Event - Wild Goose Tavern Preview

Life's got to be exciting today for Mario and Andrew, co-owners of Wild Goose Tavern, and their crew as they just opened their doors to the public this morning! Congrats on getting to this day! I had the honor of conducting a phone interview with those two [read about it here!] and then attending the media preview night yesterday. It was well-attended and happily buzzing in there as the night went on.


So first things first - the tavern was slightly difficult to find because the main sign had yet to be put up. However, that actually added to a mystique about the place; perhaps only locals who knew the secret are the only ones who can drop in! If you're looking for the tavern, it's tucked away in the plaza next to Ruby's Diner (tavern address is 436 East 17th Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92627). Once you get inside though, the atmosphere is welcoming. With rustic Americana ware all over and mostly wood adorning the walls, floors, and seats, the Wild Goose Tavern is definitely a neighborhood kind of place. Not only was the bar well-stocked (and impressively so) but the staff service was also phenomenal.


Funnily enough, even with the small menu choices we had, it was difficult to actually choose things to eat since they all sounded so good. In terms of drinks, Duc had the Eagle Rare 10 Year bourbon and I the Mango Habanero Margarita (house infused agave underground reposado, mango puree, and hand-squeezed lime juice). They were both excellent. In fact, the drinks were so excellent that Duc put in another order for a third drink which was the Rye on the Beach (bulleit rye, pineapple juice, ginger beer, and hand-squeezed orange juice). The cocktails and bourbon were smooth and well balanced. For appetizers, we snagged the truffle herb fries ($3 - standard fare) and the sweet potato & goat cheese tots ($4 - he liked it so much that we got three orders of it overall...). The tots were definitely something else. They were made by shredded sweet potato that had been patted together with goat cheese and then deep-fried. There was even goat cheese on the outside. Delicious!


We looked around the room as we ate and noticed the more relaxed back area with its billiards table. The decor on the wall was fitting; as I had learned through my interview with the owners, each piece has a backstory and most of them were from flea markets. There was also the signature wild goose taxidermy piece. What caught our eye was the digital jukebox in the back corner. Talk about a fusion between old school and new age! I'd love to play around with that device one day. By the way, we caught a rare sighting of a jackalope - keep your eyes peeled for it when you wander around the tavern yourself.


So we've talked about drinks and ambiance but let's talk a little bit about the superb food they had. Their limited menu consists of sausages, burgers, salads, sides, and bar snacks. We weren't feeling like salads and the sides had already been taken care of through copious amounts of tots. The bar snacks available included a cabanossi slim jim which we did order - it was excellent. I didn't even know you could have a fresh "slim jim" like this. For $2, it's a perfect snack for having while relaxing at the bar. Anyhow, we asked for their most popular choices so let's talk first about the amazing creation that is their Cilantro Caprese burger. With a huge slice of fried mozzarella atop a beef patty and smothered in cilantro chimichurri, this burger was a hit; the oven-dried tomatoes and garlic aioli also played into the perfection. It had every part that a good burger needed from juicy meat to crunchy topping to fresh taste (cilantro does wonders!). I highly recommend it.

Our sausages for the night were the Guinness Bratwurst (Guinness brat, braised red cabbage and onions, garlic aioli, and whole grain mustard) which had well flavored toppings and a definite stout taste and the Chicken Mole (chicken mole sausage, roasted beet relish, garlic aioli, fried quail egg, and Sriracha) which was a kick in the face with its flavorful spiciness and presented well with the delicate quail egg on top. Overall, a nice place to drop by and hang around if you're in the area. It looks like somewhere you'd stay for several hours, chatting it up with your closest friends. Thank you to Rob and others involved for having us - I wish you all the best with this tavern because it sure as heck already has me sold!

Photography by Duc Duong and Minerva Thai. More photos available on Facebook.

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