Monday, March 21, 2011

Pause

5101 N Interstate Avenue
Happy Hour: 4 - 6 PM


Happy hour at Pause only applies to the drink menu. Happy hour at Pause also means that you'll be eating (and/or drinking) with plenty of small children running around. There are all kinds of neighborhood places that have adopted this same quality. In my neighborhood, it's Country Cat. Near Clinton, it's Sub Rosa. These places all have fantastic menus and excellent staff and the families living nearby have found them and fallen in love. They fill the tables during the early parts of the evening and the staff and owners have learned to work around the noise and possible fits. They are well-equipped with plenty of high chairs, booster seats and maybe even toys. And at Pause, your kids can even eat for free (assuming they're okay with noodles).


Although the drink discount was a tad disappointing, I quickly learned that the regular dinner menu includes a list of snacks. These snacks might sometimes be referred to as appetizers...but I saw them to be a happy hour menu available to all people, all the time. We opted to choose a few items off the list to share and to give this place an adequate (and fair) food rating. We started, however, with drinks.


I selected the Metropolitan from the top of the drink menu. Yes, I read more than one drink description...but after having a very tasty Cosmopolitan the night before, I wanted to compare. This one was much smaller and had more of a sour component to it. I'm not sure if it was the fresh squeezed lime to cranberry ratio or the difference in bartenders. I still drank it, happily. Although this happy hour included two-thirds of the seventh-grade math department, we did our best to avoid teacher talk (not counting the ratios including in bar tending). It is spring break, after all.

My friend (and fellow math nerd) ordered the Lemongrass Lime Kami Kazi. I had a sip, too. We decided it was a lot like limeade. If it were served in anything other than a martini glass, it might lead to trouble. (I can just imagine a pint glass, a straw, and a few too many shots of alcohol disappearing in a short amount of time.)


The food arrived in stages. First up were the brussel sprouts. This might have been the first time they've shown up on a happy hour menu since the start of the blog. I didn't grow up with brussel sprouts (because my mom did...and didn't want to inflict the same torture on her children) but have learned to enjoy them. I prefer them to be roasted, like most vegetables. These ones were good, but a bit too large to eat without potentially embarrassing myself with a too-big bite. My suggestion to the chef: serve them halved, instead. The presentation is more appealing (at least to the math nerds who enjoy the symmetry of the cross-section) and the bites are more easily consumed.


Next to hit the table was the hummus plate. It was served with a small salad, a pile of roasted red peppers, olives and a few bites of pickled cauliflower, some blocks of feta and several triangles of grilled naan. It was a good mix and could have easily been enough for a meal (if I hadn't already ordered more, expecting it to be smaller).


To accompany the official snacks, I ordered two veggie sliders while my friend ordered the baked mac and cheese. Mmmmm...mac and cheese. It was SO creamy and topped with the perfect amount of bread crumbs. I loved every bite.


The sliders were cute (as usual) but had an interesting flavor. They reminded me of stuffing. And they were soft like stuffing, too...making it one soft bite after the other while sinking my teeth through two teeny buns and the tiny patty. I'm not sure if things would have been different had I ordered the full-sized version off the menu...but I'm not sure I'll ever have the chance to try it out. From now on, it's mac and cheese for me.


Before we were through with dinner, we ordered a second round of drinks. This time, I went with the Collins and she had the Sidecar. The Collins was good, made with fresh sour mix, and topped with a cherry...but after one sip of the sidecar, I knew I had ordered wrong AGAIN. (So next time, it's mac and cheese AND a sidecar.) The sidecar is made with Tuaca, fresh orange juice and has a sugared rim. It had a hint of vanilla (which was probably from the Tuaca...but could have easily been infused into the sugar, too) that made it kinda like a melty orange julius. Yummy.


I probably won't be back for happy hour (since it barely amounts to much of a discount) but I know I'll be back for dinner. And I won't make any menu mistakes...from now on, it's just the mac and cheese and a sidecar for me.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b


Pause Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

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