Two of The Finest Words …
Happy hour. Aside from love you, are there two better words in the English language? I suppose you don’t need a specific hour to be happy, but there’s something about dropping into a bar or restaurant during happy hour and having a ball.
Everything just lends itself to it. Fellow workers off the job, wanting to have a good time, reduced drink and food prices. Fun, flirty conversation.. what’s not to like?
Oh sure, you can have the odd idiot drinking too much and getting too loud or handsy. Or an establishment trying to pawn off lousy food and bad drinks. But it’s real easy within the first half hour to suss if you’re getting conned and move on to a place that’s into good service with no yahoos.
While in town for the SOBE festival, I got to experience a great South Beach/ Miami happy hour scene. After checking into my hotel it was too late for happy hour, but couldn’t wait to reconnect with my friend, chef Peter Vauthy at his steak restaurant Red in South Beach. While I knew his rib eye was to die for, when he asked what I wanted, I couldn’t resist going the master sushi chef route, putting myself in his hands which was a fine choice when he told me he was featuring a pasta dish with black truffles. Sounded delicious to me and it was. A creamy, el dente pasta paired with black truffles that made the dish so rich and tasty. Paired with a nice house blend red wine – I was in heaven.
Anthony Bourdain mildly joked in one of his later books that he knew he was getting too jaded with fine dining when he was getting tired of shaved truffles at his meals. While I was just coming off the Napa Truffle fest, I can’t see myself ever getting tired of truffles. They’re just sooo good. Too bad they’re so darn expensive. But that’s the price of rarity.
Next night, between events at SOBE, came back to Red’s happy hour for their excellent calamari. While I love calamari, I’ve pretty much given up on ordering it, because it’s usually so badly done, way too greasy, salty and frozen awfulness. But no chance of that at Red. It was fresh, crunchy, spicy and tasty. Just a perfect happy hour snack before heading out for some SOBE events.
After SOBE wound up, had a few days to kill before my flight back to Napa, so I found myself dropping into an Irish pub on Washington Ave called the Playwright where I couldn’t have a better happy hour experience. A bunch of sports on the screens, old time rock n’ roll on the stereo, fun, helpful staff behind the bar, nice tasting Guinness and IPA’s. And best of all a cook in the back who obviously cared about what he was doing. There was really good crispy wings, with a separate cone of fresh cut, non-greasy fries. Best $25 bucks I ever spent.
Last day in town had a breakfast coffee with the National Hotel’s marketing gal, Nicole Whitaker, on Collins Ave who told me she loved going to Boulud Sud’s happy hour after work. I had a great meal at their SOBE dinner, so why not cross the bridge for their happy hour? A little more relaxed than the restaurant across the marble hall, the Boulud Sud bar was a different kind of fun. Got talking to a couple of high finance guys who had descended from the office tower above the restaurant on the different ways to select wine for clients, while having a couple of cocktails, banter with the bartender and some nice truffle fries. Fun times in South Beach/Miami!