Category Archives: Happy Hour

Back, for real this time!

So yeah, no excuses just life’s been busy between work, planning our wedding (June 23!), and everything else in between.

I’ve got all these pictures of food to post, so this will be more of a photo heavy blog. For once, you’ll get a less wordy post from me!

I was going to start with the worst food I ate in 2011, but since that restaurant is now closed, I’ll spare you.

So let’s get on to the good stuff!

Happy Hour at Dragonfish!

Gotta love Monday All Night happy hours as well as a place with a nice patio! While I don’t have a picture, I thought it’d be appropriate to mention I’ve tried the Tempura Peppered Bacon ($2.95 during HH). It’s definitely something a bacon lover should try once!

dragonfish_lychee_lemondrop

Lychee Drop ($3.95 during HH), I can almost never stop at just one! Boy, do those vodka infused lychees pack a punch! Sometimes you’ll even get TWO!

dragonfish_collins

The Lemongrass Collins (also $3.95 during HH), also delicious! I think I’d prefer it without the lemon soda, but I’m more of a gimlet girl that way! Also, a good summer drink even for the fiance (hence two in the photo).

dragonfish_spicytuna

The spicy tuna roll ($2.95 during HH) is delicious, but not that great a value compared to some other HH menu items.

dragonfish_crabcakes_tonkatsu

The thai crab cakes ($5.95 during HH) are definitely worth it, in my opinion, but I LOVE me some crab cakes. The tonkatsu ($3.95 during HH) was okay, not anything to write home about, particularly when I can have a lychee drop instead! 😉

While I don’t have pictures, on a more recent visit we tried the Lime Rickey shrimp ($4.95 during HH) as well as the Albacore tuna tataki ($5.95 during HH). The Lime Rickey shrimp are now a must whenever I go for HH. The tuna tataki was good (quite good portion of tuna) as well!

Dragonfish also does ‘Girls Night Out’ every Wednesday. From 6-9, they’ve got some good $5 drink specials and they raffle off prizes!

Ruth’s Chris Steak House Happy Hour (7 days a week, 3-6)

I’ve got 3 words. Prime. Rib. Sliders. They are probably one of my Top Ten happy hour items, EVER. They’ve also got well drinks for $5.50 (mid-shelf booze like Beefeater gin, smirnoff vodka). Full disclosure, last time I went at the end of March, they were good but not as great as they usually are. Also, their crab cakes are my mom’s favorite, they are delicious. I think the obsession with crab cakes is genetic.

ruthschris_primeribsliders

Happy Hour at Japonessa
I would be in trouble if Japonessa were closer to my apartment or office. Their Happy Hour (11:30 – 8:00pm in the bar EVERY DAY, plus until 6:30 in the restaurant, *and* Late Night) is one of my faves. Good value and good quality, what more can you ask for?

japonessa_booze

$5 house bubbly, $5 house white/red, $5 house hot sake, and $4 draft beers!

And now, on to the things that keep me coming back. I can’t decide whether the Super Bad Boy Roll ($6.50 during HH) or the takoyaki ($5 during HH) are my #1 reason for loving this joint.

japonessa_superbadboy

Behold, the Super Bad Boy Roll (eel, snow crab mix, avocado, cream cheese, tempura’d, topped w/ spicy seared crab, drizzled w/ chili aioli, soy glaze). Seriously, one of these and a miso soup ($1 during HH – chock full of mushrooms, seaweed, and tofu), and you’ve got an awesome dinner for under $10! If you like each of the things listed in the roll, it’s a MUST try.

japonessa_takoyaki

Nom nom nom. There are only two places in Seattle where I’ve had good takoyaki, this is one of them. If you’ve never tried the stuff and enjoy octopus, you need to order it! I won’t go into describing it, it must simply be experienced.

japonessa_spicyyellowtail

The spicy yellowtail roll is also an incredible tasty value at $4 during HH.

japonessa_veggie_tempura

The tempura is OK ($6 during HH), just when you’ve got the other items to pick from, it doesn’t even compare in terms of “things I crave” and bang for your buck.

japonessa_lychee_martini

And while not on the Happy Hour menu, their Lychee Martini is awesome. I have a weakness for Lychee cocktails, have you noticed?

That’s all for now. A short post coming later this week about a few of my more recent HH adventures to come!

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Review: El Gaucho Happy Hour

So we’ve been to El Gaucho’s Happy Hour three times, but the last two times I decided to take some pictures since I’d been wanting to write about it! The food below is from those two most recent times.

