Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pok Pok & Whiskey Soda Lounge

3226 SE Division

Pok Pok does not have an official happy hour. (At least not as far as I can tell.) But they do have good drinks and small plates...which is EXACTLY what most happy hours have. And so I decided that they needed to be included in the blog. (It's okay to break the rules every once in awhile, right?)

I'm not sure what led Pok Pok to its fame in the first place (besides the food, of course). I wish that I could say that I had been there before it got big. (Because it got REALLY big.) I assume that it only took one food review to make this place the top of everyone's "must try" list. By now, though, I'm guessing that it's been reviewed, pictured, or at least mentioned in hundreds of publications nationwide. It's that kind of place.

And it's grown to be so big that they actually had to move what used to be the adjoining Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street. Now instead of sitting at the bar to wait for your table, you can wait out the hour (or more) across the street. The Whiskey Soda Lounge opens for business at five and are happy to let you know when your table at Pok Pok is ready. They've got small plates (quite a few to choose from) and beverages, seating inside and out, and the place might just be enough if you are interested in the flavors of Pok Pok without the long waits.


What they don't have, though, is much to choose from if you are not a meat eater. Almost everything on the menu contains some sort of fish sauce or dried shrimp. I checked in with our server, though, and she was able to make a suggestion. I ended up with the deep fried green papaya salad (minus the dried shrimp). It had an interesting texture and came with a super yummy sauce. It wasn't something that I could have turned into dinner...but it was fun to share.


To drink I had the Rhubarb Blush. It was hot out and this sounded especially refreshing. It was made with gin, fresh lime and rhubarb bitters. It was not, however, the favorite at the table. Multiple glasses of the Mango Alexander were ordered during the short time we were there. I had one small sip and was completely impressed with the flavors. It's made with mango, fresh lime, coconut creme, and vodka. We all decided that this drink was the next to be recreated at home.

Next up is Pok Pok Noi or Ping or whatever else the Pok Pok people come up with. I wouldn't say that they are taking over...but it is nice to know that you can find one in almost every area of town.

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

Pok Pok & Whiskey Soda Lounge

Pour Wine Bar & Bistro

2755 NE Broadway Street
Happy Hour: 4:30 - 6:30

It's been a long time since I've spent SO little at happy hour. Honestly, I could have walked out with a five dollar tab that night. And that's almost unheard of. Pour has three dollar (mystery) pours--both red and white--for three dollars and snacks--just a few--for two. There's plenty to choose from (at reasonable prices) on the regular menu (desserts, too) but we decided to stick to the happy hour offerings.


I had a glass of red wine while my fiance tried the white. Both were heavy pours (which makes the three dollar price tag even more of a value) and both were quite pleasant. And since they were mystery pours, the server described the qualities of the wine as they were delivered. I like the idea of not knowing what's on its way to the table...but I did overhear that the couple across the way weren't as impressed. It wasn't a problem, though, as the server was able to find something more to their liking without much fuss.


The warmed olives added just enough salt to the table (without ruining our appetites for dinner). If we didn't already have dinner plans, I'm sure we could have found something to keep us there. They have plenty of food options and--although they aren't discounted during happy hour--they are all priced quite well. I think the most expensive thing was just eight dollars.

I know that I'll be back again someday for the fantastic prices but I'm also excited about the wine room. I love the idea of being able to search through the racks (with some knowledgeable person leading the way) to select the perfect bottle to share. How fun!

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

-b


Pour Wine Bar & Bistro

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Salvador Molly's

1573 SW Sunset Blvd
Happy Hour: 4 - 6 PM

Pirate food! Or at least that's what I've always called it. My first visit to Salvador Molly's was at the other location (that has since closed) on Belmont. I remember having very spicy mac and cheese. Very spicy, of course, according to my spice index. According to my spice index, what Salvador Molly's is really known for--the great balls of fire--would be COMPLETELY off the chart. There are five to a plate and if you (just you) finish the entire plate--along with the spicy sauce--you can get your picture up on the Wall of Flame. (You might also suffer from a spicy hangover the next day.) I will never make it on that wall. In fact, I wouldn't even make it on the cheesy poof wall--if they had one. Those things are spicy enough for me...and they are barely spicy.


