4539 California Avenue
Hip Neighborhood Lounge and Restaurant
Wednesday July 9, 2008
5:30pm to 6:30pm
Keri & Eric joined by Kristie and Nolan
4:00pm to 6:00pm Mon-Fri
Alcohol: Signature Drinks $4.00 (Mai Tai and Alki Cruiser)
Beers - Manny’s Pale Ale $2.50/pint
Wine - $4.00/glass
Keri drank the Mai Tai – strong drink with great flavor, she liked it so much she had 2... or was it 3? Eric had the Alki Cruiser, too much of a lime-aid flavor, he switched to Mai Tai’s. Nolan had the Manny’s, which you can never go wrong with, and at $2.50 a pint, TOTALLY worth it. Kristie had a glass of the wine (can’t remember the name), which she liked enough to get a second glass.
Food: Loved their food options for Happy Hour! The menu is broken up into three categories: $4.00, $5.00 and $6.00. We sampled items from the $4.00 and $5.00 options, which included chicken satay ($4.00), sloppy joe sandwiches and spicy pulled pork sandwiches ($5.00), we also sampled a Caesar salad.
Chicken Satay: was our favorite selection for value and flavor…the chicken skewers were tasty, and the peanut sauce was really fun…if you don’t like peanut butter, probably ought to stay away from this one!
Spicy Pulled Pork Sandwich (SPPS): very “wet”, but had a tasty sauce with a nice kick to it…the pork was a little overdone, but overall, this sandwich was worth the $5.00 price.
Sloppy Joe: not as good as the SPPS…there was lots of “sloppy” to it, but the meat had the consistency of a meatloaf, which didn’t allow the meat to soak up any of the sauce…wouldn’t order again.
Both sandwiches came with either potato salad or coleslaw, so we sampled both.
Potato Salad: ok, the potatoes were undercooked, and there was no dill/vinegar flavor, there was some seasoning used that made the aftertaste a bit “off” but none of us could figure out what it was.
Coleslaw: oil-based, and not really “blendable” for the spicy sandwiches, as coleslaw is intended to be…it’s like serving Italian dressing with hot wings…they just don’t combine correctly.
Caesar Salad: While Kristie gave the salad a good review, she liked that they didn’t drench the salad with dressing, the lettuce was crisp and the salad had a good overall flavor. Nolan and Keri both sampled the croutons (which Kristie doesn’t eat), Nolan’s review of the croutons is: “these croutons take stale bread to an all new low, probably the worst croutons I’ve ever eaten”. We would have to agree with Nolan, they were truly awful.
When you walk in, you’re greeted by an old scoring machine from a bowling alley, and when you look up from the machine, you see a giant glittery crown, which was from an old Seattle hotel. The walls bring back memories of what the city used to be, with the help of pictures from decades past, when life was simpler and so was West Seattle. While the seats at the bar look cool…they are incredibly uncomfortable, especially if you are a woman gifted with hips…with a forward slant and no foot rest, both Kristie and Keri were struggling to keep from sliding off of the front of the stool.
The music seemed to be “alternative”, and during the height of business, was low enough to be background noise, so you didn’t have to yell to be heard. There are approximately 7 two person tables, 7 multi-person tables, and 20 bar stools, no outdoor seating. When we got there at 5:30 there was a crowd of about 12-15, during the peak (around 5:45), there were more than 30 people, ranging from families to singles in ages from 21 to 50 somethings. It’s pretty clear by the clientele that West 5 is a neighborhood favorite, there appeared to be quite a few regulars and it was a comfortable place to meet friends or bring kids. Our bartender was nice and as attentive as he could be, he wasn’t overly attentive and didn’t waste time with small talk, he was a busy man with a job to do!
There were 7 beers available on tap and the wall of spirits appeared to contain every possible alcohol you could imagine!
Bar Hooks: Yes
Foot Rail: No
Cost of Happiness: $31.00 (for Keri and Eric only) we saved $16.00 off the “regular” menu.
Overall rating (1-10 and personal thoughts):
I thought this place was great! I loved the vibe, I loved the drinks and the food/prices were reasonable enough to make this someplace I’d come back to again and again. As a matter of fact, I will probably see about changing my work schedule, so I can make it to happy hour a little earlier from now on! Except that I will be making sure to get a table, so I don’t feel like I’m sliding into the abyss! After our visit I went to the web-site and checked out the “about us” section…I think the local boys have nailed their vision for West 5 and I would like to see more food/drink establishments in West Seattle embrace the concept that IS West Seattle.
This “hip joint” was more bar then restaurant; just the way I like it. The place looks like the owners went around dumpster diving in order to decorate the place. After checking out the website, I found this sort of true. I do like nostalgia and thought the old school bowling scoring table was a nice touch. Most of the tables and bar seats were taken. It was a mixed crowd ranging from mid 20’s to mid 50’s. It was a cool laid back feel that you could hang out and meet some friends and throw a few back. I was looking forward to sampling some of the seven beers that were on tap. Then I found out that only Manny’s was part of Happy Hour. One beer? Sure it was only $2.50, but what is up with that? I don’t really even like Manny’s. Not that I wouldn’t drink it, but it is not my beer of choice. So I was forced to sample a mixed drink. They have two mixed drinks on special. Since Keri got the Mai Tai, I got the Alki Cruiser. I am a fan of gin so I was excited to try it. Let’s just say that I am still waiting to try the gin. I think the bartender forgot to put some in the drink. The drink tasted great, if it were non-alcoholic. It was a nice limeade drink; very refreshing. I tried the Mai Tai next and it was good. It was a nice fruity drink on a warm evening. I like the food selections that they have. A pretty wide range of choices and middle of the road prices, as far as Happy Hour goes. I wanted to try the crab cakes but I am glad I didn’t. The guy sitting next to me ordered them and they looked more like bread crumb cakes than crab. I was waiting for the old lady from the Wendy’s commercials to crawl out of her grave and yell “Where’s the crab?!”; but she didn’t. The sloppy joe and the pulled pork were impossible to eat like a sandwich. They were made for a fork. They were pretty generous. The sloppy joe reminded me a little of Taco Bell taco meat. It was poorly mixed and not much flavor going on. The pork was swimming in sauce. Luckily the sauce was tasty. That is an old trick to mask dried out pork. No on knows if the pork was good because there was too much sauce. I lived in Virginia for about ten years and know a thing or two about pulled pork sandwiches. They are often served with coleslaw. You put the cool creamy coleslaw on top of your sandwich to cut the spiciness of the pork. Similar to blue cheese dressing with Buffalo Wings. But this coleslaw was oil based and not mayo. Definitely the wrong type of slaw to put on your sandwich. The chicken satay was really good and the dipping sauce was yummy.
Nolan (Guest Blogger): 7
Overall, I was satisfied with the West 5 Happy Hour. They've got cheap Manny’s ($2.50) and a decent bbq pork sandwich. The bartender was knowledgeable and friendly. That should be enough to rate them an 8 or 9. I just can't do it though. There are just too many small things that drag down that rating. Manny’s is the only beer on special; the sloppy joe was like a boring chili served on bread; the caesar salad had the worst croutons served outside of a school cafeteria; the excellent selection of small batch bourbon was only for decoration since the hour wasn't happy enough to include them. Final Rating: 7. The cheap Mannys and sandwich allow for an excellent happy hour, but I just can’t go any higher.