As you peruse the menu of the Tipsy Boar, a gastropub that opened in January in downtown Hollywood, you'll find the restaurant is aptly named. Its menu is a gut-busting, beer-swigging delight. The Boar is the latest addition to the Hollywood restaurant fiefdom of Fulvio Sardelli's family, which includes the adjacent Fulvio's 1900 and Vino, as well as Sardelli's on Hollywood Beach. In the kitchen is Michael Blum, who cultivated national attention with Michael's Kitchen in the early 2000s, once just a block over on the same street.
If you know downtown Hollywood well, you may notice that the Tipsy Boar seems equal parts Harrison Street and Hollywood Boulevard. While it has the highly social atmosphere and bar-going crowd of the boulevard, it also boasts the more-intriguing culinary aspirations of other Harrison restaurants.
The Boar brings to the scene what we like to see in downtown Hollywood: restaurateurs who take chances on the menu, invest heavily in remodeling and then cultivate spots where youngsters (and those who feel young) can be in their element. This restaurant joins the ranks of new arrivals such as La Vendetta, Kussifay and Cinquecento, which have substantially remodeled their interiors to improve the attractiveness of the area — unlike other recently opened spots that simply smacked on a fresh coat of paint and hung cheesy prints from Target, if that.
Overall, we love the ambiance here. The interior has been reimagined from Luce, its previous incarnation, but the Sardellis did have the smarts to keep the beautiful wood-fire pizza oven, which provides a relaxing, welcoming glow (along with some pretty good pizza). Nearly full-length windows run along both exterior walls, which provide a view of the stone patio and make the space feel larger and more open than it actually is. The staff was actively managing the lighting and sound levels as the sky darkened and the crowd increased in size. Behind the bar and above a row of about 40 beer taps, an enormous blackboard displays the available beers — a solid list that includes enough variety and craft selections to entice most beer aficionados.
After challenging the bartender to surprise me with two mystery sets of beer flights (four small glasses for $8 to $10 total), I got an assortment of heady, punchy beers that would make a beer snob smile, along with a few curiously flavored oddballs (looking at you, freaky-tasting banana-bread-flavored beer).
The menu offers a fun mix of — for lack of a better term — elevated bar food offering loads of tasty fat and sugar. Blum's crew holds nothing back when it comes to primal, hypothalamus-pounding flavors. Cornbread topped with maple syrup and bacon crumbles ($5) is a land-mine-shaped, salty-sweet explosion for people who like their cornbread thick rather than airy.
The kitchen seems to have the most fun in coming up with funky croquette ideas, with fillings such as lamb gyro, pulled pork and goat cheese ($7 for three). Being a croqueta and risotto fiend, I had to try the portobello-risotto croquettes, which were perfectly fried and tasty, though I would have liked more cheesiness on the interior despite the wonderful mascarpone sauce with which it's served.
Pizzas are a solid get here, with plenty of fun, gastropub-ish options, such as turkey-confit pizza ($13), sausage-and-broccoli-rabe pizza ($12) and crudaiola pizza with prosciutto, arugula and other ingredients ($13). We went for a Hawaiian pizza ($10) to try the much-vaunted pork belly. Score one for the restaurant with a tasty, thin crust, the right amount of pineapple and delicious strips of meat. Pesto-shrimp pizza ($13) was another good offering, topped generously with pesto and tasty shrimplets.
Artisan wings topped with caramelized onions ($10) need some work, being overly dry clones of the locally famous wings at Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza, sans the focaccia.
Much better are the Tipsy Boar's burgers, which include a meatloaf burger with cranberry-habanero jam ($11), a "HAM" burger with sausage ($13), pulled pork and bacon, and plenty of other heavily carnivorous options. Eschewing the wilder options, I wanted to try the more-straightforward Millionaire Bacon Burger ($14), well executed and topped with thick slices of bacon, cheddar and a scrumptious orange-rum-barbecue sauce.
I'll reserve my highest praise for the lobster mac and cheese ($18), made with an expert blend of Muenster, Parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. The light-tasting cheeses allow the lobster to take center stage.
Dessert at the Tipsy Boar is not to be missed. The kitchen shows its skills with an oven with three classic yet outstanding desserts: triple-fudge brownie ($7), apple-pie cobbler ($8) and bread pudding ($7). The cobbler and ice cream on the brownie are both topped with a fantastic butterscotch, Schnapps-based reduction that teases the palate. All three of these desserts are packed with high-octane sweetness and richness, so you're just going to have to duke it out with your guests. Make sure you remind your server to serve the apple pie hot, as the one we got was served room temperature. Nevertheless, it was still delicious, with its flaky, multilayered crust.
The Tipsy Boar is a bold, if occasionally over-the-top, spot with an outstanding ambiance that brings new and enticing elements to downtown Hollywood. We're looking forward to once again feeling like drunken, happy pigs on a visit here.
The Tipsy Boar
1906 Harrison St., Hollywood
Cuisine: Gastropub fare, burgers, pizza
Cost: Inexpensive to moderate
Hours: Noon-2 a.m. daily
Bar: Full service
Sound level: Moderate to loud
Outside smoking: Yes
Credit cards: All major
For kids: Highchairs, kids menu
Wheelchair accessible: Yes