Sunday, August 05, 2012

3 Doors Down Cafe

1429 SE 37th Avenue
Happy Hour: 5 - 9:30 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; 4 - 9 Sunday

It amazes me that we could go four summers straight without ever stepping foot inside this place. 3 Doors Down offers an amazing happy hour. It's only available four nights out of the week, but the hours are extended making this place an excellent option for a fancy dinner without the "fancy" price tag.

The happy hour menu at 3 Doors Down offers discounts on both food and drinks.  The drinks available at happy hour pricing include wine and beer but also martinis and Manhattans. Plus there's a rotating happy hour cocktail. I opted for a bottle of ginger ale but my fiance ended up with one of their specialties. It was similar to our usual (a vodka gimlet) but instead was made with cucumber and lemon. He actually ordered a regular vodka gimlet, but was presented with this instead. Upon realizing the mistake (and after my fiance took a sip to learn that it was quite good) our server gave it to him at the happy hour price.

We started with a plate of white bean dip and crusty bread. It's just three dollars during happy hour and our server was ready to refill the bread if needed. We've tried a lot of white bean dips while out lately (it's becoming quite common) and have had all different flavors (my favorite still being the Chimichurri Dip at Old Gold). This bean dip was good but reminded me of mashed potatoes. The consistency was super smooth and the flavors were so similar to what you'd see at Thanksgiving. I might be a little crazy (or maybe a lot) but I could totally see this as a high protein substitute. Even though it came with bread, I was fine eating it solo.

There were two salads to choose from on the menu. (One with bacon--but I'm sure it could have been left off.) We ordered one of each. The first pictured is the bibb lettuce salad. It was topped with chives and bacon and came with a cream garlic dressing. It was small, but the ingredients made it worth the four dollar price.

The wedge salad was a new experience for me. I've had plenty of wedge salads. I enjoy the toppings more than the lettuce itself. The crunch is good, but iceberg lettuce is a bit on the boring side. This was new (to me) because of the salad dressing. All the other wedge salads I've ever had were topped with blue cheese dressing...or at least a creamy dressing of some sort. This one was topped with Catalina dressing. I've never had Catalina salad dressing before. To me, it tasted like a really weak barbecue sauce. The amount of dressing--even more so because it was a new flavor for me--was a little too much. If I order this wedge again, I might ask for it to be on the side or I might request a substitution.

There were plenty of vegetarian options for me to choose from on the happy hour menu. Even the daily lasagna was something I could eat (for that day it was eggplant layered between lasagna noodles and an arugula pesto sauce). In the end, I went with what was suggested to me by our server. It was a plate of fettuccine (fresh fettuccine, which has now got me to think about making my own pasta), tossed with a truffle oil and covered in just the right amount of Parmesan cheese. I loved every bite.

My fiance ordered the tortiglioni with vodka sauce. I had looked at that too and was at first hoping that the sausage could be left out. Thankfully, our server informed us that the vodka sauce is simmered with the sausage and is not just thrown together upon being ordered. My fiance enjoyed the pasta and the sausage and felt that it was plenty of food. The only thing about the smaller portions that was disappointing is that there wasn't anything left to take home...meaning of course that there wouldn't be leftovers to take for lunch the next day (something that is so often a given when going out for Italian).

Service was a little slow...but I'm going with the excuse that it's because we were sitting outside. Sitting outside so often means that you are ready to sit and relax for an extended amount of time...not just rush through a meal. It's also about ten times harder to catch someone's eye to let them know that you need something (or that you are ready for your check) when they're not walking by you again and again. And since our server was only working the two sidewalk tables outside the bar area of the restaurant, he wasn't coming and going that often. I'm comfortable making excuses for him this time...and when I return for another heavily discounted mid-week meal I'll be sure to pay extra close attention to the service and maybe (just maybe) post a second time to let you know if things have changed.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets (sidewalk seating comes with the most fantastic people watching opportunity)
Value: Exceeds


3 Doors Down Cafe

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