In a former furniture store in the heart of U Street, Fainting Goat is a relatively new addition to the neighborhood that has managed to not let the allure of 14th Street overshadow it. With three bars and two floors of spacious-casual dining, the restaurant offers a somewhat limited, but structured menu - which is a welcomed approach from what many kitchens offer - a menu that requires a half hour of reading just to get through it. The recently updated spring menu provides four dining options: nibbles/grazing/chomping/feeding, the nibbles being very much a sharing course while the chomp and feed to be more substantial dishes, with the feed section of the menu offering dishes including skate over succotash and English peas, which is slightly more sophisticated than the sausage and burger offered to chomp on.
It's all about the char, but I'm not complaining.
At $6, the simplicity of grilled bread with ricotta goes further than you could imagine, topped off with walnuts and honey makes it a perfect nibble to start off with. A light and airy bread, slightly charred and lathered in a creamy ricotta, I'd have ordered two but I'm going easy on the carbs, or so I told myself.
There's a theme here - the leeks came charred too, baby leeks served over buttermilk and lemon with a side of romesco (which wasn't needed in my opinion), I'm a huge fan of leeks and these didn't disappoint, al dente to touch and not too pungent.
About those carbs, I couldn't pass over the sausage (I rarely do) which was served on a soft-butter roll, slightly grilled which was spread with a charred eggplant puree giving it a subtle burned flavor, this was a nice surprise as the eggplant wasn't described on the menu this way. I think some people might not appreciate the charred flavors but it provided an added layer to the accompanying peppers and mustard.
My dining partner ordered what he thought was the skate sandwich but what arrived was the skate entree, he decided to keep what was served as it was a plate full of beans, peas and greens, he's obviously the healthier of the two of us.
The dining room is whimsical and the food adventurous, but by no means pretentious. Fainting Goat has been added to the list of restaurants I'll dine at when I'm wanting something fun and reliable, I'm just annoyed it's taken me nearly six months to give it a try.
Fainting Goat, 1330 U Street, NW Washington, DC (closest metro: U Street/Cardozo)