Portobello mushroom fries, artisan sausage, lobster hot dogs: Happy hour menus have made great strides since the days of peanuts and french fries. It’s upscale eats at good prices.
At Elements’ Kitchen & Lounge, it’s also about discovery.
Whether it’s taking a well-known dish and adding a bit of the unfamiliar — think nachos with pork belly or garlic fries prepared with truffle oil — the restaurant and bar wants its customers to have an experience when they eat, owner and executive Chef Onil Chibás says.
“I wanted to make happy hour special and fun. The food has a twist, but it gives people what they want,” he adds.
The restaurant has expanded its new happy hour to include items off the regular menu. Included is a vegetarian-friendly polenta cake, which is topped with caponata and served with a romesco vinagrette, and Asian fish and chips — a Far East take on the British classic fried fish with a side of rice wine vinegar-Sriracha and miso-lime dipping sauces.
The creation of the new eats has also been a discovery process for Chibás and his chef de cuisine, Alberto Morales. The chefs, in an off-the-cuff creative session a day before the menu debuted, swapped ideas about adding elements to the dishes.
“I want happy hour to be like our dinner menu,” Chibás says. “Eclectic and evolving.”
The key to Elements’ happy hour success has been its “5 to 7” concept — $5 to $7 food and drink from 5 to 7 p.m. — and a focus on creating bites that go well with the bar’s drinks.
“Our bartenders are really craftsmen. They’re really chefs behind the bar,” Chibás says.
Happy hour drink favorites include Elements Gin & Tonic, gin and housemade tonic water served on the rocks, and the Widow Maker, housemade punch and malt liquor. But if a customer wants something off the menu, the bartenders can tailor drinks that fit around the happy hour price.
For those looking to satisfy their stomachs, a must-try on the food menu is the pork belly nachos — pork belly braised in chicken stock with a twist of orange, jalapeño, garlic and cumin. It’s served on a bed of pickled jalapeños, homemade cheese and corn tortillas.
These menu items are just a few of what’s to come for Elements. The restaurant will continue to expand and change up the restaurant’s happy hour food selections.
37 S. El Molino Ave.
$5-7 happy hour menu
5-7 p.m. daily
Robert Simon and his wife Deborah had a restaurant running and operating in Napa, when they decided it was time to return to the place where everything started for them. They packed everything up and headed home for Pasadena to open a/k/a Bistro.
Try: Portobello Fries. The portobello fries are a true house specialty They are crispy, savory and perfectly fried — not too greasy — and will convert even the most cynical fried food nonbeliever into an adoring fan. We must advise extreme caution around the portobello fries and that delicious truffle aioli with which they are served. These things are seriously addicting. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
– Evelyn Barge and Jessica Donnellya/k/a Bistro
41 Hugus Alley
4:30-6:30 p.m. and 9-10 p.m. daily
—————————————–KINGS ROW GASTROPUB
Kings Row Gastropub, a combined vision of managing partner Rob Rice and Chef Thomas Jesse, is a place dedicated to re-inventing pub classics.
A clever happy hour menu featured items like Asian Duck Sliders, Tandori Chicken Pizza and ‘Merguez’ Sausage Corn Dogs. From first read, you can tell that extraordinary love and care has been put into the menu.
Try: White Chocolate Mac ‘n Cheese. Served in a crusty sourdough bread bowl or a traditional crock, the subtle sweetness of the chocolate marries perfectly with the saltiness of the bacon and truffle as this dish comes together in your mouth. The combination of gouda, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses finish the mac ‘n cheese experience in style.
Also try: Oxtail Osso Bucco. This entrée is simply served with buttermilk mashers, bourguignon sauce and garnished with cippolini onions.
– Michelle J. Mills and Michael DavisKings Row Gastropub
20 E. Colorado Blvd.
Happy Hour food: $5-$9, cocktails are $6 and beers are $3.
Happy Hour hours: 4-7 p.m. daily, plus 10 p.m-midnight Sunday-Wednesday and all day Tuesday.
The dishes served at Point 08 reflect the cocktails pretty well: a mixture of old and new, classics and dishes-of-the-moment. And in some cases, a bit of both.
Consider the stuffed fried green tomatoes. Fried green tomatoes are a venerable dish from the South. In this case, they’ve been tweaked in all sorts of curious ways. They’re coated with Japanese pank crust, and stuffed with burrata mozzarella. They come with a Green Goddess dressing made in-house.
Try: Lobster Corn Dog. The lobster corn dogs are another new take on an old dish, a mash-up of corn dogs and lobster rolls. There’s a baby spinach salad that’s sweet – as spinach salads often are – but this one is especially sweet, topped with chopped honeydew melon, candied walnuts and a dressing made with Chambord raspberry liqueur and balsamic vinegar.
Also try: Kobe beef sliders — The Kobe beef sliders are topped with caramelized onions, and a sauce of lemon, basil and bacon, along with bleu cheese and arugula, served on sweetish King’s Hawaiian bread. They are served with Tater Tots flavored with truffle oil on the side.
– Merrill Shindler
95 E. Green St
Happy Hour: Two-for-one Wednesday through Saturday from 6-8 p.m. and from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. Sunday is two-for-one all evening long.
RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE
You’ve worked hard all day, haven’t you? So treat yourself to a visit to Ruth’s Chris Steak House for its Monday through Friday $6 Sizzle, Swizzle and Swirl Happy Hour.
The menu’s appetizer-priced portions are appropriately appetizer-sized. However, two Sizzle selections, plus one of the several Swizzle and Swirl choices, puts the bill under $20 per person. It would be the perfect stop to make before seeing a weeknight performance at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Try: Spicy Lobster. The spicy lobster dish featured good-sized chunks of lobster meat with just enough coating to be crispy and crunchy, lightly tossed in “spicy cream sauce.
Also try: Steak Sandwich with Fries. A lovely filet, pink in the middle, cut into tender, tender slices, laid along on a grilled roll with a little rich bearnaise sauce drizzled along the top.
– Linda Fields Gold
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
$6 Sizzle, Swizzle and Swirl Happy Hour:
369 E. Colorado Blvd.
5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
70 W. Green St.
Discounted drinks, appetizers, barbecue items, rice and dessert
All day Monday; 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 9 p.m.-last call Tuesday-Thursday; 10 p.m.-last call Friday and Saturday; 4 p.m.-last call Sunday
POP CHAMPAGNE & DESSERT BAR
33 E. Union St.
$3-8 food menu, $3-6 drinks
5-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
70 S. Raymond Ave.
Happy Hour lunch menu and drinks
Noon-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday
ROY’S HAWAIIAN FUSION CUISINE
641 E. Colorado Blvd.
Aloha Hour: Menu and bar items $5 in bar area
4:30-6:30 p.m. Sunday-Friday
VERTICAL WINE BISTRO
70 N. Raymond Ave.
$5-7 food menu and drinks
5-7 p.m. and 10 p.m.-midnight Tuesday-Thursday; 5-7 p.m. Friday – Saturday; All day Sunday
330 East Colorado Blvd.
Drinks and food, including half-priced pizzas and appetizers
3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 p.m.-close Sunday-Wednesday