The name of the restaurant is initially a head-scratcher, but Tail Up Goat is anything but puzzling. My visit to the new Adams Morgan restaurant leaves me eager to extol its virtues.
First, let’s try and clear up the curious name. Tail Up Goat is inspired by the U.S. Virgin Islands where co-owner and Service Director Jill Tyler was raised. The island is overrun with goat and sheep, so the way to tell the difference: Tail up goat. Tail down sheep.
I mention the restaurant to a friend who exclaims, “Sounds great. I love goat!” But there’s no goat on the menu. However, the trio of owners, including Chef Jon Sybert and Beverage Director Bill Jensen met at DC’s Little Serow and Komi, where the goat dish is legendary. This may be confusing, but set any nagging doubts aside. Tail Up Goat is a worthwhile journey into unique flavor combinations.
The Mediterranean-influenced menu includes mostly small plates and just two shared entrees. There’s a strong emphasis on bread and pasta. My dining companions/family members are three pescatarians; one is gluten free. I’ve communicated the restrictions in advance, and upon arrival we’re provided a menu that shows permissible dishes, and possible adaptations. Kudos for this. The menu now includes gluten-free pasta. Double kudos!
There’s plenty to satisfy pescetarians and vegetarians on the small but captivating menu.
Braised carrots with sticky garlic and honeycomb gains appeal as you give the ingredients a swirl. We finish the carrots and take turns spooning out remains of the luscious broth.
Charred chocolate rye accompanies salt-crusted sardines, which oddly attracts me despite an aversion to sardines. I spread a thin layer of sardines on a thick slice of darkly charred bread, sprinkle some crystals of salt on top, and rethink my long-held negative opinion.
Sunchokes are in season and on trend. Tail Up Goat serves them with bagna cauda, an Italian sauce made from anchovies, garlic, and butter. Parsley adds color and freshness.
Thin slices of radishes and apples make perfect devices to scoop up fresh stracciatella.
The dish that oozes with originality is smoked rutabaga ravioli, with toasted gingerbread crumbs, and basil mint pesto.
Whole stuffed porgy, stuffed with kale, dotted with currants, and a side of parsnip cream is pure ecstasy for our pescatarians.
Grilled quail with Greek yogurt and chimichurri is all mine. It’s a bony bird, so I attack it with my fingers, feeling a bitThe sauce is so powerfully flavorful that it could rev up any fish or fowl. Wet naps help keep me neat and tidy, but a slice of bread would be an even better way to sop up the sauce.
The decor at Tail Up Goat evokes a subtle island theme, with an impressionist seascape painted on the walls. Servers wear clothing reminiscent of the staff at Little Serow…a half-hipster, half-Mennonite look. Their enthusiasm is infectious, although it’s a little difficult to hear over the noise that pervades the packed room.
Tail Up Goat is a restaurant that shines brightly in its early days. After my first visit, I’m not at all sheepish about giving it a big thumbs up.
Tail Up Goat, 1827 Adams Mill Road NW, Washington, DC
City Paper article by Jessica Sidman, “Tail Up Goat Really Loves Bread”