Saturday, March 06, 2010

Tapalaya

28 NE 28th Avenue
Happy Hour: 4:30 - 6 PM, daily


This could easily be my new favorite place for happy hour. We do our best to try new places each time we go out...but, I have a feeling that we'll be back here again soon. The small plates are the best. They are the perfect size to allow for all sorts of flavors without spending too much or becoming too full. And, the small plates aren't just for happy hour. From open to close, you can get a great meal for a great price. The benefit at happy hour, of course, is that a select number of plates are on the menu at a discounted price AND you can get two dollar Martinis and three dollar Hurricanes.


I had never had a hurricane before and had to find out what was in it before ordering. Our server had quite the accent and I missed the first few ingredients while trying to decide where he was from. Although I still can't decide where he is from (but, I'm hoping that it is Louisiana - since that would fit the restaurant's theme the best) I do know that he listed dark rum, lime juice, some other citrus juices and a splash of grenadine. Having grown up on Shirley Temples, I've loved anything that comes with a splash of grenadine for quite some time. At just three dollars a piece during happy hour, I had to have two.

There were four of us at the table and I was sharing most of my small plates with my boyfriend. Okay, I was sharing all of my small plates...and, he had a po' boy to go with my sides. It worked out perfectly, though, because I was able to try so many things without becoming full. Don't get me wrong...it was filling enough that it became my dinner BUT I wasn't so full that I couldn't walk into the chocolate shop around the corner and pick up a special treat for dessert.


The first of the small plates was the sweet cornbread. I'm a fan of cornbread and have been for the majority of my life. Dry cornbread, however, has never been my favorite. And this cornbread was anything but dry. I couldn't quite decide if it was the cornbread that was sweet or if it was the butter. In the end, we decided that both had been sweetened with honey. SO good.


Following the sweet came the salty. And, not just salty and fried...but, salty, fried and a bit pickled. I've had fried pickles three times now and at three different locations. I'm still convinced that fried in the spear shape makes for a better batter to pickle ratio, but these pickle chips were extra tasty. The picture makes them look quite greasy...which, I'm sure that they were...but they were a great way to start the meal. (Or, at least keep the flavors changing.)


The next small plate to arrive (I'm not sure if the timing is intentional, but it seemed to work out perfectly for me) was the macaroni and cheese. It was baked in its small dish, giving me plenty of that crusty over-baked edge of the pan that I love so much when it comes to cheesy pasta dishes. Yum. I saved my last bite for this item (until I later decided that I needed to order more cornbread - at only two dollars, it made for a good start and end to the meal).


We also ordered a plate of the apple slaw. (This is the same slaw served on the pulled pork sandwich...a sandwich I will never eat...but one you can read about in the other Tapalaya post.) Such good flavor. Sometimes coleslaws can be a little overpowering. This one was not. It had great crunch and great color.

Altogether, the meal (which, now that it's written out seems to be quite HUGE) accompanied by two hurricanes was the perfect way to end a long and exhausting week at school. And, the service was fantastic. Other than having a fun accent, our server was speedy, efficient and really good at describing the specials (which, like usual, were full of meat and nothing I would ever try. I still like listening to all of the descriptions, though). He was quick to return with all of the small plates our table of four had ordered and didn't have any problems with our need to split the check three ways.


Food: Exceeds
Drinks: Exceeds
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Meets (there are even voodoo dolls in the bathroom, which doubles as a wine cellar?)
Value: Exceeds

-b

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