All Primed Up for Happy Hour

If it is one thing we love, its happy hour. Cheap(er) drinks, food, small bites, early eating to avoid the crowd, what can be better? I had the day off Friday and Omar and I had big plans for fun and relaxation. We had our pool opening scheduled for what we thought was the early morning. We planned on hitting Ocean Prime’s happy hour early, enjoy some drinks and snacks and continue our evening somewhere else.

As what typically happens to the the best laid plans, is something always comes along to throw a monkey wrench in the works. Today was the pool guys showing up at 3:30. Although I have to say, they are always quick and efficient. They were on their way out the door at about 5 and so were we.

Ocean Prime has a nice happy hour, but just in their bar area (as most do). They have a lovely patio with couches and tables, but was a bit cold that day. They have an indoor lounge area, cozy, elegant, with a grand piano for entertainment. Today we had a young man playing guitar and singling classics like Bill Withers that seemed to old for his young soul, but was very enjoyable. He was very talented.

We enjoyed the music and ordered a couple drinks. A “Bubble and Berry” for me, and Omar ordered a classic Old Fashioned. The Bubble and Berry was muddled berries and fruit, champagne and a bit of dry ice for that smokey exotic fun. I expected a burst of sugary sweet syrup, but was pleasantly surprised for a delicious drink that was not too sweet at all. Our awesome waiter John, really recommenced a cucumber gimlet. I am not a fan of muddled cucumber so I passed. He was so sure I would like it, he brought me a small drink to try and I have to say, it was nice and light. A great pool side cocktail (mental note taken!)

Omar’s Old Fashioned was made perfect, in a nice high ball glass and a sphere cube of ice. So good in fact, I ordered one for my second beverage!!

Omar ordered the oysters (not on the happy hour menu) and Tuna Tartare. I was having a hard time deciding and John again said to try the lamb lollipops (best in the area). I am not a fan of lamb unless it is ground and mixed with many spices. I ordered the chop chop salad with a club dressing, and french onion soup.

Omar said the oysters although small, had nice flavor. But the Tuna Tartare was exceptional. Fresh tuna, atop a bed of avocado and soft noodles. My salad was really good and the dressing light. Kind of their play on a antipasto, it was hearty and really filling. The french onion soup was good, not great. The soup itself was a bit underwhelming and needed a punch of beef and onion flavor. Didn’t stop me from eating the whole bowl I should mention. And that darn John, awesome as he was brought out a lamb lollipop to prove how good they were. I must say even though not a fan, it was the least gamey lamb I had in a long time.

What a nice experience. The lounge is comfortable, and entertainment, food and drinks top notch. Was a bit pricey for happy hour I must say but we did order much of the food off the main dinner menu. Definitely worth going again. Especially on a nice summer night where we can enjoy the outdoor patio.

McCormick and Schmick’s Revisited

One of my first posts in 2015 was about McCormick and Schmick’s in Troy. I wasn’t too enamored with the place, and for the price did not feel like I had a worthy experience. You can read the previous review HERE. I recently have been going to McCormick and Schmick’s for a recurring business development group meeting. Although I am abstaining from eating during the meetings, the food ordered by others looked really good and the happy hour prices can’t be beat. The great appeal is that the happy hour menu is available all week – even on the weekends from 4-6:30. Saturday night we found ourselves looking for somewhere different to go, so we headed up to M&S. The happy hour menu is available anywhere in the bar area, and it is first come first serve. There are high top tables, low table or cozy booths for your dining pleasure. Happy hour is pretty busy. On a Saturday at like 5 p.m., the place was already jumping. We were lucky to grab a couple seats at the bar.

There were two bartenders that night, Ariana and Andrew. Although both took good care of us, Ariana had the better personality of the two. Andrew was a bit stoic for a bartender, and too serious for my taste. A very “get down to business” sort of guy. Now the happy hour menu is not super extensive as most happy hour menus are, but they had a large offering of drinks, which is unusual for happy hour.

I started the evening (and ended it too) with my new favorite drink. Tito’s and soda, with a splash of cranberry and a slice of lime. Omar stuck with his traditional Tanqueray martini, up, with three anchovy stuffed (gag) olives.

The food ranges from $3 snacks, like hummus or bruschetta, to $9 “bites” like shrimp cocktail. They have weekly specials like Tuesday’s Titos and Tacos (yumm!) Wednesday has $1 shrimp & suck with $1 oysters and shrimp and Thursday’s boast Oyster Rockefeller day just $2.50 each.

I think the best deals on the menu are the $5 fish tacos, or the $5 burger and fries. We ordered what seemed like a gluttonous amount of food. I ordered shrimp cocktail with the fish tacos, grilled, not fried. The “jumbo” shrimp cocktail was far from jumbo, more like “average” shrimp cocktail, but shrimp was fresh, and cocktail sauce full of horseradishy goodness. The fish tacos however, were spectacular. Fresh grilled fish (of unknown origin, most likely a whitefish or flounder) with a spicy jicama slaw, roasted corn salsa and a cilantro ranch sauce. The combination of flavors just explodes in your mouth.

Omar ordered the Spice Seared Ahi Tuna and a plate full of oysters. I am not a fan of raw, or even slightly seared fish, nor am I a fan of oysters. The Ahi Tuna had great flavors, with picked lip stick peppers adorning the plate and a yuzu aioli. (Yuzu is a Korean type of citrus fruit) but I simply just can’t get over the texture. Omar said the oysters were amazing. So much so, he ordered extra oysters and more Tuna! What began as a cheap happy hour jaunt turned into quite an expensive date, with the multiple drinks and food.

We did not order the burger and fries but sure wanted to. The burger was massive, looked juicy and the fries looked like my perfect fry. Not batter fried, skin on, and cooked perfectly. You can even order with drizzled truffle oil and Parmesan. I know the burgers looked good because everyone around us ordered one.

Long story short. the bar is a totally different atmosphere than the main restaurant. Relaxed, laid back, great prices, great food. Throw in some fun bartenders like our buddy Colin who is now at Eddie Vs and you have the makings of a perfect hangout. I know I suggested in 2015 that you stay away from this place, but I have changed my mind – just sit in the bar from 4:00-6:30!