Monday, October 22, 2012

Gracie's

729 SW 15th Avenue
Happy Hour: 2 - 6:30 and 9:30 - close

Gracie's is my new favorite restaurant. I haven't actually eaten dinner there, but I have sampled from the happy hour menu (in both the main restaurant and across the hall in the Driftwood Room) and the room service menu. I assume that since the happy hour menu is the same for both locations, they all share the same kitchen. And that kitchen is located on the main level of the Hotel deLuxe--the hotel that my husband (I can say that now) and I stayed at on our wedding night. The Hotel deLuxe is remarkable in every way and I hope to visit them again and again (perhaps every anniversary from now until forever).


We ended up at Gracie's for happy hour after our rehearsal dinner. I was going to be staying there that evening, so I thought it most convenient for me that we end the night at the hotel. The rest of the group made their way home following a bottle of wine and an order (or two) of fancy white cheddar fries by public transportation. (Lucky me, I only had to take the elevator up to the top floor.)


Gracie's--and the Driftwood Room--offer a bottle of wine for just twenty dollars during happy hour. They have both red and white available, but the wine itself changes now and then. The bottle we had was a Merlot that was both easy to drink and easy to share.


I had my eye set on a fancy champagne cocktail before there was any mention of ordering a bottle of wine to share. They offer all sorts of fancy champagne cocktails during happy hour for just six dollars each. And each cocktail is appropriately named to fit the motif of the entire hotel. Before sipping the Merlot, I finished a flute of Strawberry Fields.


Along with our drink selections, the five of us finished two (yes, two) cones of white cheddar french fries. The menu offers fries--your way--with plenty of topping options to meet the cravings of the whole crowd. Or, I suppose, you could enjoy them without all the extras. Sometimes just the salt is enough.

We were too full after the fries to make any additional selections from the food menu, but I know I'll be back. And I'll work my way through the menu. All of the menus. It is my new favorite restaurant after all. They've got great food at great prices, the most fantastic ambiance, and a sentimental connection that will bring me back year after year (if not more often).

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

-b

Gracie's on Urbanspoon

Red Star, revisited

503 SW Alder Street
Happy Hour: 4 - 8 PM, daily

Yes, I know. We've already been to Red Star for an official happy hour review. But they keep changing their food menu--and it's been awhile--so I figured it would be okay. It's okay, right?


We didn't have much to eat, though. Just a quick snack (so I'd have something to write about) and a drink. We were off to our rehearsal dinner but had just enough time to squeeze in a visit with out-of-town friends here for the wedding.

The happy hour menu at Red Star is constantly changing. It now includes a few more three dollar items, causing me to rethink my original rating on value. Good move, Red Star. Good move.


I ordered the Signature Red Star from the happy hour drink menu. It is regularly eight dollars, but down to just five during happy hour. I've had it before and love it. It's fairly sweet, though, and might not suit everyone's taste. Skipping the sugared rim might help to cut down on the sweetness if you want to give it a try. It's made with raspberry liqueur, vanilla vodka, and just the right amount of lemon and sweetness to make it as delicious as can be. I love the combination and will probably continue to order it again and again despite all of the other fabulous cocktail creations listed on their drink menu.


To cut the sweet (and have a bite to eat), we ordered a cone of french fries to share. They are the matchstick type and were covered with salt. They were also a bit addictive. Good thing we were planning to share or I could have finished the whole order on my own.

Service at the Red Star always impresses me. We've done dinner there, too, and they always seem to do whatever they can to make sure that the time spent in their establishment is enjoyable. Thank you, Red Star, for going above and beyond. And thank you for being one of the only steakhouses in Portland to offer decent vegetarian options on your dinner menu. That's reason enough for me to return, again and again.

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

-b


Red Star Tavern & Roast House

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Melt Bistro & Bar

716 NW 21st Avenue
Happy Hour: 2 PM - closing, every night


A happy hour that lasts all night, every night? How can that be? But it's true. And it gets even better. There are daily specials, too. Specials that include freebies. And I love freebies.


On Thursdays, the freebie is a deliciously buttery, perfectly salted, served-with-raspberry-mustard pretzel. And all you have to do is order a drink. There are limits, of course. Ordering a second drink will NOT get you an extra pretzel.


The pretzel was tasty, and buttery, and salty, but not nearly as delicious as the falafel sliders that I ordered. I was beyond excited to see a vegetarian slider option on Melt's menu. Rarely do I see veggie sliders available during happy hour and I can get so very jealous. Seriously, they are SO cute. These were adorable, a little spicy, had the perfect amount of crunch, and came with fresh pico to liven things up. There were two to the plate and they came at reasonable price of five dollars per order. If I had been there on Monday, however, they would have been just a dollar each. (Another reason to go back!)


To accompany the sliders, I ordered a Feta Stack Salad. It was everything you'd expect to find in a Greek salad, minus the lettuce. And--hence the name--it was STACKED. Such a nice presentation, I thought. And the ratio of crunch to salt was perfect. (The dressing also served as an excellent dipping sauce for the pretzel.)


Also at the table was a bubbling dish of macaroni and cheese. It looked fabulous with just enough bread crumb topping to give it a little crunch. Be safe, though, because that plate is HOT when it first hits the table.


I had a hard time deciding on a beverage when we first arrived. It's especially hard during the transition from summer to fall. (Mojitos are delicious...but even more so when it's hot out.) I narrowed my choices down to three and requested a little assistance from our server. In the end, I tried two of the three. (And when I go back for $1 sliders, I'll try the third.) The first was a Berry Press (made with house-infused vodka) and the second a Pink Berry Martini. Obviously, I was in a berry mood. They were both quite good, but the first had a little too much club soda and not enough soda soda. The second was sweeter, which was exactly what I needed.


I absolutely love the concept of Melt. Happy Hour is longer than long, the food menu offers plenty of choices, they give food away for FREE, and the drinks--the drinks include the most natural ingredients. It's nearly perfect. Parking might be the only issue. And it's really not all that bad.

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

-b


Melt

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Savoy Tavern

2500 SE Clinton
Happy Hour 4-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-close.
http://www.savoypdx.com/

Before we even started this Happy Hour blog, a bunch of us went to Savoy Tavern to try it out. We really liked the cheese curds, but we never went back for some reason.  A friend and I wanted to meet for Happy Hour on the east side, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit it.


Savoy offers outdoor seating, daily drink specials, discounted drinks at Happy Hour, and a variety of food options (some of them are a little higher-priced for Happy Hour, in my opinion). They even have bike parking--how very Portland!


So I can't quite put my finger on why neither of us were that excited about Happy Hour here. It has all the elements that a good Happy Hour requires, but we both left feeling sort of neutral about the whole experience.  We both liked our drinks (I got the $4 house white, and it was very nice), we both thought our food was good, and the server was friendly.


I ordered the mac and cheese ($6), and while it was good, it was not the best I have ever had (Davis Street Tavern still holds that title for me).


My friend ordered the veggie burger with a salad ($7.50), and she said it was a really good veggie burger. She opted for the salad instead of fries.


So overall we enjoyed our experience here, and I wouldn't be opposed to returning, but we weren't completely wowed. Maybe the problem was that we didn't order the cheese curds?

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

--E

Savoy Tavern on Urbanspoon