The Stubborn Goat is an almost perfect blend of the styles found at the owners' other popular establishments, Durty Nelly's and Saege. It's a restaurant that seems built around the idea of appealing to as many people as possible—there's a thoughtful beer menu, a simple wine menu and the food focuses on trendy comfort food like pizza and mac 'n' cheese.
But while they have tried to infuse personality into the decor with an almost obsessive inclusion of goats in all of the artwork, there is something very generic about the space and its brick, bare lightbulbs, dark wood and high benches.
On my first visit I go for an early dinner with a friend. There are some open tables downstairs, so we sit not far from the bar. Gordon Ramsay's grimace glows at us from behind the bar where The Food Network flickers silently on a couple of flatscreen TVs.
Taking a pass on a heavy-sounding entree menu, we order from the more exciting social menu, made up of smaller sharing plates priced between $5 and $15. We get the roasted shishito peppers ($7), deviled eggs ($6), meatballs ($7) and hand-cut fries ($6). We're told that the plates will come out haphazardly, whenever each is ready.
It's not long before the fries show up. The use of the truffle salt is a little overbearing, but the fries themselves are crisp and delicious. The shishito peppers are also quite good. While I'm a bigger fan of sweet, round padrón peppers—I personally find gangly shishito peppers are a touch too bitter at times—it's nice to see this dish on a menu in Halifax. Much like edamame, I find salty, charred peppers absolutely addictive.
The meatballs aren't bad. They fall a little on the bland side, even stuffed with cheese, but benefit a lot from the harissa heat of the sauce that they sit in.
The eggs, however, are a huge disappointment. While the deep-frying is novel, the bland, oily breading blows out the delicate flavour of the egg. There is still a nice creaminess to the texture, but very little seasoning in the yolk mixture and it is, as a whole, a very boring take on what can be a really exciting dish.
I leave a little bored and disappointed by the food, but don't want to give up on the Goat quite so quickly, so I head back for brunch with another friend.
The brunch menu shares a lot of focus with the dinner menu, but also has some weekend-friendly dishes, like the chicken 'n' waffles ($14) and eggs benny with avocado and chilies ($13) which we order. We also each get a coffee.
The chicken 'n' waffles are good. It is a cutesy take on a taco, with floppy waffles acting as the shells, and a corn and bacon salsa that has nice sweet and salty notes. But the chipotle cream lacks personality and only serves to remind me what a poor substitute this for a classic Southern chicken and waffle dish, with sweet maple syrup and savoury sausage gravy.
The eggs benny, however, are flat-out great. The eggs are poached a perfect medium, the hollandaise is smooth and flavourful, and the avocado and chili combination is really wonderful, creamy with just a slight kick of spice. The only weird part is that it comes with a pile of fries. An option for greens or home fries—something a little brunchier—would be nice, but the fries are, again, great.
I definitely prefer brunch to dinner service, but I am in no real rush to go back to The Stubborn Goat. It's a pretty average restaurant, and we are lucky enough to have a bunch of better-than-average options in Halifax right now.
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