Words and photos: Stephanie Breijo
The 14th Street restaurant explosion is, in some ways, much like the McConaissance; after years in the hole and some questionable involvement with women–though D.C.’s red light district should be noted as far more scandalous than McConaughey’s unfortunate string of rom coms–with a little polish, it’s become a critical darling landing praise and business left and right. There is no end in sight; resistance is futile.
But what about the Woody Harrelsonaissance? Much like his surfer-in-crime and literal partner-in-crime counterpart, Harrelson is capable of just as much professional substance and even skill as he of alright alright alright fame. I suppose in some ways, this makes U Street the Woody Harrelson of D.C.; the appeal never vanished into recent obscurity. It’s always just been there. But with a little help from Fainting Goat on U Street at the intersection of both, things are looking up for the famous corridor. This is, I’ve found, exactly the kind of restaurant U Street needs to kickstart its own Harrelsonaissance.
The menu at Fainting Goat is unlike any other along U, unique in its format with aptly and adorably named sections of bites: nibble, shared small plates: graze, sandwiches and sausages: chomp, and entrees: feed, all inspired by the dining habits of, you guessed it, goats.
The wordplay continues its punny run throughout the cocktail menu where you’ll find the My-“O”-Tonic, named with a tip o’ the hat to Myotonic Goats, the restaurant’s namesake and those adorable animals you’ve probably seen keeling over in clip after clip on YouTube.
But the menu’s strength isn’t necessarily in its naming; the dishes and cocktails themselves are worth a try–all of them–from the aforementioned My-“O”-Tonic (a sharp, bright spin on a gin and tonic made from in-house tonic and refreshing orange) to the goat sausage with black charred eggplant, tomato jam and fries.
Chef James Barton–formerly of Oval Room–serves up some of the freshest, most innovative shareable dishes U Street has seen in years; the Ricotta bread is salty, creamy and chewy with earthy tones from the nuts, and serves as a perfect starter for the table, while The Garden–an ever changing dish–is a buttery whatever-they-get-that-day mix of vegetables which, to be honest sounds unimpressive but, to its credit, is one of the best-executed plates on the menu.
The leeks–another veritably well-done vegetable dish–are slick, grilled and lightly charred, and sit atop a small pool of buttermilk and miniature mountains of Romesco. The clams, a mouthwatering bowl of Razor, Littleneck, Manillas and Cockles, provide a meaty dish for sharing or stealing away all for yourself; we really wouldn’t judge. Even the pan-roasted chicken, a staple on menus worldwide, proves unique in its brown butter sauce with plump raisins, centered on a plate that’s artfully smeared with chicken liver and bread crumbs. Throw in a killer playlist (Father John Misty, Dawes, Arctic Monkeys, and White Rabbit) and you have the corridor’s most innovative new restaurant–let’s all hope the rest of that neighborhood stretch follows suit. All hail the Ustreenaissance.
The Fainting Goat is located at 1330 U Street NW and is open Monday – Thursday from 5:00pm to 2:00am, on Friday from 5:00pm to 3:00am, on Saturday from 11:00am to 3:00am, and on Sunday from 11:00am to midnight.