Friday Night at Pasadena Happy Hour Week
By: Wendy Castellanos-Wolf
March 26th, 2013
Rain does not stop a woman on a happy hour mission, even in Los Angeles. Our friend from out of town came to visit and I had to make certain that he did not go home without experiencing a yearly tradition that takes place in the city of roses, Pasadena Happy Hour Week. Armed with my list of possible places to pass the happiest of Friday night hours, we braved the elements and drove east towards the San Gabriel Valley, past Suicide Bridge and through the madness of horrific motorist whom the rain had also not deterred from experiencing this epic event a long Colorado Blvd. in historic Old Town. This year, Happy Hour Week took place from March 1st through March 15th and had over 25 participating venues featuring extended happy hour schedules, special menus and live entertainment.
Famished, we walked over to Miller Alley in the drizzle and decided to start our happy hour adventure with a meal. I had read online that Sushi Roku was having a special on Appetizers, Rolls, Skewers and drinks so I proposed we start there. We were not aware that that had been everybody else’s plan as well and when the host took my name, she also asked for my phone number and told me that she would call me in about 45 minutes. On a carefree night when all is happy and half priced, the three of us shrugged it off and walked across the plaza, past a stage that brought back a memory from another happy night at Sushi Roku, one that consisted of that very same stage, inebriated unsolicited dancing and security escorts... But that is for another story.
The three of us ended up at A|K|A Bistro in Hugus Alley fifteen minutes early for Happy Hour. The manager seated us at the bar, introduced us to Meredith the bartender and said that we could start Happy Hour right away if we wanted to and of course, we did. I had never been to A|K|A Bistro before that fateful Friday night, but now that I have sampled their food on the Happy Hour menu, I will definitely be going back for dinner. That is one of the advantages of attending an event such as Happy Hour Week. It is a great way to discover new bars and restaurants without spending too much money doing it.
Meredith made a fantastic blood orange Cosmo that I daintily sipped out of a martini glass evoking my inner S.J.P. The boys first had beers and then switched to Margaritas made with fresh squeezed limes. Our fabulous drinks were on special for $5 each. Thirst quenched, we proceeded to order food. The three of us shared Crispy Portobello Fries served with an aioli dipping sauce which I thought was a creative alternative to French Fries. We also had a gigantic bowl of Mac & Cheese that we all agreed tasted delicate after the Portobello Fries, and finally, we ate platter of Ceasar Salad. Two grown men and a small woman with a very healthy appetite shared three items and walked away feeling like they had eaten dinner all for a total of $16. I am not lying. Most items on A|K|A Bistro’s Happy Hour menu were priced between $5 and $12 and the portions were big enough to share.
Upon leaving A|K|A Bistro, I received a phone call from Sushi Roku letting me know that my table was ready. It was perfect timing and even though we were no longer famished, who is going to deny a reserved table? At Sushi Roku, we ordered a large sake and a Sapporo for $4 each and joked about the sake bombs of our former immature selves. We also continued our Happy Hour Week feast and indulged by ordering a couple of rolls and a mystery dish called Miso Eggplant Dengaku which turned out to be eggplant in a miso glaze and covered in sesame seeds. All of the food items we ordered were $5 each. (Awesome!)
The rain had stopped by the time we left Sushi Roku. I wish I could say that we continued our Happy Hour adventure, but stuffed and well hydrated, the three of us had to call it a night. So long, until next year Pasadena Happy Hour Week.
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