Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bollywood Theater

3010 SE Division & 2039 NE Alberta Street
Happy Hour Wishlist
www.bollywoodtheaterpdx.com



Bollywood Theater does not offer happy hour. There are no discounts if you show up for an early dinner. But the prices are low all of the time. And getting there before the normal dinner hour means avoiding a long line. That's savings in its own.


I'm not sure what took me so long to make it to Bollywood Theater. (Maybe because they don't offer an official happy hour?) When I finally did, however, I was so impressed that I went back for more within days. Two days, I think. Maybe three. It's just that good.


The menu at Bollywood Theatre is long and includes street food, small plates, Thali meals, and sides. The most expensive item--seafood, of course--is just $16.50. The majority of the plates are between six and eight bucks. During our first visit, we had the Pav Bhaji ($6.50), a Kati Roll ($8.50), and the Trio of Chutneys ($2.50). Since then, I've learned that both the Vada Pav ($3.25) and the Beets ($6) are a must with every visit.



Although I am still working to try every single vegetarian option on their menu, I am most impressed with the Kati Roll. Available with chicken, paneer cheese or beef, the Kati Roll is big enough to make into a meal but also easy enough to share if you want a little more variety. The flatbread is grilled perfectly and the extras--both pickled onion and green chutney--add flavor and crunch that work so well with the main ingredients.


Pav Bhaji--also known on the menu as "bread and vegetables"--is a small plate of potatoes, veggies, tomatoes and spices that have been cooked long enough to allow the flavors to work together and really make a statement. Served with buttered rolls that have been grilled just long enough to give them the structure they need to carry the veggies from plate to mouth (because the spoon is just for show), this simple dish is one that will leave a lasting impression.


The Trio of Chutneys is served with plenty of Pappadums and varies in flavor from sweet to spicy. You're likely to love one (if not all three) as a snack prior to the rest of your meal being ready or as an added accompaniment to the other plates.


There are a number of drinks available on the menu--including a Pimm's Cup, Gin and Tonic, Kabhi Kabhie (made with bacardi, campari, pineapple juice, a little biters and some fresh lime juice)--but I love their ginger lime soda so much that I've ordered it every time.


Like so many Portland establishments, this one requires you to order and pay before finding a seat AND help out in the end by bussing your own table. It might not be your favorite style of service, but it's not too difficult to navigate if you go in knowing what to expect.

Food: Exceeds
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets (I especially love the bathroom decor at the Division location.)
Value: Meets

-b

Bollywood Theater on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gold Dust Meridian

3267 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Happy Hour: 2 - 8 PM, daily
golddustmeridian.com

Happy Hour outside of Portland typically means a dollar off this, discounted fried straight-from-the-freezer foods, or maybe a free handful of salted bar nuts. In Portland, you can find real food--maybe not the same as the regular dinner menu and definitely served as a smaller portion--but real food, nonetheless. And at certain places you can even find enough offerings on the menu to fill up on veggies. (Not just garlic fries or a plate of mixed greens, but real veggies.)


At Gold Dust Meridian, their menu is SO long and so varied that it will please any patron, especially those who prefer a more balanced approach to snacking. It's a tiered menu--with prices starting at four dollars--and they've got everything from Deviled Eggs to Ceviche to Lemongrass Clams. All that AND happy hour runs from 2 until 8 PM every single day.

We were there on an afternoon that called for patio seating (almost a daily occurrence, lately) and enjoyed their Stuffed Mushrooms ($4), Garlic Green Beans ($5), and the Classic Mac ($5). Although the menu had changed since the last time I had been in, I was happy to see that the Garlic Green Beans were still available. They are delicious--a bit salty, but delicious--and a must if you are in for happy hour or not (they're on the regular menu, too).


The Garlic Green Beans are big enough to share (but good enough that you'll want a second plate). They are sautéed with a sweet gralicky soy sauce that will likely leave you licking the plate. (Maybe you aren't the type of person to make such a scene, but I'm certain you'll at least make some attempt to get more of that goodness into your mouth even after the beans have vanished.) It's just that good.


