Friday, June 26, 2015

RingSide Grill

14021 NE Glisan Street
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 and 9 - close, daily

After a few short months of renovation, the RingSide Grill at Glendoveer Golf & Tennis Club is open and ready to impress the neighborhood. Like the golf course and remodeled clubhouse, everything is shiny and new. And like the greens, it seems as though they are woking hard to keep that pristine appearance going strong. The menu has changed quite a bit--as has the dining room, itself--but they've still got those trademark onion rings and a stellar happy hour spread.

Happy Hour is offered twice daily at the RingSide Grill. It includes discounts on food and drinks and is available in the bar and their garden patio (which is shaded and overlooks the golf course). The only thing missing is a bit more vegetarian fare. Luckily, the bar bites menu is available and if you're there late enough you can get something from the dinner menu, too. It's not as cheap, but maybe--just maybe--they'll consider adding something more than french fries to the list of happy hour discounts.

The food menu has tiered pricing starting at $2.95 and most drinks are just five bucks. I would definitely recommend checking out the regular cocktail menu, though, as the prices really aren't that outlandish and they've got a number of creative cocktails available on tap. (Speaking of things on tap: they now offer growler fills--both beer and wine, plus you can pick up one of their rotisserie chickens to go. It seems ideal for anyone who's spent their day on the golf course and is headed home to a hungry family.)

Sitting at a table with three meat eaters, we ordered pretty much everything. The steak bites were the big winner that night (and have been mentioned more than once since then) but the cheeseburger continues to be the best value. It's only $2.95 and comes with all the fixings.

I ordered the smoked portobello burger from the regular dinner menu (it was too hot for the grilled cheese & tomato soup combo available on the bar bites menu) and loved everything but the bun. Seriously, so many sandwiches are ruined with the too thick and too chewy qualities of even the best ciabatta roll. It's just too much bread for a burger. Any burger, it seems. The bread overpowers the other flavors and textures. Even as an open faced option (I ditched the top after the first few bites) the flavors of the mushroom and onions and everything else were masked by the big bread-y bun.

My disappointment in the portobello burger was saved by the onion rings (and the Thai Basil Collins--get one, they're good). I always eat too many...but really, who doesn't. They aren't on the happy hour menu--sad, I know--but are worth the full price every time.

Three things to watch out for on your next trip to the RingSide Grill: 1) Keep your eyes open pulling into that lot. That two-mile jogging path is heavily used by the people of East County and no one needs to get hurt. 2) The remodel included one REALLY big change. The men's and women's restrooms have switched spots. It's hard to break the routine. If you're a regular, you're likely to make a mistake. 3) Service is really good. Almost too good. You're likely to stay longer than anticipated, because everyone is so very nice.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Exceeds (that garden patio is key!)
Value: Meets


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Friday, June 05, 2015

BTU Brasserie

5846 NE Sandy Blvd
Happy Hour: 2 - 5 PM, Tuesday through Sunday

Sandy Boulevard is growing. It seems that every time I take that route I'm adding another restaurant to my list of happy hour musts. BTU Brasserie has been on that list for a while now, but the sidewalk seating and the summer sun finally got me there late last week.

BTU is a Chinese restaurant AND a brewery. (I'm sure that all restaurants would make their own beer if they had the space and the know how.) They are open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday (although with a later opening on the weekends). And happy hour is available all of the days they are open, making this a perfect spot for an early Sunday dinner (or a really late lunch because Sunday morning pancakes can be SO filling).

The happy hour menu includes a LONG list of food with a number of vegetarian options. We were expecting the portions to be smaller (it being happy hour and all) and might have ordered more than we really needed. Thankfully, they were willing to let us take what was left home (which is not always the case during happy hour).

I ordered the Copper Well Noodles, Smoked Tofu Bao, and the scallion pancake, while my husband enjoyed the Pork Potstickers, the Spicy Chicken Dumplings, and the Braised Pork Belly Bao.

The scallion pancake was the first to the table and would have probably been devoured in minutes if the other dishes weren't so quick to arrive. I went a little overboard with the sweet soy sauce (because it was that good) and loved the chewy, crispy, crunchy textures that the pancake had to offer. This dish is perfect for sharing and something that I would order again, even off of the regular dinner menu.

I haven't had a lot of experience with baos (they're usually stuffed with MEAT) and can't really compare the ones I tried at BTU with any others. I can say that the smokey qualities of the tofu were really only obvious when eaten on its own. That wasn't the case, however, for the meaty version consumed by my husband. He seemed to love every bite.

He also loved the potstickers and the dumplings. He mentioned that--despite their name--the spicy chicken dumplings could have been packed with a little more heat. He's got a pretty high tolerance, though. There's a chance that they are just spicy enough.

My FAVORITE dish was the big bowl of Copper Well Noodles. Available with either tofu or chicken, these wheat noodles are loaded with veggies--mostly peppers, but carrots and bean sprouts, too--and covered in a ginger-y sauce. I loved every bite (both that night and when eating the leftovers for lunch the next day) and will most definitely order this dish again. It's enough food that I'll probably order just this dish (and maybe the scallion pancake, if someone wants to share) next time I am in.

Pints of beer are discounted during happy hour ($3 down from $4.50) and they've got a few cleverly concocted house cocktails to choose from as well. The beer is made in-house and rotates seasonally. And like so many places around town, if you love what you're drinking you can get a growler to go.

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


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