The Tipsy Cow is one of the newest entrants into the Winnipeg restaurant market. Located at 285 Portage Avenue, it’s the third restaurant to occupy that space in the last five years. I visited the space when it was La Bamba, but didn’t make it there when it was The Planit.
However, it is close at hand to Holy Trinity, and so needing a place that was close at hand the other day, I decided to give The Tipsy Cow a try. It also gave me an opportunity to make a token gesture towards Le Burger Week. With over 100 burgers on offer Le Burger Week seems to have gotten a little excessive, however, I figured if I was going to try a new restaurant, I might as well at least try one that was participating in Le Burger Week.
Lunching at The Tipsy Cow
One thing I do clearly remember from my visits to La Bamba, was how dismally dim and dark the restaurant was. As someone who dines alone, I often have a book with me to read, and at La Bamba’s that was impossible. I’m not sure who is responsible for the brightening up of the space, but it is much brighter. The walls are clean with two or three painting on the wall that speak to The Tipsy Cow as a place for burgers and bevvies.
There is a good selection of seating to choose from. There’s seating at the bar, a good number of four tops, and also a good number of two tops. Again as a a single diner, this is something I quite like. Although calling themselves a bar The Tipsy Cow has more of a restaurant feel to it. There are a couple of TVs in the bar area, and one large one at the back of the restaurant, but they don’t really command the eye in any way.
Le Burger Week Lunch
On my first visit, I decided that I would simply go for the Le Burger Week choice.
6oz of 100% pure, fresh beef chuck. Served on a toasted, buttery bun with purple lemon aioli, crisp romaine heart, Bothwell marble cheddar & honey dill pickles
This is a good burger. I enjoyed the fact that the toppings and sauce were mild in flavour and so they didn’t overwhelm the beef in the burger.
For a side, I went with the Herb Chicken Noodle Soup. Once again, as was the case with my visit to Deer + Almond during Le Burger Week, it was the soup that stole the show. The broth is rich and hearty, but best of all there is lots of substance to the soup. Chicken is the primary ingredient with lots of pieces of roast chicken floating amid the noodles and vegetables. This is a great, fortifying, lunchtime soup.
Back Again for Lunch
My second visit to The Tipsy Cow was again a lunch visit. This time I ordered the Chips with Beet Cream Cheese appetizer, and the Charcuterie platter.
The chips, which are pictured at the top of the post, were well seasoned, and slightly warmed, without losing their crispiness. I really enjoyed the Beet Cream Cheese Dip. The dip was not too thick, and the beet flavour came through without overpowering the mildness of the cream cheese.
The Charcuterie was okay, but seemed to be lacking a little in imagination. I enjoy Bothwell Marble Cheese, but Bothwell makes a great variety of cheeses and it would be nice to see a little bit of that variety on the platter here. While the deli meats were pleasant enough, neither of them stood out in any way. However, The Tipsy Cow is still in its soft opening stage, and hopefully they will continue to work to refine this dish.
One other element with the soft opening process is that the draft beers were not available when I went for lunch. So, I decided to give the Mongozo a try. The Mongozo Premium Pilsener is a light and crisp beverage. It made a great accompaniment to the Chips and Charcuterie.
The Tipsy Cow Dinner
Even with the soft opening aspect of the place, the menu felt a little light, and so I decided that I would pay one more visit, this time at dinner. It turns out that the dinner menu is a little bit broader, so I was glad that I came back to give it a try.
Once again I went with an appetizer and a main dish. For my appetizer I chose the wings with Korean BBQ Sauce, and for my main dish, I went with the Sweet, Spicy & Delicious Poutine.
The wings were good but not quite great. The sauce itself is very flavourful, with good sweetness, but the wings themselves weren’t particularly crispy. Again, this may just be something that the habits of doing it over and over will improve, but for now this wouldn’t be a go to place for wings.
When it comes to the Sweet, Spicy, and Delicious Poutine, only two of those three statements are true. Fortunately, it’s the first and the last. I didn’t detect a hint of spice, however, the candied bacon adds a really distinctive character to this poutine. The egg on top was nicely soft cooked, but I didn’t get around to it for a couple of minutes so I missed on the yolk mixing in. There is plenty of gravy and curds to go along with a good helping of the bacon. Combined with the wings, this was more than I could handle.
I finished off my meal with an Irish Coffee. This made a pleasant and comfortable end to the meal.
After three visits here, I would rate the service as very good. The staff greet arrivals in a friendly manner. They know the dishes. Service is prompt and food arrives in a timely, but leisurely manner. One thing, and this may be a training issue, my last visit coincided with the end of my server’s shift. Rather than asking if I wanted my bill when I received my Irish Coffee, the server simply signed out and I had to wait for several minutes to finally get my bill. A bit of a quibble, but something that would make the dining experience better.
The Tipsy Cow looks like it has the essentials to make a long run of it in it’s current location. Maybe they will be able to get a sign that overhangs Portage Avenue so that the space is more visible from the street. It’s got some growing pains to go through, but The Tipsy Cow is a real good addition to the downtown restaurant scene.