Just a little info on the Happy Hour before the visuals. HH is from 5pm-7pm Tues-Fri and 5pm-Close Sunday/Monday. Drink specials are okay with Full Sail IPA ($4), a red and a white wine ($5), and select cocktails ($6). The real deal about their happy hour is half off the bar food menu!

The 410 Burger ($9) never disappoints. The past two visits we’ve split the burger, the steamed clams, and the baby back ribs. They always cut the burger in half and split up the homemade taro chips, always a bonus in my book! The quality of the beef is outstanding (duh!), and they cook it perfectly (medium rare by default)! It’s one of the few burgers that I don’t think is better with bacon (Gasp!).

elgaucho_cheeseburger

The Steamed Clams ($7) were amazing on both visits, so sweet and juicy! The saffron broth is well seasoned and the fennel in it was delicious! And of course you’ve got to love the crostini/bread for sopping up the broth.

elgaucho_clams

And let’s not forget the Baby Back Ribs ($8). They are fall off the bone tender, and the BBQ sauce is out of this world! I really want to bottle it and take it home with me!

elgaucho_babybackribs

This last time the fiancee and I went, my sister met us before we headed over to The Big Picture to watch Horrible Bosses. So this time, we got to a try a few more items (we have a hard time deviating from the burger/ribs/clams combo)!

The Mixed Greens ($4.50) were good, but it could have used a bit more acidity. The sweetness of the apples and candied almonds overpowered the dijon vinaigrette. But for the price, it’s not a bad deal if you’re looking for a vegetarian or simply lighter option at the bar.

elgaucho_salad

I’d say if you were to go with the Macaroni & Cheese ($6), the Mixed Greens would be a great compliment and a great value ($10 for both). I usually find that even with exceptionally good Mac & Cheese, the pasta used is lackluster. However, with this dish the penne pasta was perfectly al dente and toothsome (in a good way). It stood its own up against the oodles of creamy cheddar (almost a sauce but thicker) and the crunchy panko bread crumbs on top. It’s moved its way into my Top 5 Mac & Cheeses!

elgaucho_macncheese

After eating at El Gaucho, we had about an hour before the movie so we headed across the street to Black Bottle for a drink. My Happy Hour app said they had happy hour going, but that turned out to not be the case. Since we were there, we ordered a round of drinks and some food. The cocktails my sister and I ordered were excellent, definitely drinks we’d order again! I went with the Rising Sun-rita (sake, blood orange puree, fresh lime), and my sister decided on the Doppelganger (pear vodka, passion fruit rum, OJ, cranberry juice). Both were fairly strong.

blackbottle_cocktails

For food, we tried the Prosciutto and Potato Wheels, not something I’d recommend. It had a balsamic glaze that really didn’t go well with the prosciutto. The rest of the food menu looks good though, so considering how tasty the cocktails were I’d like to give the food another go!

In summary, I highly recommend El Gaucho (check ’em out on Facebook and Twitter) if you’re looking for some high quality food at a decent price. For some tasty cocktails, I’d check out Black Bottle as well. Either (or both!) are perfect for when you’re going to catch a movie at The Big Picture!

Coming tomorrow or Thursday, Japonessa Happy Hour! And after that, I’ve got at least 2 more updates (Built Burger, Night Kitchen HH, and Dragonfish HH). Then, I’ll be caught up!

Review: .twist.

Last Tuesday, my friends and I gathered for our book club at .twist. Restaurant & Lounge. This was a great venue. I’d been here previously, but this was my first visit after they’d made some changes to the menu and to how everything was set up.

I decided it would be a great choice for my blog as the happy hour here is one of the better spots in Belltown with great food deals and good drink options. $3 house red or white and $2.50 Full Sail rotator? Yes, please! Also on happy hour are some great cocktails like the Pearl plum lemonade! They’ve got a few other Pearl vodka drinks on special as well as a few Belevedere drinks between $4-6! There are also some Don Julio and Hornitos cocktails – something for everyone!

I’d forgotten my camera that morning, but luckily Carmen always has hers on hand. So much thanks to her for taking the pictures! Also if any of you ladies have any comments on the dishes you had, please leave a comment! 🙂

We started out with an order of the deviled eggs and truffle fries to share. The truffle fries and deviled eggs were so tasty, we’d almost finished them both off before I’d remembered we needed a picture! The remainders of both are pictured below.

