Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brix Tavern

1338 NW Hoyt
Happy Hour 3-6, 9:30-12:30, and all day Monday
www.brixtavern.com

There were both good things and bad things about Brix Tavern. The absolute BEST thing was the smoked cheddar fries with bacon ($3.95). These are AMAZING, and if my boyfriend wasn't so selfish he would have remembered that we were supposed to be sharing them (I got about three of them.) The calamari ($7.95) was also good (even though it's not really my thing--too fried, too chewy, too tentacle-y). The dipping sauces were all delicious. The Huckleberry Gimlet was great ($4).


Not so good? The Mango Martini ($4) was watery and uneven. The pizza ($8.95) needed more sauce and more cheese. The tavern salad ($3.95) was decent, but my balsamic vinaigrette was just oil mixed with vinegar, which I did not like at all. Not even a little bit.


The ambiance was interesting. It was really bright inside (I couldn't decide if I liked this or disliked it, but it made it easy to take photos), and there was a dart board and a pool table. It seemed like a mix between a fancy restaurant and a pub, so that was a little odd, but it could be fun. I felt like I might feel awkward playing because the games seem to be right in the middle of where people are dining.


I think since this is a new place they are still working out the kinks. We had to wait awhile in the beginning for service, but the server made up for it by apologizing many times and she also comped our drinks even though we did not make the slightest fuss. She was super nice and service was good after the initial wait.


I would definitely go back for the fries, and I would like to try the other cocktails--$4 for fancy cocktails at HH in the Pearl is a great deal. They also offer pot pies on the regular menu, and I have never tried a real pot pie before (just the TV dinner kind my mom used to make--and those were pretty amazing!)


Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

--E

Brix Tavern on Urbanspoon

Madison's Grill

1109 SE Madison
http://www.madisonsgrill.com/
Happy Hour 3-6 p.m daily, and 10 p.m.-close on weekends

Note: I forgot my camera AGAIN, so I apologize for the IPhone pictures. What kind of a blogger am I?


My boyfriend and I were going to try a Mexican restaurant for Happy Hour, but when we got there I realized I had already been there (and we also missed the turn). Right around the corner was Madison's Grill, which I realized had contacted us on Twitter a long time ago saying we should come try their Happy Hour! That kind of invitation makes me feel like a professional blogger, even though I CLEARLY am not, so I thought we should give it a try.


Madison's has a pretty extensive beer list with some unusual-sound beers as well as familiar ones. Beer is 75 cents off at HH, so I decided to try my old favorite, Hefeweizen. My boyfriend went with a beer from Walking Man Brewery in Hood River. Later on I had a $3.75 vodka tonic.


The food menu is divided into sections based on price. There were lots of items that sounded good. We were our usual greedy selves, and we decided to get four items to share. This works at some Happy Hours, but at Madison's you should probably stick to one each or share three. We had way too much food. The best of the lot was the $5 chicken nachos. I enjoyed the spicy shredded chicken and olives a lot. We didn't even finish half of it, though, because it was so big and we had so much to eat. My boyfriend enjoyed his wings at the time ($4), but then when we talked about it later on in the evening he said that he felt they weren't quite hot enough (temperature, not spice). I thought it was a pretty great value because it came with about nine wings. The fish and chips were good, and I especially liked the tartar sauce ($5). My least favorite were the tacos ($4), but they weren't bad either. Every item came with a different sort of dipping sauce, which I really liked.


The server was friendly and had the unusual facial hair that makes Portland so endearing. My boyfriend thought service was a little slow, but it was pretty busy there. There was also some sort of bachelorette thing happening in the upstairs area.

Another cool thing is that they offer "almost bottomless" Mimosas at brunch on the weekends. I don't know what that means, but I really want to come back and find out!

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

--E

Madison's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Another Look at E.A.T. (Eat. Art. Theater.) - CLOSED

850 NE 81st Avenue
Happy Hour 4 - 6 PM daily and 10 - 12 Friday and Saturday


This is my new favorite place. Or at least I want it to be my new favorite place. It's only a couple of blocks from my apartment, they have outdoor seating (and it's about time that we get to enjoy some sun), and they offer sizable well drinks for only three dollars during happy hour.

My boyfriend and I found it using the Urbanspoon app when we were in search of a new place for breakfast a few weeks ago. I was beyond surprised when it claimed that there was a breakfast place within a quarter of a mile. I had NO idea. It turns out that this place is on the main floor of Milepost 5. I've known about Milepost 5 for years as I drive by it so frequently, but I had no idea that they were planning to open a restaurant.

Milepost 5 calls itself a community for creatives and that's exactly what it is. They offer studios and lofts for rent or sale so that artists have an affordable space to both live and work. I learned on my last visit that they also have shops open from Wednesday through Sunday and that the whole place opens up to display new works of art on the first Friday of every month.


