Escape Goat is a dim neighbourhood watering hole serving homemade bar food and exclusively hyper-local draft.
It’s not one of Toronto’s “escape rooms” as the name might suggest. Rather it’s a step back towards Not My Dog, a bar that took up residence here for many years, and away from its most recent incarnation as Mojito Cubano.
The space is still as narrow and slanted as ever, but the decor is back to being more rustic and dive-y in feel, with major work put in by co-owners Jeremy and Siobhan Shorts. Chalkboard menus list the day’s draft and eats.
Drew Fleming brings his experience slinging relaxed bar eats at Tall Boys to Escape Goat, making sauces, falafel and doing tons of pickling in house.
Deep-fried pickles ($6) are a tad on the anemic side presentation-wise but hey, it’s bar food, and the pickles are actually brined in house. More towards a half sour pickle, they’re beer battered using Beau’s lug tread and served with a zesty, creamy house ranch.
Cauliflower wings ($10) are a vegan spin on the dive bar classic, served with the same ranch. Quite sizeable florets of cauliflower are breaded and practically wading through a decently spicy traditional buffalo sauce. Prepare to get messy, vegans.
The burger ($12) is a dark horse here, made with AAA sirloin ground fresh for them daily at Cattlemen’s Butcher just down the road. Served on a classic and slightly sweet Ace brioche bun, the juicy patty is delightfully complemented by crispy potato sticks and a tomato jam.
A mountain of thin-cut fries on the side with some yummy garlic aioli completes the picture.
As many beers as possible here are from proper Toronto breweries like Rainhard, Shacklands, Rorschach, Muddy York, Bellwoods and Blood Brothers. I go for a Kapow! IPA from Rainhard ($7 for 14 ounces) and it’s opaque and hoppy but still pretty crushable for 6.5% ABV.
There are also Henderson and GLB cans ($5 - $6) available during my visit, with the promise of can specials. The aim here is to represent what’s local and family-run, and indeed microbreweries are so well-represented here it’s almost like a Toronto beer tasting room.
Pop in to see if they’re pouring anything from that obscure brewery out in the middle of nowhere you’ve been meaning to check out, and fuel up with a great burger while you’re at it.