These were the best deviled eggs I’ve ever had! Even if you’re not a big fan of regular deviled eggs, you might enjoy these avocado filled eggs topped with creme fraiche, serrano chillies, and cumin sea salt!

deviled egg

I’d had fries from .twist. and Ventana before, which are good. The truffle fries are the same fries but topped with black truffle oil and truffle salt. These were incredible!

truffle fries

Christine had the balsamic and pepper glazed Carlton Farms pork spare ribs with pickled green strawberries, arugula, and cocoa nibs. This is a dish that’s also on the Ventana menu. The meat just falls right off the bone and melts in your mouth. The glaze is a great combination of sweet and savory. Christine wasn’t crazy about the pickled green strawberries, but I thought they were good. Mike also thought they were a little weird when we’d tried the dish at Ventana.

spare ribs

Jenny went with the fried pork tenderloin sandwich. She was quite pleased with her choice! I had a taste of the bacon on the sandwich, and it was mmm, mmm, good with an incredible rich, porky flavor! It was topped with pepper jack cheese and foie gras mustard. As with most of their sandwiches, it was accompanied with a side of rosemary fries.

fried pork tenderloin sandwich

Shannon went with the cobb salad. She said it was good as well. Just look at that crispy fried prosciutto!

cobb salad

Carmen had the Belltown burger, always a great choice also offered at Ventana. How can you go wrong with a smoked cheddar and bacon burger stuffed with a piquillo pepper and topped with a humboldt fog goat cheese vinaigrette?? The answer is you can’t!

twist burger

Silvie chose the truffle grilled cheese sandwich with a side of soup. I was really close to ordering this as well! I think I will on my next visit. She really enjoyed it. The soup of the day was cream of asparagus, which Silvie said was quite good!

twist grilled cheese

I went with the braised Painted Hills beef short rib slider topped with peppered bacon, arugula, and goat cheese vinaigrette. The flavors of the dish were awesome. However, the short ribs were overdone, so they were dry and burnt tasting on the outside. This totally detracted from the dish; I likely wouldn’t order it again.

short rib slider

Iris had the duck corn dog, a variation on the ventana haute dog. The first order that came out was cold on the inside. She told the server though, and they took care of things. The re-ordered corn dog was solid. Iris seemed quite satisfied!

duck corn dog

All in all, a great happy hour spot in Belltown and a good venue for our book club. Next time I go back, I think I’m going to try the Lobster Mac n’ Cheese made with orecchiette pasta, smoked cheddar cheese, and truffle salt or the Steak n’ Egg, which comes with baked fingerling potatoes, a fried quail egg, carrots, and a horseradish demi glace. I saw someone order the Steak n’ Egg at Ventana; it looked fantastic. I love me some quail eggs!

Happy hour at .twist. runs Sunday to Thursday 4-12, Friday and Saturday 4-8. You can’t really beat those hours, especially in Belltown! Check .twist. out on Facebook and twitter.

Review: Hard Rock Cafe

After running some errands downtown, the boyfriend and I decided to check out the Happy Hour at the Hard Rock Cafe since we’d had a good time at the Yelp Rock Star Elite Event we’d been to the week before. Happy Hour runs until 7PM Monday through Friday, so it’s a good choice if you can’t hit one of the earlier happy hours downtown. Draft beers are 50% off (under $3), Washington wines are $5, and I believe $3.50 wells. The starters menu is also 50% off during happy hour (except for the Jumbo Combo).

So to start things off, Mike went with a pint of Longhammer IPA. I chose the Maryhill pinot gris. I will say they pour a generous glass of wine for $5!

hardrock_hh_beer_wine

As we were quite hungry, we ordered three appetizers starting with the potato skins. Each item was around $5, ($10~ish non-happy hour price) so we wanted to make sure we got enough food. With happy hours, you never know if they will be full portions or ‘happy hour’ portions.

The potato skins were very tasty and were cooked just right. The bottoms of the skins were crispy but not overdone, and the potato itself wasn’t dried out. And the bacon on top was sweet and smokey! Combined with the melted cheese and green onions, it was one of the best potato skins I’ve had in a bar!

hardrock_potato_skins

Then came the hot wings, a bar food that often disappoints. For $5 during Happy Hour, you get 10 juicy, meaty Hickory Smoked Chicken Wings. We opted for the classic buffalo style this time to see what the ‘baseline’ chicken wing was like. Next time, we may branch out to the Heavy Metal or Tangy Bar-B-Que sauces!

