Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tomato Brothers

200 Bridge Street
Clarkston, Washington
Happy Hour: 4 - 6 PM, daily

It's official. I've lived in Portland for as long as I lived in Idaho. Eighteen years here, eighteen years there. I guess you can call me an Idagonian. Or maybe an Orehoan. No, not that. Either way, it's time to review one of my favorite restaurants from home. (It's technically in Washington, but only a few hundred yards from the border. Lewiston and Clarkston are side by side--if you didn't already know--and are separated only by the Snake River.) And this place is THE place I force my family to go to whenever I come to visit. (Well, one of two places...but the other one doesn't offer happy hour.)

Tomato Bros. has been around for a very long time. I must have been in junior high (maybe high school) when they first opened. They are one of many super successful and very well-known restaurants owned by the Happy Day Restaurant Corporation. Starting with one little fast food franchise in the late sixties, this corporation now owns five family-style sit-down restaurants and a few fast food spots--including what many consider to be the absolute BEST Taco Times in existence.

Outside of Portland, Happy Hour can sometimes be a bit of a disappointment. For some, Happy Hour is just one hour (which is NEVER long enough). There are places that don't even offer a discounted food menu. I've even learned that there are cities (states, I suppose) in which happy hour--or discounts on drinks, rather--is against the law. But Tomato Brothers has Happy Hour dialed in. It's got everything you need to call a Happy Hour top notch (except maybe discounted desserts...).

Happy Hour at Tomato Bros. is available daily from four to six. It's offered in the Tomato Lounge, but that doesn't mean you can't bring the whole family. They've sectioned the bar into an over 21 area and a family-friendly zone. (The tables in back are super tall, though...which for some people might cause an issue.) They've got discounts on food and drinks--including a $5 carafe of their house-made Sangria (yum!). We ordered a number of items, but I couldn't leave without having at least a few bites of my favorite dish--their baked spaghetti.

The hummus plate came with an abundance of toasted parmesan flatbread and a few veggie slices, plus some Kalamata olives. It's a HUGE platter--something you'll definitely want to share--and if there's any flatbread left over, we suggest saving it to accompany any leftover marinara you might come across.

I was more than impressed with the presentation of the Caprese Stack. Sure, it's a simple salad (and one that we have at home when it's too hot to cook and the garden overflows with tomatoes) but it's always fun to see how different restaurants put it together. The stack is great...but kabobs are fun, too.

With its mandarin jalapeno chutney and perfect grill marks (read: not too greasy), I was drawn to the quesadilla. Good thing I pulled the menu open to read its description before taking the first bite. It's a chicken quesadilla. Oops! I wasn't in charge of ordering this one. My parents sure enjoyed it, though...even my mom, who tends to avoid spicy stuff.

The favorite of the evening (besides the Sangria, of course) was the fried ravioli. The menu calls them toasted, but we all know that they were fried. That's what makes them so good. They've got just enough crunch and still ooze with cheese at first bite. It's a perfect little plate for a table of two (or three) but for the six of us, we could have used another order.

Service at Tomato Bros. is always pretty stellar, even in the lounge. They take good care of their employees there, who in turn take really good care of the customers. It's a Happy Day thing. They are pretty strict about some things--they limit the number of earrings you can wear and your nail polish has to be an approved color--but they offer quarterly bonuses for good grades (if you're still in high school), tuition reimbursement (for college students), and there's serious potential to move-up (if restaurant management is something you're interested in). They expect you to have a good attitude--which makes sense--and that makes dining in a Happy Day Restaurant a great experience.

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


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