about goats. And then the Taylor Swift goat video was whipped out and shared across the table. Fear not: It is safe for work—and it is hilarious.
The brunch menu is quirky and, like the dinner menu, strangely arranged into three sections. Everything is made for sharing—or nibbling, grazing and chomping on, as it clearly states. So it requires coordination and agreement among the rest of the table.
The ‘nibble’ section has the small plates, the ‘graze’ section the medium, and the ‘chomp’ had only three choices for larger dishes,all of them sandwiches: a croque, a fish dish, and a burger. As I am tiring of small plates, I was disappointed there weren’t more bigger options.
I committed to sharing with my brunch mates. We strategized, then dove into ordering from the first two columns. Then the dishes started arriving—so many dishes, not enough space. We quickly had to consolidate plates and shuffle things around.
The burrata dish was first up. It was a tiny dish served in an enormous plate, with potato, chorizo, mustard, and parsley. Everything had parsley sprinkled on top. Every thing. We really were grazing goats.
As more dishes arrived, we quickly realized it was all in the presentation at the Goat. Everything is very pretty. The cinnamon bun, made with sugar, cinnamon, and brown butter, is served hot in a mini skillet.
The lardo dish is basically toast with thinly sliced radish on top. It is colorful and artful, and said to also have salsa verde. But I just tasted radish.
Another other toast dish beat the lardo in taste, the grilled bread with ricotta spread. It was served with walnuts and honey on top. Absolutely delicious.
The ‘scramble’ eggs is the goat’s version of a benedict. Thin slices of spec—almost like a prosciutto—were criss-crossed on top of eggs on an english muffin. The hollandaise was pretty thin, and again, there was parsley.
Things were arriving so quickly, we lost track of what we ordered. When we finally counted and assessed, we realized we had an unwanted addition: the bread pudding. It had arrived without us ordering it, but I was glad it did. It ended up being my favorite dish of the entire meal.
The bread pudding was moist and hot. It was made with apple, apricot, and raisins. Perfection, actually.
The frittata arrived in another mini cast iron skillet. Again, another appearance by that pretty radish slicer and its friend, parsley. The frittata was made with fennel, potato, and goat cheese, and honestly wasn’t that memorable.
We decided we had to order the only dish with goat on the menu: the sausage. In addition to the requisite goat, it also has peppers, potato, and olives mixed in. It was extremely phallic.
We enjoyed our meal, and though we thought we were going to order multiple rounds of food, that first round of nibbles and bites absolutely did the trick—we were stuffed.
Sadly, the restaurant was still mostly empty. A few straggling goats had straddled up to the bar, but overall, its cozy booths and high-tops were waiting patiently for some of that U Street traffic to pop in.
The Bitches say: B- Sloppy but friendly service. Oddly portioned dishes and, sigh, yet another small plates menu. A unique spot, but kind of out of place on U Street. If you’re tired of the neighborhood options, however, this might not be a bad thing.
The Fainting Goat
1330 U Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
The Fainting Goat serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.