The Smoking Goat
BY MIKE PUCKETT
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The Smoking Goat, located in North Park, is one of my favorite spots in San Diego. Local, organic, sustainable, community and family-owned; this is not just chatter from The Smoking Goat. It lives and breathes these words and you can taste these values with every bite. The Smoking Goat and Executive Chef Fred Piehl craft flavors so elegantly that every time you visit is a totally different experience.
The first thing you notice as you walk up to the restaurant is the large sign portraying a goat greeting you from above. The rustic décor really makes you feel at home. There are a couple of different areas for seating depending on your mood or the size of your party. There is outdoor seating, but the night we dropped by it was actually drizzling rain… what are the odds?
We started off with a couple of Rusty Kids: Carpano Antica, fresh OJ and bitters. This was a very good start to a great night. We asked Chef Piehl for his selection of dishes and wine pairings. This is what we usually do to get the best experience.
We started the meal off with the House-Cured Scottish Salmon, consisted of a tempting combination of wild arugula, fennel, citrus, basil, mint and olive oil. The salmon was unbelievable; it just melted in your mouth.
Next up was the House-Made Butternut Squash Ravioli, a delightful dish made with kale, butter and sage.
And, finally, we got to sample the Tartiflette, a wonderful mixture of Brie and Taleggio cheese, onions, bacon lardons, potatoes, and ciabatta. The blend of cheeses with the onion and bacon gave it that savory flavor and creamy aroma you expect in such a dish. Take a look at the photography and see for yourself. I highly recommend all three appetizers as I can’t pick one over the other.
We then ordered a couple of salads to share. The Beet Salad is a colorful medley of mixed lettuces, walnuts, and goat cheese. But my favorite, no doubt due to my addiction to blue cheese, was the Pear and Blue Cheese Salad; delectable poached and raw pears topped with pistachio pesto and drizzled in champagne vinaigrette. Such vibrant flavors from a salad; I loved it!
Now it was time for the entrees, as if our starters weren’t enough. We shared the 10-oz Harris Ranch California Ribeye: a tender steak, cooked to perfection, served with herb butter and red wine sauce, duck fat truffle fries, and salad on the side. I sincerely love my steaks and this one was right up there with the best. It took everything I had not to eat the whole thing. However, my mother taught me better and that was a great lesson learned, because our other entrée was the Porchetta. This delicious dish consisted of slow-cooked pork belly, cheesy polenta, upland cress, goathorn pepper relish, roasted tomatoes, and chickpeas. If you haven’t experienced Porchetta, you must take a stab at it on your next date night.
Of course, dessert cannot be dismissed, and it most certainly was not. We enjoyed the Griddled Banana Bread, a taste sensation which took me back to when I was growing up and my mother would bake it for a special holiday breakfast. It was accompanied by Bananas Foster and vanilla ice cream.
As if one dessert wasn’t enough, I had to try the “Goat Cheese” Cheesecake, a decadently-rich dessert cake topped with vanilla-poached nectarines and whipped cream. Both desserts were out-of-this-world delicious! You should definitely pick at least one to share.
What a beautiful evening, once again, and it was a shame it had to end. A great meal is always more than a dinner; it’s an experience you can get lost in. Well, back to reality and a very full drive back home to La Jolla… until next time Chef!
PHOTOGRAPHY: MIKE PUCKETT
The Smoking Goat
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