Thursday, July 22, 2010


No830 N Shaver
Happy Hour: Tuesday - Friday, 4 - 6 PM

My boyfriend recently moved into the Mississippi neighborhood. He's been there for a couple of months now...and during that time, we've walked from Fremont to Skidmore a dozen or so times, checking the menus posted on windows and doors along the way. We walked by the main gate to Equinox a few weeks back and when I spotted the happy hour menu, I knew that this was a place we should review (and, soon).

Equinox has a beautiful courtyard-esque patio for summer dining. We got there just as they were opening and were able to get a table that was still half covered by the sun. (A request of mine that I quickly regretted.) Within the hour, the sun had moved past the neighboring building and was no longer an issue. It was still warm and beautiful, but we no longer needed to shade our eyes from the sun's rays.

The happy hour menu at Equinox is two sided. The drink specials, on the back, include beer, wine and well drinks at a discounted price but also specialty cocktails for only $4.50 each. As we were there for a good portion of the afternoon (and I knew I'd be walking back to the house), I was able to try three different cocktails. One of them was shared a bit by others at the table...but, I was able to get enough of a taste to include it in this review.

I started with the French Kiss. It was a little too sweet for some people, but something that I could easily finish. Served in a martini glass, the French Kiss is a mix of vodka, strawberry puree and fresh lemon juice. I'm assuming that the strawberries were fresh (as it's the end of the season and the Equinox website boasts the use of local ingredients) and that added to the sweetness of the drink. I also had a No Po Manhattan. Whiskey is not something that I usually order on my own (I actually didn't order it today, either, but was traded for my "better" choice) but have tasted many times. It's a favorite of my boyfriend's and every time he orders something that sounds the least bit appealing, I take a sip or two. I figure it's like red wine. I didn't like that at first and now it's like a staple in my house. The No Po Manhattan is a mix of cherry puree, vermouth and whiskey (obviously). I finished it...but, probably wouldn't order it again just because I'm not ready to drink more than two sips of whiskey at a time (yet!). My third drink (I think it was the low price and wide selection that convinced me it was okay to try a third drink) was a lime gimlet. As my boyfriend reminded me, this is the drink that they had so often in the book (and movie) Julie and Julia. It was good. A perfect lime treat, I think. And, since lime is my favorite citrus flavor, I think I'll start ordering these more often. (Perhaps I'll start a special gimlet review to see who makes the best one!)

Like with the drinks, I was able to taste many different food items. That happens when you go out to eat with your favorite people. You can reach across the table and take from their plates without much fuss. (It's also especially nice when they love you enough to order vegetarian items so that everything can be shared.) The Equinox Happy Hour menu has a lot to offer with prices ranging between two and six dollars. (Okay, $6.50 if you count the cheeseburger...but, I'd never order that.)

I started with an order of the Mushroom Crisps. The menu description didn't give me much of an idea as to what made these crispy. I get it now. And, looking at the picture, you will too. I've only had mushroom crisps at one other place...and they were nothing like these. They were good though, don't get me wrong. The Gorgonzola was a bit strong for some people but I enjoyed the bite that this cheese added. The accompanying sauce, however, wasn't really necessary. It was some sort of sweet chile ailoi...which to me just means flavored mayonnaise. And, mayonnaise on a hot day isn't that appealing.

After the crisps, we shared the Chick Pea Crepe, the Penne Rigate, and a plate of asparagus. The Chick Pea Crepe was my favorite item but didn't amount to too many bites when sharing. It was stuffed with (more) asparagus, basil and goat cheese. It was also topped with a mix of field greens making it difficult to get a good look at it in the picture. The Penne Rigate was tasty. It reminded me of a Puttanesca sauce without the capers. There were artichoke hearts and kalamata olives combined into a fresh tomato sauce. And, it was covered with cheese. Yum! My only concern (and it's something that really surprised me) was that the kalamata olives were not pitted. That's something I only expect when ordering olives. Plain olives. Biting into a pasta dish without some sort of disclaimer could potentially lead to a troublesome dining experience.

According to some of the reviews I've read about Equinox (and some that I've just heard word-of-mouth), service isn't their strong suit. I'm guessing that, like so many places, they had to make a few cutbacks in order to stay afloat. So, that means that they are understaffed. I can accept that. I wasn't in any hurry. The sun was out, the servers stopped by frequently to take drink orders and make sure we didn't need anything more...the only issue was the time it took for the food to be ready. But, it's summer break and I'm feeling beyond patient. I can wait.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Nearly Meets (they're doing their best...they just need more people to do it)
Ambiance: Exceeds
Value: Meets



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