Stuffed Mushrooms are so often stuffed with crab (or some other meat I can't eat) that I rarely have them outside of my own kitchen. At Gold Dust Meridian, the stuffing is made of ricotta and breadcrumbs and whatever seasonings it takes to make them so delicious and that's it. No crab. No lobster. No seafood of any kind. They are served just five to a plate, which means--even at four dollars--there's a bit added to the price for the amount of work that goes into stuffing each one of those little mushroom caps.


Five bucks is just the base price for the Classic Mac. You can upgrade it for a dollar more to have added bacon, broccolini, or tomato. Obviously, I paid that higher price. The broccolini was good, as was the mac and cheese with its mix of aged cheddar, smoked gouda, and mozzarella, but the crumbs--which appeared to be smashed cheez-its or something of the sort--were just a bit too overpowering for me. Don't get me wrong. I still enjoyed the mac and cheese. And I LOVE cheez-its (enough to never ever buy them for fear of finishing the entire box on the way home from the grocery store). But the ratio of crumbs to creamy cheesy goodness was just not up to par.


Thankfully, I was able to wash down those crumbs with a tall glass of their Strawberry Blade. Made with Superfly Vodka, Strawberry Nectar, Lemonade, and Soda, this was a perfect summertime patio sipper. It was so good that I sipped my way through a second.

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

-b

Gold Dust Meridian on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 11, 2014

Wine Up on Wiliams

3037 N Williams Ave
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM, daily
www.wineuponwilliams.com

Wine Up on Williams offers all sorts of discounted specials and events. (And they seem to be constantly changing, so it's good to check their website before you head out.) The current lineup includes daily happy hour, Whiskey Wednesdays, discounts for the ladies on Thursday HERS-days, free wine tasting on Fridays, plus live music on both Friday and Saturday night (with no cover charge). And if you are quick enough, they're running a Living Social coupon that will save you even more cash.


If you don't mind the mystery, a glass of the house red (or white) is just five dollars during happy hour. (If you want something a little bit classier, those wines that are priced above $10 per glass come with a two-dollar discount during happy hour.) Draft beer is also discounted at just $5 per glass. They have six rotating beers on tap (plus a few others available by the bottle at an even better price). And if you've managed to walk into the wine bar with someone who just won't have it, they have a list of classic cocktails that--although they aren't included in the discount--aren't all that pricey considering the quality of the ingredients.





We sampled almost all of their snacks, including the house hazelnuts ($3), mixed olives ($3), and the truffled popcorn ($3), plus one of each of the bruschetta offerings ($1.50 each). It's a perfect spread if you are craving something salty. They do offer some sweet treats, if that's what you're in the mood for. Their bread pudding is said to be one of the best around.

Service was a little slow the day we were in, but it was obvious that there was some sort of special tasting going on behind the scenes. Next time, though, I might pick a bottle from the shelf so that I don't have to wait to order a second glass. (There's a corkage fee if you do, but the prices are still well below what you'd find in a typical restaurant.) And then I might get a second bottle (or even a third) to take home. They've got plenty to offer, that's for sure.

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

-b

WineUP On WIlliams on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 07, 2014

Rae's Lakeview Lounge

1900 NW 27th Avenue
Happy Hour: 2 - 6 PM, daily
raesportland.com


There's no lake at Rae's Lakeview Lounge. They are pretty clear about that on their website--like a disclaimer--but I want to know why. What's the story behind a lakeless lakeview restaurant? Is there something more to it or is this simply a conversation starter? A way to get people in the door? I am seriously curious. Please comment away, Rae.


We stopped in on Saturday for some early afternoon grazing. It's not easy finding happy hour in NW on a Saturday, but Rae's offers it...starting at two. They have happy hour daily (bonus points!) from two to six PM with a long list of discounted food items and a dollar off both wine and well drinks. Miller High Life is available by the bottle for a buck and if you are in the mood for a cocktail, they're really not that much more. The most expensive thing I found on the list of mixed drinks was just $8.50. In my opinion, that's fairly reasonable but--for extra bonus points--we'd love to see a discounted "cocktail of the day" make an appearance to Rae's happy hour offerings.



Icy pint-sized cocktails made the most sense on Saturday--as they will again today with temperatures in the upper eighties. Pictured are the Fizzy Lizzy--served by Lizzy, herself--and a Mojito Grande. The Fizzy Lizzy is a mix of cranberry, fresh lemon and lime, raspberry vodka, and soda. It's tart, but super drinkable.


