Food aside, themes are a delicate balance in the restaurant business. On one hand there is the critical element of ambiance or “vibe.” Lively or relaxed? Casual or upscale? Modern or rustic? Whatever path is chosen will lead to categorization, not differentiation. To stand out positively in the filtered group, there must be an additional uniqueness factor that fits without being contrived. In this regard, a restaurant group in Fall River has figured out how to tip the scales in their favor.
The Tipsy Toboggan Fireside Pub is a little slice of ski or hunting lodge ironically located near the Fall River shoreline. Exposed brick walls, wood beam ceilings, carved bar stools and wall-mounted trophies set the scene. The first floor is laid out for socializing, dominated by a large central bar and benches circling a cozy wood-burning fireplace. The open-floor second level gives upstairs’ diners a view of the activity below, and an antler chandelier hangs in the middle. Even if for a brief moment, you might think you’re near the slopes instead of the city.
The Tipsy Toboggan is the younger sibling of the Tipsy Seagull Dockside Pub, located less than half a mile away in the Borden Light Marina. A great outdoor spot situated literally on the marina’s docks, you will instinctively question your ability to hold your alcohol every time you go. Don’t worry, it’s not the day you’ve become so old you can’t handle one drink – it’s the tide moving the docks that’s making you sway. Two pubs that effortlessly take you to another place – how many people have their winter and summer getaways so close together?
But it’s winter, so back to the Fireside Pub. The appetizer menu is full of standard pub fare like nachos and wings, which by the way makes Tipsy Toboggan a great place to watch your favorite game on the large flat-screen TVs. We began our meal with Fried Calamari ($10) accompanied by pepper rings and house-made marinara sauce. It was a relatively simple start, but we were intrigued that the menu actually advertised “rings and tentacles.” If they were going to highlight that oft-neglected detail, we had to oblige. Given the cold, we also had a round of hearty New England Clam Chowder ($6) but passed on the opportunity to step it up with a bread bowl. Adventurous folks might go for the Foot High Onion Rings ($6) – hand-cut and battered, fried until golden brown and stacked a foot high.
Our waitress mentioned the Base Lodge Burger ($12) with French fries as one of the most popular items, so we had to start there with our entrees. An 8 oz. certified Angus Beef patty topped with sharp cheddar, sautéed onions, bacon, lettuce and tomato was finished with chipotle aioli to give it a nice kick. We needed at least one dish that would not leave our waistline guilt-ridden for the rest of the day, and for that we went with the Salmon BLT Wrap ($12). Chunks of Cajun-rubbed Atlantic salmon wrapped with fresh tomato, crisp lettuce, crunchy bacon and a lemon garlic aioli gave us a nice reprieve before the grand finale – the Seafood Pizza ($16). Perhaps the most interesting thing on the menu (we all commented on it right away) is this version made with shrimp, scallop and lobster in a creamy lobster sherry sauce topped with a three-cheese blend. This dish gets high marks for its ambitious attempt. We didn’t have room for it, but my next visit will likely involve Mike’s Mac and Cheese ($12) – baked with a crispy top and optional toppings of seasonal vegetables, chicken or steak tips.
You won’t get bored at Tipsy Toboggan, as there are specials and events almost every night of the week. Merlot Mondays, Tequila Tuesdays and Whiskey Wednesdays will keep you lubricated, and Thursday’s M&M night is a steal – complimentary meatballs and $5 martinis. Prime rib is offered every Friday and Saturday night “while it lasts” along with live acoustic entertainment. There is something for everyone here, so the next time your companion says “ahhhh, not another pub”, take them to another place – take them to Tipsy Toboggan.
75 Ferry Street