I was quite impressed with the wings. They were each a decent size, and the chicken was moist and flavorful. The buffalo sauce was a great balance of spicy, vinegary, and salty. Oftentimes, I find hot wing sauce is too salty; but I quite enjoyed these wings!

hardrock_hot_wings

And to end things, we decided to try the Santa Fe Spring Rolls. I was expecting more of a thick egg roll wrapper as I’ve had this type of thing in the past, but I was pleasantly surprised when the dish came out. They actually use a thin spring roll wrapper, so the dish while fried wasn’t too heavy. The spring rolls were filled with spinach, black beans, cilantro, corn, jalapeños, diced red peppers and Jack cheese. I think the spinach in the rolls really added a creamy texture and a unique flavor that really made this quite an enjoyable dish. And another great deal at $5 during Happy Hour!

hardrock_santa_fe_spring_rolls

All in all, the Hard Rock Cafe happy hour is a good choice if you’re downtown looking for decent drinks and good bar food. The two bartenders we had serve us (Tony at the Yelp event, and Jeremy at the bar during HH) were both awesome, so the service is a plus as well! And in the summer, it’s even better if you snag a spot on the rooftop!

Check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Review: Toulouse Petit

While I didn’t make it out to Happy Hour this week, I did get a chance to enjoy breakfast at Toulouse Petit this morning. And since their entire breakfast menu is available at Happy Hour prices ($7 for most items) Monday – Friday from 9am – 11am, I’m counting this as my ‘happy hour’ review of the week. So you get a brunch/breakfast review and a happy hour review for the price of one!

My friend Lillian and I met at Toulouse Petit at about 10:30. It was a bit full, but we were seated within 10-15 minutes. Bigger groups will definitely have a longer wait on the weekends, but a small group of 2-4 shouldn’t have too long of a wait.

We kicked things off with some cocktails. Lillian ordered the mimosa, and I went with the Breakfast Flip (navan vanil, bakon vodka, irish cream, maple syrup) since I’d wanted to try a cocktail with Bakon Vodka! The drink was quite tasty, reminiscent of a white russian without the heaviness. I couldn’t really get much of a bacon flavor, but tasted more of the maple and vanilla flavors. All in all, a good drink to order in lieu of a white russian. All their breakfast cocktails are $6.95 before 7pm, so it’s a decent deal.

mimosa_breakfastflip

While I didn’t get it this time, the Madame Toulouse ’76 (Finlandia grapefruit, sparkling wine, peach puree, honey), a play on the classic French ’76, is another fantastic breakfast cocktail I’d definitely recommend. I’m not a grapefruit vodka fan, but the combination of ingredients really balances the grapefruit flavor.

After a good 10 minutes debating what to order from the impressive breakfast menu, the two of us finally made our choices. Lillian went with the Prime Rib Eye Steak and Eggs ($15, $10 during HH), while I decided on the Duck Confit Hash ($11, $7 during HH).

I had a bite of the Prime Rib Eye Steak, and it was fantastic. It was lightly seasoned, so the flavor of the steak really shined through. It was cooked medium rare and served with potatoes, arugula atop the steak, and two eggs (she ordered them sunny side up). Definitely a good choice for those who enjoy steak & eggs for breakfast! As you can see, it was a hearty portion of steak!

steak_and_eggs

The Duck Confit Hash was definitely an excellent choice! It was in a Worcestershire type sauce that gave the dish just enough ‘bite’ as not to overpower the other flavors. I ordered my 2 eggs poached, which was (in my opinion) the way to go for this one! Each bite had a bit of the egg white, yolk, duck confit and either a potato, parsnip or piece of asparagus! It was also topped with arugula, which wilted just enough. It was a great accent to the dish! I have no complaints about this one. My only regret was that I didn’t have a piece of toast to sop up the sauce!

duck_confit_hash

All in all, an excellent Sunday brunch! I’ll definitely be back – so many menu items I’ve simply got to try. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp.

Review: Issian Seattle

I figured I’d kick things off with a review of my favorite restaurant in Seattle, Issian. But this time, we made it to happy hour and stayed until close (9pm!). And before I begin, my apologies for the length! To be fair, we were there for 3 hours. It reminded me of going out to dinner in Seoul, no rushing just enjoying eating and the company of good friends.

First, I’ve got to say that their happy hour is a great deal. It runs everyday from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, with both food and drink specials.