The Mojito was one of the best I've had since my last trip to Mexico. The ingredients fit the norm, so I'm not sure what made it that much better than all the rest. Could have been the organic mint? Maybe it was just the right ratio? Perhaps it was all that muddling action? I guess I will never know. But at only $6.50 each, I'd be happy to try it again (and again) to see if the reasons behind the quality become that much more obvious.

As a part of our smorgasbord of snacks, we ordered the Almonds & Olives ($3), the Black & Tan Hummus ($4.50), some cheese waffles ($4.50), and a house-made black bean Veggie Burger ($5).


The Almonds & Olives were a perfect match of sweet and salt. It was almost too perfect as I kept going back for one more, and then another, and another...alternating between flavors with each bite.




Served with pita chips (not the ones from a bag) and thinly sliced cucumber, the Black & Tan hummus was a great pick for sharing. The cucumber was just a bit too thin for scooping purposes but worked well as a topper when--as etiquette suggests--I used my fork and knife to spread a little dip on each chip. The pita chips were good--and an excellent vessel for both the traditional chickpea hummus and the black bean version--but definitely not good for me.



Also not good for me was the plate of cheese waffles. I, however, could not resist the cheese-smothered waffle fries served with house-made ranch dressing. This is one of those dishes that is okay to order when you are planning to share, but dangerous--seriously, dangerous--if you are working to finish it all alone. They are just too good.



Made with black beans and barley, the house made veggie patty came dressed with spinach, thick slices of tomato, caramelized onions (that was my favorite part), mayo, and a slice of swiss cheese.

Despite the whole missing lake thing, I was super impressed with Rae's Lakeview Lounge. Service was good, the food both cheap and delicious, and the layout of the place is so inviting it makes me want to go back just to hang out. Next time--unless it's for one of their bottomless mimosa brunches--I will definitely make room for the Happy Hour Bread Pudding. I love discounted desserts!

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

-b


Rae's Lakeview Lounge on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Radar

3951 N Mississippi Avenue
Happy Hour: 5 - 7, Tuesday through Sunday
radarpdx.com

While we were still dating, my husband lived a block off of Mississippi Avenue. It was an amazing neighborhood to live in, but a spendy one, for sure. With enough willpower, I'm sure we could have stayed in every night. But there were so many restaurants and everything was within walking distance. It was just too hard to say no. We still head back to certain favorites now and then, but it had been quite awhile since I had really paid attention to the new spots that had opened up shop. Now, of course, it is my mission to get to every single one of them--or at least those with happy hour offerings--between now and the end of summer break.

Radar is one of those places that moved in after we moved out. I am pretty sure that there used to be a bike shop in that space. Either way, it's in a row of restaurants all scrunched together just south of Shaver. (It's a good row of favorites--Sidecar 11, Gravy, Moloko, plus Equinox just around the corner--so if Radar has a wait you can always make it your second stop.) They offer small plates Tuesday through Sunday starting at five, brunch on the weekends from ten to two, and happy hour for the first two hours they're open each night. The happy hour menu includes discounts on snacks as well as wine and at least one cocktail. It's a decent set up and might just be the perfect way to lead into a multi-course meal. Even without the discounts, the descriptions of some of the dinner items make it sound well-worth the price.


We stopped in last week for a drink, some snacks, and a impromptu conversation about ice. Ice is big when you are crafting fancy cocktails. They take it seriously. It's pretty fantastic. Fantastic enough that it makes me want to go back to try another round of cocktails just to see which style of ice each drink will be paired with. The coolest one isn't even pictured.





While we were still making decisions on food, our server dropped off a tiny ramekin piled high with roasted garbanzo beans. (I love a happy hour that includes complimentary snacking.) These had just the right amount of crunch and were covered in smoked paprika.


Although the Sope is usually served with skirt steak, I requested one without. Thankfully, our server recognized what that meant and came back quickly to warn me of the true ingredients in the masa cake. I was still able to enjoy the dish--and enjoy it, I did--with the substitution of a perfectly-sized tortilla round. I appreciated the accommodations immensely. If the Sope is as good as it was without the masa cake and the skirt steak (the main ingredients, mind you), I'm sure it will be a favorite to many.



