Adams Morgan is not known for fanciness. It’s known for bars where you drink to get drunk, various jumbo slices, and hookah bars. What Becky, Jane, and I learned one sweltering Sunday evening is that AdMo can be fancy if you know where to look. And I’m serious when I mean you really have to know where to look. Having seen the good reviews flow in, I suggested we try Tail Up Goat, a new restaurant with Mediterranean style cuisine and Caribbean inspired drinks. However, when we arrived at the appropriate address along the main drag of the neighborhood, we instead found a coffee shop called “Philz” and not much else. We paced back and forth for a bit until trying some of the side streets nearby and eventually found Tail Up Goat tucked around the corner with maybe the most subtle sign that has ever marked a place of interest. Had we read the “Directions” section on Tail Up Goat’s website we could have avoided our temporary confusion and you could have avoided this boring story about three people that couldn’t find a building, but such is life.
The inside of Tail Up Goat can be best described as “comfortable”. Everything was really cozy. Soft lighting. Great acoustics (an entirely underrated feature of a restaurant). Just a nice place to sit, really. But you can also eat and drink there, which made it even better. That mood was almost ruined within a few minutes with a round of compliments of the chef drinks as palate cleansers. Now I’m not one to complain about getting something for free, but I’m about to do just that. Tasted like cucumber and sweat, both of which are things no one should be ingesting. Jane and Becky seemed to like the lil drinks, so I let them fight over the dregs of mine. I also noticed early on that Tail Up Goat generally will not let you go thirsty as they have an armada of water pourers on staff. My water glass was refilled by no fewer than 67 unique people, I’m pretty sure.
We then move on to a round of cocktails, so I could hopefully put the dinner back on the right track. Anything to erase that horrid taste from my mouth. Jane ordered some drink that tasted like Christmas, courtesy of all of the all spice. Becky had a really confusing drink that had balsamic and strawberry and led to many questions. I couldn’t tell if it was good or not. I went for a classic – the dark & stormy. Tail Up Goat actually offers two versions of the dark & stormy – the Bill’s and the Jill’s (one spicy with homemade ginger beer, the other more citrus forward). I went for the Bill’s (#meninism lol), and life was good again.
The first nom of the evening was the garlic knots. OMG. The bread was flaky and doughy at the same time, and we came for garlic, and were definitely delivered a shitload of garlic (which is always great). But then there was something else. Something much MORE else. Some sort of irresistible tang that none of us could quite figure out.
We then kept the bread train rolling with the brown rice bread, which came highly recommended by our server. I’m not quite sure how one makes a brown rice bread, but there are indeed kernels of brown rice visible when you busted it open. The bread itself was like a really light rye (I did not hate it). The toast was topped high with dates, yogurts, squash, and pine nuts. It was really flavorful and one of those combinations of flavors that takes you by surprise. Ended up being the favorite of both Becky and Jane, and I couldn’t argue with that. I think I particularly liked it because after the night out in AdMo a few days before in which I wolfed down a jumbo slice at 1:30am followed by about 15 Chicken McNuggets a few hours later, a big pile of freshness was exactly what my body craved.
As another lil palate cleanser between the bread course and the main entrees, we got a cheese course. A cheese course which was suspiciously devoid of bread or crackers (uh…yeah we want more bread. Always). It was kind of bullshit given the price, but the cherry jam on the side was pretty tasty. Whatevs. I will forgive this transgression for the overall great meal.
And then the main courses – back on track! For the main course we ordered a pasta and a stuffed fish. The pasta was straight delish. It had honey and sausage and blueberries and pepper and fennel and whatever mizuna is. Super summery. Could not handle how well blueberries went with pasta. Added a subtle sweetness that was just so pleasant. I see you, Tail Up Goat. Dope recipe you got there. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more – not the most generous portion size, but I would still certainly order it again. The pasta looked like Creepy Crawlers, so that was fun. Speaking of which, just remembered there was a Creepy Crawlers cartoon show and had a few good chuckles. One of the characters was named Professor Googengrime. The End.
Our other entree was a porgy (aka a terrible name for a fish) stuffed with some kind of spicy rice mixture. We also ordered what was apparently the “small” version of the porgy. The big fish must have been truly enormous. And also dynamite. The fish was flaky and cooked to perfection. The rice concoction was spicy and rich. A great smorgasbord of rando chiles and onions on the side that added some extra freshness and flair. The only thing that didn’t go well were the giant leaves that accompanied the dish. They were awkward and really bitter. But then we discovered they made for a good burial material for the fish’s remains once we gutted it completely. We were so into the fish that I dug around the remains until I found what I thought was a hidden morsel of meat. It was actually just bones and fish sludge. That bite was no good, but overall very good experience with the sad-named fish.
By the time we were polishing of the last bits of the porgy, we were all pleasantly full and satisfied with our meal. We even opted to skip dessert (when we told our server that, she looked as if we had told her Christmas was cancelled). As we walked out, Becky pointed out the huge rack of lamb ribs and we all knew we’d have to come back again. Great food, service, and atmosphere earns Tail Up Goat a 3.75 out of 4 om noms.