Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Manhattan's & Beyond - My Favorite Hour of All

Consider, if you will, the humble happy hour. Believed to have gotten its roots in the navy, this tradition has long warmed my heart and fueled many a night of mayhem. All the same, when asked where to go, I usually can't come up with anything good. There are the outstanding ahi tuna eggrolls at Zelo, but that place is so expensive! There are the mini pot roast slides for super cheap at M&S Grille, but the drinks are expensive and last time I was there I nearly clocked the bartender. I could leave downtown - 2 for 1's at Leaning Tower? Figlio's for cheap wine and cheap sub-par food? Eh...
It must be that I'm over-doing it. I think what's going on with the happy hour is the same reason I have nothing to wear. There are too many options and none are new and shiney any more.
That's why I was so happy when J.Lo came to my sad little no-posting rescue and whisked me and Heather away to the new Manhattan's Restaurant & Bar where the old Zeno used to be (or the old Big City Bagels, if you're counting.) She'd been there on Friday night before the Gaffigan show; the service was outstanding and the food was excellent.
I only have a few quibbles, but I gotta tell ya, that happy hour menu is a fun little deal! Half price drinks, wine, beer and food specials. Because we have no self control, we ordered the calamari, mussels and the little sliders. I tried to find an acceptable wine, with Laura mocking my new Spanish wine prediliction. It was so obviously a conspiracy because the Temperanillo I received was tinny and green tasting. The calamari come with little shrimp battered and fried with a side of a delicious garlic aioli and a wretched cocktail sauce. Avoid the cocktail sauce at all costs and save any extra aoili, as Laur said, "You never know."
The calamari was cooked until tender, as were the lucious little shrimpies. I was really impressed that they were so good and not fishy or rubbery at all. The breading was a little bit too salty, but this is happy hour after all. They don't want anybody neglecting those drinks.
Now, the mussles, to me, were fishy. I had a couple that weren't properly cleaned and a beard resembling rotten Spanish Moss was so off putting that I didn't eat any more.
I ordered another drink - Mt. Gay Rum & Coke. The usual. The Coke tasted off, but that's something that I've experienced at a lot of restaurants. The beverage gun just needed to be cleaned. Meanwhile, we were lonley. Where did the waitress go? Later I would realize that the restaurant set up may have been part of the reason she was often hard to find. There was some sort of a show at the theater next door and the restaurant is split so that half their patrons are the in the bar and the other half are accross the hall in a room I'd never noticed before.
Heather ordered a decent glass of Cabernet - so I'd say that's the wine to go with in the future. It seems like so many restaurants around are all serving the same mediocre wine. It's really odd to see Jacob's Creek and Kanooga Hill every damn place I go - even Skinner's! If they serve me a glass for $5, I'm going to have a hard time ordering it for $12 a glass over at Ike's.
Eventually the four little sliders came and they did look like sliders. Flat, square little patties that were adorned with a chipotle-leek-aioli. I didn't notice any leek flavor, there was a faint whisp of smoke from the chipotle, but this was where the garlic hoarder in Laura came in handy. They...eh, they weren't all that great. I kind of regretted eating it right after I did and the onion strings were cold and inedible.
Over all, I've got to say, though, for the prices, in this nice of an atmosphere, Manhattan's Restaurant & Bar is a great place to grab a bite before the show or unwind after a crazy day of work and public whining.


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