Get Tipsy in T.O.

By Allison Costa 04/28/2011

The Tipsy Goat
159 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks
$6.95 - $19.95

They wear black T-shirts printed simply with “Sláinte!”, an Irish and Scottish drinking toast akin to “good health!” They wind their way through the beer drinking crowds, delivering platters of Irish nachos and plates of fried mac and cheese bites. Their customers are generally in a festive mood, thanks to a flowing beer tap and a fully stocked bar. They are the wait staff at The Tipsy Goat, a new bar and restaurant that’s garnering lots of attention in Thousand Oaks.

We stopped in for dinner on a recent Saturday night, and the place was packed. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones drawn in by the atypical name and the impressive menu. The menu offers a mix of small plates, generous appetizers, sandwiches, salads and entrees. Given the feisty name of the restaurant, it’s no surprise that it also offers a broad selection of beers on tap and a nice-looking wine list. Though the menu is well thought-out — a mix of Irish, Scottish and American fare — the emphasis appears to be on the bar.

There is no hostess to seat you; patrons must find their own tables. Umbrella-topped tables are your option on the patio. Inside, one room offers a cozy fireplace and leather couches, a spot so warm and welcoming you may not want to leave. Another room offers standing room only, a few pool tables, a dart board and a small shuffleboard game. The main bar area offers seats at the bar and at tables, and plenty of room to stand around and scope out a table while you sip a beer.

The beer selection at The Tipsy Goat includes a variety of bottled and draft beers, ranging from Guinness to Bud Light.

Never able to turn away a creamy glass of Guinness, we ordered one to start our meal. Though the flavor of the beer was delicious as always, the pour was not up to par. Rather than leave the beer to settle at the bar for a few minutes before topping it off (standard Guinness protocol), the bartender brought it to us immediately. Though we appreciated the prompt service, we couldn’t help but notice the error.

We started our meal with the Irish tacos and the Scotched egg. The tacos came four to a plate — each crispy shell filled with shredded beef, aged Irish cheddar, shredded cabbage and a goat cheese horseradish sauce. Though the menu said the beef was corned beef, it lacked the saltiness, texture and pink color generally associated with that preparation. The flavor of the cheddar was hard to find, yet we did enjoy the crunch of the shell and the tangy sauce.

On this particular day, it seemed that the Irish flavors — the main selling point of the dish — had been lost.

The Scotched egg — a hard-boiled egg wrapped in housemade sausage, rolled in panko breadcrumbs and deep fried — was one of the stars of the evening. Cut in half and sitting in a puddle of garlic, herb and goat cheese aioli, the presentation was impressive. As for the taste, the flavor of the sausage, reminiscent of a good country sausage, was divine, as was the crunch of the bread-crumb shell.

For our entrees, we selected the buffalo bomber sandwich and the shepherd’s pie. Though given prime billing on the menu — enclosed in a large text box, implying it was something special — the buffalo bomber was a bit of a bomb.

The chicken was moist, the breading thick and crispy, and the buffalo sauce kickin’; yet the chicken breast was small, the crumbles of blue cheese so large that they kept falling out, and the whole affair was a challenge to eat. It came with a pile of plain waffle fries.

In contrast, the shepherd’s pie arrived neat and tidy, contained in cute oval dish fresh from the oven. Whereas a typical shepherd’s pie is made with a thick gravy, The Tipsy Goat does theirs with a silky broth made with stout, reminiscent of the bold flavors of a good French onion soup. The broth was filled with pieces of braised rib eye, topped with a square of puff pastry, a mound of mashed potatoes, and finished with a sprinkling of goat cheese. As the goat cheese tumbled into the broth, it imparted a touch of creaminess and a brilliant tang to the whole dish. Happily plowing through, our only disappointment was that we couldn’t find more of the tender, flavorful meat hidden under the pastry.

Dessert options at The Tipsy Goat include a Guinness float, a goat cheese crème brulée, and a seasonal cobbler. We opted for the latter, a square of blueberry cobbler topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Though we appreciated the hearty portion size, the cobbler itself was mild on taste and rather average.

All in all, The Tipsy Goat is really on to something with its name, its menu, the prompt and friendly service, and the festive atmosphere. An explanation of the story behind the name and how the restaurant came to be would make for a nice addition to the menu. Though it has the potential to be a great restaurant, for now it still seems to be coming into its own and enjoying its role as a hip new bar.   

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