Wednesday, July 4, 2012

FoodTrek: Happy (Hour) Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July! If you don't have a colorful incendiary device in one hand and a beer in the other -- you should be! It's that time of year yet again when we celebrate our liberation from the evil alien horde that blew up every significant building before Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum saved the day with an Apple laptop. I know this isn't really what Independence Day is truly about, but it's certainly what America is all about, in all its fractured glory. So let's celebrate in the best way we know how... it's Happy Hour.

The most awesome faux celebrity photo, ever - Photo of photo by Wasabi Prime
I've been collecting some happy hour experiences over the last month or so, and thought they would make for a good virtual bar crawl post for everyone's day off. I used to go out after work like clockwork, but these blessed breaks have become far and few between, which just means I treasure the "Me with Friends" time even more. I was glad to finally head over to Pomegranate Bistro's new(ish) Pom Bar, a cocktail lounge on the other side of the restaurant, if you're familiar with the place. It's in the most innocuous spot, right in a business park. The first time people track it down, they look at the entrance with skepticism. Just think of it like a food-speakeasy, minus a secret handshake.

Classy bar snacks and a bar with a clearly-marked agenda - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Pomegranate been a favorite of mine for breakfast, I love their chicken and waffles, as well as their chilaquiles, but now owner and chef Lisa Dupar has spun her culinary web around my after-work hours, and Pom Bar is on the Happy Hour Haunt list. Their happy hour starts and ends early - 3:30 to 5:30pm; I got stuck in traffic, so I missed the special pricing ($3-5 for beer/wine and house cocktails; $7 firebreads), but the regular bar pricing for food is perfectly reasonable, just a few dollars more without happy hour, especially if you're sharing food with a friend. Their firebread, which is basically a flatbread pizza, is perfect sharing food -- we had their take on the Hawaiian pizza, with ham and maple glazed pineapple, with a delicious mixture of melted cheese. It wasn't just mozzarella, it had a mix of other cheese, I want to say fontina or something with a nicely aged salty bite. Their maple bacon caramel popcorn gets serious Crave Points, as it's the perfect balance of sweet-salty-spicy and is wack-like-crack, it's so addictive. For cocktails, you can do wine and beer, but follow the menu and ask what the bartender likes; their drinks are seasonal, and they do fresh, herbal and fruit-forward drinks without slinging slushies. I can embrace my inner Girl Drink Drunk without sacrificing balanced flavor.

My new Meat and Cheese Mecca, Koral - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Several friends either work or live right in downtown Bellevue, so it's an easy meetup if I'm already driving through or done with an assignment and want to wait out traffic. I was glad to see Koral open up in the old Twisted Cork location, in the Hyatt building. The same folks behind Pearl opened Koral, so it's got a nice nod to some local Pacific Northwest goodies like their charcuterie platter sourced from Salumi and fried cheese curds from Beechers -- both bar snacks I enjoy with dangerous abandon. I also like the fact they have bone marrow on the bar menu. They saw the bones lengthwise, so it's easier to scrape out the fatty goodness, avoiding the familiar mishap of a bone marrow log popping out like an oily finger. I think serving it this way is one way to get more people introduced to the Cool Kid ingredient that should go on all bar menus, it goes so well with wine and beer. The food is hearty and crowd-friendly, the drinks are strong and sophisticate-manly. It's a happy hour that guys can appreciate, and I like it too, because their bar specials includes a Manhattan made with Buffalo Trace. This puts the happy in my hour. 

With a menu like that, you know Lecosho is Some Pig - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Speaking of cozy comforts, I want to wrap myself in the warm, cozy blanket that is Lecosho. Right in the heart of downtown Seattle, in the Harbor Steps, it's a little food gem that's truly delicious. It's not far from the Mister's office, so I met him downtown for a nice early dinner. We sat in the bar and just picked what looked good on the bar menu, a little bit of everything -- braised beef short ribs topped  with pickled beets, buttery spaetzle sprinkled with pecorino romano and their steamed clams piri piri. I just want a soup bowl of the chile-beer broth they use to cook the clams in, and a large loaf of bread to sop it up with. The clams are wonderful and delicate in the broth, but that cooking liquid is flavor city in all the right ways -- the beer was a good, hop-heavy brew, you could taste it through all the seasoning and the natural brine of the clams. It was a bright, sunny day, but the food was a simple, rustic bear-hug of food love. The thing that brought me back into a summer frame of mind was their Jack Rose, a cocktail with applejack, lime, pomegranate and grenadine -- maybe too sour for some, but it was perfect for me, I loved how bright and refreshing it was. Brock had a classic Sazerac, which went nicely with all the rich food.

Sazerac to finish off the day - Photo by Wasabi Prime
I look forward to sharing more Happy Hour Capers, laundry lists of not just places, but specific things I've had and enjoyed. We're all creatures of habit, and the nice thing about places around here is that for the most part, a lot of restaurants change their menus, so you wait a few months and it's like going to a new place. And more often than not, we cling to our favorites, and there's no shame in finding variations of that dish at different restaurants. So, stay tuned, me and my iPhone are collecting more bites and sips -- until then, enjoy your Independence from aliens/work/British colonial oppressors! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Commentary encouraged. Fresh baked cookies, super-encouraged. (hit the 'post comment' button twice, sometimes it's buggy)