Written by Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Wooden Goat brings a new taste to the bustling streets of Avondale: a fresh fusion of Thai and Vietnamese flavors. Here you’ll find dishes that will surprise, stretch, and most of all, satisfy your palate. With an eclectic vibe, generous portions, and Avondale brews and spirits, Wooden Goat should be the place you go for your next night out.
Wooden Goat is located at 4100 Third Avenue South in Avondale. We arrive at 5 p.m. and before long, the place is packed with folks of all ages. Patio seating is available on the left side. Inside, an industrial ambience greets guests with metal chairs and bar stools, an L-shaped bar, and wooden plank table tops below string lighting with Edison bulbs. To the right of the restaurant, exotic aromas drift into the dining space from its partially open kitchen.
The restaurant is a new concept by Birmingham chef Matt Ralph, who previously worked at Hotbox (the Airstream trailer restaurant behind Parkside that everyone is always talking about). Service staff is young and friendly, adding a welcoming vibe to the restaurant.
The beverage list offers Avondale beer and spirits. So among their cocktails, which include Thai Basil Lemonade, the Ginger Goat, and the Green Chili Gimlet, we opt for the lemonade and the gimlet. The lemonade arrives in a tall glass on the rocks with a lemon garnish. This refreshing drink is pink in color and is made with palm sugar. The gimlet is served in a Champagne coupe. It is light green and arrives with a slice of lime floating on top. Made of Thai chili vodka, this cold cocktail heats up the palate from first to last sips, and it pairs well with the cuisine.
The menu is separated by a line of demarcation. We opt for two of the appetizer dishes, listed up top: Brussels sprouts and country spare ribs. The Brussels sprouts arrive on a slender platter accompanied by cauliflower—Thai braised to perfection and topped with wilted mint. The spare ribs arrive in an enormous bowl with six ribs atop pickled greens and covered with a chili dip. The ribs are tender with a strong pork flavor. And the greens offer a tart base. This dish is a meal for one person, so we rethink our entrée options. We ask the size of the Pad Thai. And after finding out it’s as generous as the pork bowl, we decide to split it, rather than also order the grilled baby octopus as we had first considered.
The bowl arrives with a bed of sprouts topped with chicken and four enormous head-on shrimp on top with nuts. We squeeze lime over the top and savor this delicious noodle dish. Sadly, we had no room for dessert, but they offer a kaffir lime tart, which is made in a fortune cookie crust with condensed milk ice cream.