Reporter's Notebook: Wild Goose gives customers golden egg

The lovable dive known as the Little Knight left its spot on 17th Street in August, and the Wild Goose Tavern has swooped in.

Reporter Jill Cowan and I stopped by for media night Nov. 8. Not just a bar, the tavern boasts a menu of gourmet sausages, burgers and interesting sides, such as sweet potato tater tots topped with goat cheese — which were delicious.

The charm that made the spot a favorite watering hole for years hasn't left. The plasma TVs and the bar stayed put, but the bar itself has been updated with hammered copper, and there's a back bar made of wood from a Tennessee barn. Banquet leather seating is updated in black and red tufted booths.

Arcade games no longer line the walls, but the pool table still stands. The back patio, a favorite spot for many locals to escape the noise, has been renovated with wood paneling.

The theme is retro hunting lodge with a contemporary twist. Beware of taxidermy geese and the mythical jackalope that peer down while you knock back a brew.

After asking the waitress to help me narrow down my choices, I went for the Guinness bratwurst topped with red cabbage, onions, garlic aioli and whole-grain mustard.

The brat was flavorful, and, surprisingly, the toppings didn't make it overwhelming — but eating it without making a mess is a feat. The bun, which was crusty and flaky but soft on the inside, wasn't an afterthought.

Jill went for the Turkey Day, a turkey sausage topped with dark cherry-orange compote, sweet potato, sweet Dijon, apple and basil salad. She said she went home happy.

The menu items are reasonably priced ranging from $7 to $9. The specialty cocktails, not beer or well drinks, were priced at $12. Their website mentions happy hour.

The beer list includes eight beers on tap, all of which are craft brews except for Guinness and Bud Light. They offer 16 other brews by the bottle, half of which are craft.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Wild Goose becomes a hangout for watching football on rainy Sundays or a hot spot for drinks on weekend nights.

The Wild Goose Tavern is at 436 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa. The Little Knight will reopen as the Black Knight at The Triangle, according to its Facebook page.

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Twitter: @joannaclay

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