Last time my wife Jun and I visited Tail Up Goat, one of the perennially popular restaurants in Adams Morgan, it was back in the fall of 2021. The meal was overall solid (with a killer ribeye that was easily one of the dishes we’d had that year), but it did not quite win us over. In recollection, I think a lot of that mixed feeling had to do with the curiously uneven service (we didn’t even get our first bite of the night until after 40 minutes we ordered), and in any event we had been enthusiastically visiting the sister restaurant Reveler’s Hour for its awesome pastas so Tail Up Goat quietly fell off my radar. It was not until late last year that I learned the restaurant revamped it’s a la carte menu to a four-course tasting menu (although a la carte options are still available in the bar area). While the switch in the menu format does not necessarily mean that the restaurant has decided to up its game, I was especially intrigued when Tail Up Goat announced a two-week special event to celebrate its seventh-year birthday featuring the supposedly greatest hits from the restaurant since its opening. I decided to pull the trigger on the special event, and we had a much more memorable dinner this time.
The four-course tasting menu at Tail Up Goat consists of snacks, followed by three courses where each diner can order from three different options in each course. After the delicious bites of sweet potato, rabbit sausage and crispy salt cod, we knew that the revamp of Tail Up Goat was to be taken seriously when the first course arrived. Seared scallop at the restaurant is not just any other scallop; the addition of pint nut mousse and chili crunch greatly enhanced the overall flavor and texture to the scallop. If you are unfamiliar with salsify, a type of root vegetable, the dish at Tail Up Goat would have been a terrific introduction, prepared in a BBQ style and accompanied by duck egg aioli and crispy onion.
Just like at its Reveler’s Hour, Tail Up Goat doesn’t take pasta dishes lightly and it showed during our visit. While the carrot raviolo with apricot and pistachio was a very nice manifestation of the garden ingredients, I was especially fond of the other pasta, a gorro de bruja dish with rustic pork belly ragu that was even more delicious with the addition of spicy chili breadcrumb. For our last savory courses, the lamb ribs with pistachio dukkah and sumac onion were quite competently executed with no gamey flavor, but the more impressive dish was the chicken fried hen of the woods mushroom with burnt bread sauce that was unlike any other mushroom dishes we had eaten before. Both dessert dishes we had ordered were also delightful, especially the butterscotch budino with burnt marshmallow that we couldn’t stop digging.
Tail Up Goat is still a popular dining destination in DC even after seven plus years, so getting a reservation in advance via Resy is essential, especially for weekend tables (also note that the restaurant doesn’t accommodate parties larger than four). The upscale yet casual atmosphere of the restaurant, similar to Reveler’s Hour, makes Tail Up Goat a fantastic option for all types of occasions from catching up with friends and family to romantic date nights. The service this time was more or less seamless, and the eclectic wine list assorted by seasonally changing themes is another strength to the restaurant’s dining experience. Throughout our culinary journey, Jun and I have not usually given second chances to a restaurant when our first experience was solid not particularly exceptional. I’m happy to be proven that some places like Tail Up Goat deserve another look, and look forward to checking out the restaurant again for the next menu.
KenScale: 8.5/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.5/10)
Address: 1827 Adams Mill Road NW, Washington, DC 20009
Reservation via Resy