E.A.T. still has a fairly small menu but it's growing. They serve brunch daily, switch up the menu for lunch and dinner, offer discounts during happy hour, and have all sorts of house-made baked treats to tempt you. (I couldn't pass up a brownie after happy hour last Friday. Mmmmm.)


We were lucky to get there on a sunny Friday afternoon. (The clouds came in just as happy hour was ending.) There are just a few tables set up outside but plenty of space to sit inside. It's actually pretty huge in there...especially if you take into account the chapel pews. (They were planning to show a double feature in the "chapel" that very night...for just two dollars.)


After an all-day training, I was ready for a gin and tonic. Well drinks are just three dollars during happy hour and are served in Mason jars...making them larger than most.


We ordered a plate of garlic fries to share, but later I decided on some mac and cheese and a salad off of the happy hour menu. The garlic fries had a good amount of garlic on top but weren't too special. The house-made ranch, however, made up for it.


The salad was a mix of greens dressed with a vinaigrette. It had a few tomato wedges and some bulky house-made croutons. I usually don't do croutons but these were super yummy. This salad wasn't much, though, in comparison to the other one ordered at our table. (For three dollars, it made sense.) The salad special of the day was a bed of fresh baby spinach topped with sliced strawberries and pears and a light sprinkling of grated cheese.


Macaroni and cheese is one of the MOST typical happy hour food options (especially when you have to eliminate all of the meaty choices) but I still love it. It's one of those foods that I can't get too much of. Maybe if I were eating Kraft macaroni and cheese...but I haven't opened a box of the "cheesiest" since I was in college. The mac and cheese at E.A.T. is baked with a generous topping of breadcrumbs. It was a little too hot at first, but as soon as I let it cool off (it was testing my patience!) I was able to taste all of the yummy cheeses included in the sauce. So good!


Service at E.A.T. was pretty exceptional during both of our visits. It is one of those places that requires you to order at the bar...but only initially. After that, we had servers stopping by to check on us on a consistent basis.

Now that I've done breakfast and happy hour, I need to go back for dinner. And another happy hour. And maybe another one after that.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b

EAT: Eat Art Theater


EAT: EAT Art Theater on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 14, 2011

E.A.T. - CLOSED

850 NE 81st Ave.
Happy Hour 4-6 p.m. (they also have a late-night H.H.)
http://www.eatarttheater.com/

Milepost 5 is a collection of loft spaces on 82nd avenue. The idea is to form a community of artists who live and work in the space. E.A.T. (Eat Art Theater) recently opened up as part of the community, and it is a pretty cool place!


We arrived just after four on a Friday afternoon. Unfortunately for them, they were not very busy. This was nice for us, though, because we got lots of attention and great service. I ordered their Happy Hour microbrew ($3). They also had PBR, of course. Well drinks are $3 during Happy Hour,too, and margaritas were $1 off. The drinks all come in mason jars, which is a nice touch that gives me a homey feeling. Next time, I think I will have to try the mixed drinks, because the margaritas looked really good.


I also ordered the pulled pork sliders ($4), which were extra cute. The bun was a little heavy feeling for my taste (I like a light, airy bun), but the pork and cole slaw were both delicious. I also stole some of my friend's garlic fries ($3) with house-made ranch. These were good, but nothing spectacular. The salad and mac and cheese both looked delicious, but I didn't try either of them.


I really liked the outdoor seating area. There were plenty of seats, and it seemed like it would be great during the summer. They also have a theater area (I think it used to be a chapel), where they sometimes show movies.

Both of the people working here were very friendly and attentive. I paid just ten dollars plus tip for two drinks and a snack, and I would definitely come here again.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

--E

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Red Star Tavern and Roast House

503 SW Alder St
Happy Hour: 4 - 8 PM


I had never been to the Red Star Tavern before last weekend. It's a steak place, primarily, and so it makes complete sense that a vegetarian wouldn't put it high on the list of musts. But we were headed to a movie on Saturday night and wanted to go out beforehand. Not only is the Red Star in the perfect location for a night at the movies (we were headed to the theater inside Pioneer Place) but their happy hour lasts until 8 PM.


The bar was full when we first walked in and we were in need of a table for three. My guess is that this place stays pretty full for the four-hour happy hour (especially on Fridays and Saturdays). A table opened up within a couple of minutes and we were seated.

Service was pretty fantastic in the bar. It's situated in such a way that the servers can easily keep an eye on the table without hovering. Our server was back to check on us whenever it seemed necessary. And when ordering drinks, they were delivered within a minute or two. Fast, efficient, and friendly. So nice!