Living within walking distance of the only Salvador Molly's left in town means that I am quickly getting to know the menu. I have my favorite dish so far...and a favorite drink. Until this past weekend, though, I hadn't ever been for happy hour. But I will definitely go again (for sure, because I live so close...but also because of the great deals they offer). Two dollar food items and three dollar drink specials. That's pretty fantastic. And it's not like there are just a couple of food items listed at that price...they are ALL two dollars.


I ordered the quinoa salad. It's served on a plate of black beans and has all kinds of flavors mixed in. With any quinoa salad, though, it's the texture that I love best. Plus, it's super fresh and makes me feel like I've just made a healthy choice (which doesn't always happen at happy hour).


My fiance had the pulled pork sliders. There were three to the plate and they were super cute, as all sliders are. No coleslaw, though. I guess for two dollars, you can't be too selective.


To share, we also had the fried apples. The menu said they used a tempura batter, but it didn't seem fluffy enough to be tempura to me. It was more cornmeal-y. And there was enough curry mixed in the batter that the apples were hardly even recognizable. I still like them, though. And the dipping sauce added an extra layer of flavors, making it a fun item to share (but not something I would want to select on its own if I were planning for happy hour to be my dinner).


The three dollar drink special of the day was a margarita. According to the regular drink menu, I was getting quite a savings (even more so, knowing that they make their own sour mix).

Service was pretty fantastic...although I'm almost surprised that some of the servers can keep up like they do in such cramped quarters. It's like a maze in there. It was also super hot (mid nineties outside...and something close to that inside, I'm sure). Very impressive, I say.

And then there's the decor. If you've never been to Salvador Molly's, be prepared to be distracted. There are SO many things to look at. Just from the pictures of the food, I'm sure you can see that almost every square inch is covered with something. There are maps and postcards and pictures and fantastic treasures from across the world.

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

-b

Salvador Molly's

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Daily Grill

750 SW Alder Street
Happy Hour: 4 - 7 PM, daily

Yes, it's in a hotel. But it's a Westin. That means something, right? After all of the traveling I did this past summer break, I'm starting to appreciate the amenities that a hotel restaurant has to offer. And this place has a lot to offer. They've got super comfy couches and chairs, iPads built into the bar, and everyone working there wears a smile.


Daily Grill offers happy hour pricing (on both food and drinks) from four to seven every single day. And it's not like some places where you can only get certain wines at a discount. They will drop the price by two dollars on any wine you want. For me, though, I was more interested in the $5.50 martinis.


Ordering a vodka Gimlet (especially at a discount) can sometimes lead to a bit of a surprise. I learned pretty early on to request it served up rather than over ice...but I'm not so sure that I can request exactly how it's made. (That might be overstepping just a bit.) So every once in a while when the vodka gimlet comes out to the table, it's a neon green color. And when it's a neon green color, that means that it was made with (most likely Rose's) sweetened lime juice. It's not bad...but it's not as good as when it is made in the more natural way (like, with limes). At Daily Grill, they make the good gimlets. And they make them at a discount. And that makes me happy.


The five of us went through a lot of food at happy hour but I wasn't able to get pictures of everything. (It's hard some days to get everyone at the table to stop and wait while I try to get the best picture possible.) We had sweet potato fries, hummus, wings, artichoke dip, more hummus (this time the trio of hummus from the regular bar menu) and more fries. oh, and the Side Kicks (which are the cutest little sliders ever.) All of it was tasty (at least all of it that I tasted), and all of it was at a fairly good price.


The hummus came served with flatbread, cucumber, and radishes. The happy hour serving is pretty small (compared to some places) but has great flavor. After the trio of hummus arrived, though, I decided that I liked the Kalamata olive hummus the best.


The sweet potato fries came with both ketchup and blue cheese dressing. And they were still hot when they made it to the table.


The spinach and artichoke dip was warmed, topped with an extra layer of melted Parmesan cheese, and come served with grilled crostini. And when we ran out of crostini and still had plenty of dip left, our server was happy to bring more.

The service at Daily Grill was probably the best I've had in a long time. She was beyond friendly, checked on us frequently (we were there for quite a while), and was ready to take one last order just minutes before the discounts during happy hour ended. (That's always a good sign.)

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

-b

Daily Grill