7.29.2010

Mad Bull’s Tavern

14649 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
818.379.9511

www.madbullstavern.com
twitter.com/MadBullsTavern

Parking: Free lot behind the bar; Metered street parking, free after 6pm
Daily, 11am-7pm, $2 off all cocktails, glasses of wine, Bud Light, Blue Moon, Bass, Stella, PBR, Shock Top, & Windmer Hefe; $5 golden Cadillac margaritas; Half-Off all appetizers that will run you $4.50-$5.50

I’ve been in search of a good valley bar for a while. When my friends & I learned of a new bar on
the Ventura block, we couldn’t wait to check it out. Unfortunately, like other past valley happy hour experiences, there wasn’t much of a happy hour crowd to speak of at Mad Bull's Tavern. For some reason, it appears that most places in the valley don’t get happening until late night. At 6pm on a weekday, there were only 4 other people – one couple on the patio and one indoors. In this case, I didn’t mind too much since I was there to catch up with my friend Natalie and hear of her South Africa adventures at the World Cup.

Before we got down to catch up, cocktails were the first order of business. Our server Lauren was nice enough to help us choose from the lengthy cocktail menu. It was nice to be at a sports bar that pays as much attention to cocktails as they do beer. Natalie & I both selected the Mad Bull’s Margarita ($8), which was made with my favorite margarita ingredient – agave nectar.
For happy hour, all appetizers are half-off, and we were so hungry we were tempted to order all seven. We settled on three – mac & cheese, crispy calamari, & tuna tartar. It’s a good thing that we didn’t go overboard because three was just enough. The calamari & tuna tartar were good. One server even pointed out the spicy sauce on the side of the plate of the tuna tartar that we made sure to mop up. Our only wish was that the mac & cheese would be more settled in texture before being delivered. At first, we were turned off by how liquid it was, especially when dishing out to share, but by the time we were half way through it, it was fine. Next time, I would be sure to order the short rib tacos, which I saw other tables order as the place picked up.

By the time, we ordered our second cocktail, we were ready to try something new. Lauren suggested the El Caudillo & Tolstoy. For this round, Natalie decided on the El Caudillo and I decided on the Tolstoy. The Tolstoy cocktail was made with Tru Organic vodka, organic jasmine, & fresh lime. Natalie’s El Caudillo was made with Tru Organic Gin, lime juice, & muddled cucumber & mint, and I feel that you can never go wrong with a drink with mint. When our server checked in to see how we liked our choices, I told her that the Tolstoy was so delicious and that I felt as if I should be sipping it in a bubble bath.

I would have loved to try more of the specialty cocktails, but I had hit my limit. It was hard to resist when we got the 1 min. happy hour warning - always a plus in my book. By the time we were off cocktails and onto water, the crowd had definitely picked up. The only downfall – happy hour was over!

My friends have been pumping me about revisiting Mad Bull’s Tavern, and I have told them it is definitely worth another visit. A place with great cocktails, good food, & amazing service is always worth it to me. People of the valley & beyond – you must give this place a chance at happy hour!
-JG
Rating: 3.5 Martinis

Mad Bull's Tavern on Urbanspoon

UPDATE: The Happy Hour Tour has gotten lots of traffic from this review alone. It is only fair that I update it to let our readers know what’s up.

There are no longer specials on cocktails. Those delicious $8 cocktails mentioned in the review are now $10 during happy hour. I learned this when getting my bill on my 2nd happy hour visit.

The appetizer menu has expanded, but the short rib appetizer is no longer listed.

If you want to have a great happy hour experience, sit at the bar. On my 3rd visit (and back to happy hour priced wine), my three girlfriends & I encountered terrible table service. One of my friends had to refill her soda at the bar – twice!; another had to order a martini from the bar because our server barely checked on us and would not make eye contact with us. Whenever, our server returned, we let her know that we clearly went to the bar, and she didn’t even acknowledge how long we had been waiting with empty glasses in a half-full place.

On the upside, we closed our tab with her and gave cash tips to the busboy and bartenders who did treat us with good service. It was clear they weren’t to blame, especially when we saw our made drinks at the server station waiting for a pickup and our server was nowhere in site. Also worth noting, I spied the server from my first visit taking care of her tables and even pouted that we didn’t have her. After venting to the bartenders that we couldn’t remember the last time a server ignored us like that, we got drinks to ease the pain and we were promised that we’d always be taken care of if we sit there. Go for the drinks. Go for the food. And definitely go sit at the bar if you want to be guaranteed good service.

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