This place is perfect for martinis. They are CHEAP during happy hour, just five dollars. I started with a cosmopolitan but then discovered the Red Star Signature cocktail. It's bright red (which fits) and served with a sugar rim. Perfect for the ladies. (At least ladies like me who prefer sugary cocktails to beer. Yuck!) It's made with vanilla vodka and raspberry liqueur. Next time I'll totally skip the cosmo for this treat. It's probably chock-full of calories...but sometimes that's okay.


To eat, I started with a salad and the chickpea fritters. The salad was topped with a dry jack cheese and toasted hazelnuts (thanks for not using walnuts!) and was dressed with a grain mustard vinaigrette.


The chickpea fritters were the only veggie option (besides popcorn and olives) and something that I was curious about. They were light in texture and had a pleasing flavor but were very much a fried food. They were served with a harissa sauce that wasn't nearly as strong as I had expected. I think that the sauce could use some improvement.


For the meat eaters at the table, we also ordered a couple of plates of sliders, the bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers (made with real jalapeno and apparently hot, hot, HOT), and a plate of pork shoulder (which was served like any pulled pork but looked to be ultra tender).


We ended up staying in the bar longer than I had expected and so (along with that second drink) I ordered a plate of macaroni and cheese. It's not on the bar menu but when I spotted it at a neighboring table, I had to ask the server. It was gooey and yummy and everything that I always want in a baked mac and cheese.

We've been using the same system for "grading" all of these happy hours since starting the blog two summers ago. It's time for something new. Not different, though. Just an addition to the grading system. It's time to mention that special something that stands out about the place. Like extra credit. Maybe not every place will deserve extra credit, but the Red Star does. The Red Star Tavern and Roast House gets extra credit for having an extended happy hour. They serve discounted food and drinks from four to eight every night and I think that's fantastic.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b


Red Star Tavern & Roast House


Red Star Tavern & Roast House on Urbanspoon

Vintage Cocktail Lounge

7907 SE Stark
Happy Hour: 5 - 7 PM and 11 - close


The Montavilla Neighborhood is one of my absolute favorite neighborhoods in all of Portland. This is, partly, due to the fact that I live blocks from the epicenter. Credit is also due to the fact that this neighborhood has everything (bars, restaurants, a second-run movie theater, a farmer's market, and THE best coffee shop ever) but you can still easily find a parking spot and a place to sit.

The main business strip has been growing for the past few years. A few places have come and gone, but mostly it's growing. Vintage Cocktail Lounge is one of the newer bars on the block. There was a a wine bar in it's place not too long ago, but it didn't last nearly as long as I had hoped. This was my third stop at Vintage since they opened but my first time getting there in time for happy hour.

The place was fairly packed when we first walked in and so we quickly took a seat at the bar. Maybe it was just that night, but I kind of think that this place might have quickly become the "go to" for ladies night out. And all the ladies were drinking martinis. Okay, a few had wine...but this place is known for its martinis, so it would only make sense.


One of the standout martinis on the Vintage menu is the lavender cocktail. If only the description didn't remind me of those little white candies I ate so many of during junior high and high school. I opted for a vodka gimlet and I'm glad I did. It was good and all, yes, but it was the value that made it worth the order. You see, they have a gin gimlet (with fresh lime and some agave nectar) listed on the menu for nine bucks (with an extra dollar off during happy hour) and MY order--which was basically the same drink--was just six dollars. Sometimes ordering something that's not listed on the menu is a better deal.

Value is something that is super important to me. And spending nine dollars on a drink isn't something that I usually do. Especially when I can very easily see that these martinis are served in small glasses. There are a lot of great flavors and a lot of attention paid to the presentation (my boyfriend's drink had a piece of burnt orange peel in it...and the bartender lit it on fire right there in front of us) but the prices are still a bit steep, in my opinion. (And the prices on the website are not all the same as what you'll see in the place today. They are in need of an update, big time.)



One thing that did seem worth the price was the happy hour food special. They have four different pizzetas available during happy hour for just five dollars each. We ordered two, one with olives and one with sun-dried tomatoes. They weren't quite enough to make a meal (and were nothing compared to the pizza available across the street at Flying Pie Pizzeria) but they had good flavor.


I feel like this place has a lot to offer. I also feel that they might be trying a little too hard...but not in all areas of the business. So much effort has gone into the cocktail menu and into the presentation of each drink...but the service is slow, you have to order at the bar (despite the classy appearance) and the decor didn't change much from when it was the wine bar. It's a great spot in the neighborhood and I can see myself stopping by for a drink or two...but moving on to another place before the night's over (and before I've spent too much).

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Nearly Meets
Ambiance: Nearly Meets
Value: Nearly Meets

-b



Vintage Cocktail Lounge

Vintage Cocktail Lounge