The rest of the meal became a bit of a theme (unintentionally so, of course). The soup is not included in the happy hour listings, but at only four dollars per bowl it is perfectly priced. The soup that day was a creamy cauliflower soup, and although it was quite warm out, it sounded too good to pass up.


The favorite for everyone at the table, though, was the plate of cauliflower fritters. Served with bravas sauce, these lightly battered cauliflower bites had more favorable flavor than either one of us expected. They are most definitely something that I will order with each return visit.




With delicious food, quality crafted cocktails, and serious attention to detail, a visit to Radar--whether it be for happy hour not--is a must.

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

-b

Radar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 19, 2014

North Light

3746 N Mississippi Avenue
Happy Hour: 4 - 6 PM and 10 - midnight, daily
www.northlightpdx.com

First official happy hour outing of the summer and we have a keeper. An honest-to-goodness keeper. Put it on your list, people. This place has great food, delicious cocktails, and an amazing patio.

North Light opened on Mississippi Avenue just a couple of months ago. They open for dinner daily at four, offer brunch on the weekends, and have a long list of discounted items--both to eat and drink--during happy hour every day (yes, every day) between four and six and then again at ten. That's fairly promising. And so is the fact that this place is directly related to everyone's favorite Night Light on SE Clinton.


We showed up within minutes of opening, had our choice of seating, and started working our way through the menu. Well drinks are discounted by a dollar. Wine, too. And beer is down by fifty cents during happy hour. I opted for the daily happy hour cocktail (something my co-bloggers and I agree is a MUST at every establishment), priced at just five bucks. The deal of the day was made with house-infused vanilla vodka, a freshly made strawberry shrub (they are still in season), some fresh lemon juice, and--I'm guessing--just a splash of simple syrup. It was a perfect patio option. Super refreshing and nice and cool.


The cocktail menu--that's sadly not included in the discounts--had a number of tempting options as well. After narrowing down the choices, the Cannon Smoke made it to the top of the list. Made with black tea infused rum, fresh lime juice, and a dash of scotch, this cocktail didn't last long.


If there were more than just the two of us, we could have easily ordered every item on the food menu. Everything sounded so good. Having a limited amount of space (on the table and in our bellies), we went with the top three picks: the OTA tofu ($6), the chicken lollipops ($5), and the grilled cheese ($6).



The grilled cheese was made with their own pullman loaf--grilled to perfection--and had pockets of cheesy goodness throughout as the combination of cheese included fontina AND cheese curds. I've never had cheese curds on a sammy before. They worked perfectly. So much so that I'll probably be making an attempt to do the same at home. (And when it doesn't work out as well--because I'm not a professional and my bread is nowhere near as good--I'll know where to go.) The sandwich came with fries (or a salad for a dollar more). Although the weather wasn't really appropriate for it, what I really wanted--or rather, what the sandwich was calling for--was a bowl of tomato soup. Perhaps that will become one of the options come fall.



Of course I didn't try the Crispy Chicken Lollipops, but they were quite adorable--for chicken, that is--and seemed to be more than pleasing to the meat eater at the table. They come three to a plate and are topped with a Garlic Thyme Glaze. Like many of the appetizers (and even their macaroni and cheese), these were gluten free. (Sure, chicken is an obvious one...but mac and cheese. That was intentional. And something that many Portlanders are going to appreciate.)




I loved the combination of flavors that accompanied the OTA tofu. (We both did, in fact.) Two lightly fried triangles of locally made OTA tofu came perched above thick slices of roasted sweet potato and sautéed spinach flavored with a delicious soy mirin glaze. (The OTA tofu shows up on their regular dinner menu as well as the brunch menu. I'm definitely going to order the tofu and black bean breakfast chimichanga in the near future.)

Service was exceptional during our entire visit. We tend to ask a lot of questions--and sometimes make silly requests--and never did it seem like we were a bother. I'm anxious to get back there again--for both brunch and more time spent on that patio. It's perfect for Portland's summer and provides ample people watching opportunities (without requiring you to be right up against the hustle and bustle of Mississippi).

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

-b

North Light on Urbanspoon