The highlights are the $1 yakiton (kurobuta/black pig pork belly) and yakitori (chicken thigh) kushiyaki (skewers)! For that alone, it’s worth it. But then you’ve got 9 other happy hour food items ranging from $2-4 to round out the HH food menu. The drink menu will keep you going as well; with draft beer (including Sapporo), house red/white wine, and small house sake all only $2.80 each (large sake is $4.50). All bottled sake is half off, but that’s a story for another day!

We started ordering off the Happy Hour menu. The yakiton kushiyaki was a must, but we tried out the yakitori as well. Just a touch of black pepper and salt on the yakiton is all that’s needed to really bring out the awesome, rich, melt-in-your mouth flavor of the pork belly. And just a little tidbit, kurobuta/black/Berkshire pigs are much more delicious than their pink counterparts!

The yakitori had a sweet glaze that wasn’t too sweet or overpowering, but highlighted the dark chicken thigh meat.

We also gave the gyoza a whirl. While it wasn’t mind-blowing, the balance of pork and ginger flavors was quite good and the crunchy wrapper was cooked just right.

The agedashi tofu, however, was quite delicious. My boyfriend is not always a fan of tofu, but he really enjoyed this dish as the texture of the tofu was ‘firm enough’ for him. The tentsuyu broth was very good, and the tofu was fried to a perfect consistency!

We’d gone out with 2 friends of ours who enjoy Issian as much as we do, so we had to get the JFC (Japanese Fried Chicken, aka karaage). The boneless lightly marinated chicken coated gently in flour is a must-have (along with those pork belly skewers). It’s hard not to order it every time!

Our friends left at this point in the meal. My boyfriend and I were still a bit hungry, so we decided to continue on. To be fair, I’d been to Issian a fair amount of times in the past few months while he had not. He was making up for lost time.

We dove right in, ordering the half omakase sashimi plate (2 slices each of 4 different fish of the chef’s choosing). For the price and the quality, I’ve not found a better place that Issian for sashimi. This time around, we were served (from left to right) yellowfin, seared albacore, octopus, and yellowtail. Each fish had great flavor and texture; and while I don’t always enjoy octopus, the octopus at Issian was cooked just enough (not too tough) and had incredible flavor.

While we were waiting for our sashimi to come out, the server brought us some tempura lotus root – a first for me. I’m not usually a fan of lotus root (often has a weird flavor and texture, in my opinion), but I did enjoy it tempura style!

And since it’d been so long, we went all out. We finished the meal ordering scallop sashimi, duck no robata yaki, and yaki onigiri.

The scallop sashimi took a while to come out, so the server brought us a seaweed salad, apologizing for the wait. The seaweed salad at Issian is more ‘Korean style’, with a sesame dressing as opposed to the ‘Japanese style’, which has more of a vinegar dressing. That being the case, it was delicious as I’m not too crazy about the Japanese style seaweed salad.

The scallop sashimi was worth the wait. It was extremely fresh and incredibly sweet. Issian is the first place I’d tried scallop sashimi (on my first visit), and if it’s on the fresh fish menu, I can’t resist ordering it! If you are a sashimi fan, then I highly suggest giving the scallop sashimi a try.

A little while after, the yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball) came out. This is another must-have in my book. So simple, but so delicious. Just a forewarning, it takes about 10-20 minutes to cook, so order it earlier rather than later. For me, it’s a perfect item toward the end of the meal. The rice ball is grilled on a wire rack, and the soy sauce brushed on the outside caramelizes as it cooks!

And to end things, we had the duck no robata yaki. This is probably one of my favorite duck dishes and one of my very favorite items on the Issian menu. Perfectly seared, sliced duck breast with the most amazing green onion sauce (green onion, boiled peanuts, and garlic) is placed atop a bed of mixed greens and balsamic vinegar. The juice from the duck mixes with the balsamic vinegar to form an awesome ‘dressing’ for the greens. The greens sit upon a puffed up rice cake, akin to the saifun noodles you find in Mongolian beef. And for $9.50, it’s a steal!

Throughout the meal, we had a few large sakes. This is one of the few places where the house hot sake is quite good and doesn’t make you want to reach for a drink of water after each sip! And you get to choose your own sake cup, which is a fun plus.

To sum it up: Issian is a great place to enjoy an affordable meal of delicious sashimi/sushi, authentic casual Japanese cuisine, and sake. Go during happy hour to get even more bang for your buck!

And since we didn’t have room for the Maguro no Kama (tuna collar) this time, you can bet I’ll be back with another review of Issian.

Check them out on Yelp and Facebook!