Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy's Bar & Kitchen

It was about a month ago now, maybe longer, that I excitedly set foot into Michael Schlow's latest venture Happy's Bar and Kitchen for dinner with pals Megan and Lin. From the reputable chef behind upscale french cuisine and a killer burger at Radius in the Financial District, to Latin inspired small plates at Back Bay's Tico, (named one of Esquires best New Restaurants for 2011), comes a Fenway neighborhood spot serving the "greatest hits" or classic American comforts, with a distinctive flair.

In the airy urban space, graffiti splashed walls and subtle glistening chandeliers meet retro 50's decor including kitschy upholstered chairs and pressed tin ceilings. Place settings are clean and charming with vintage etched silverware and gauzy cloth napkins. The tone is more casual yet decidedly upbeat, compared that of its older siblings. 
We settled right in with some cocktails, a Strawberry Basil Margarita ($13) made with Hornitos Blanco, Contreau, agave and lime was refreshing, followed up by "M.B.'s" (must be the bartenders initials) rendition of a classic Aperol Spritz ($12)
To eat we decided on a number of plates from the appetizers menu; everything we sampled was skillfully executed and easily shareable. Tender Duck Tacos ($9) feel like a Tico inspired dish, and I'm glad a taco plate made the transition here. While the two tacos are tiny, the duck is exquisitely tender like the name implies, where a full buttery richness encompasses the small bite. Cucumber, cilantro, chilies and mint add welcome pops of flavor. 
With a name like The Greatest Wedge....Ever ($8.49) we couldn't pass up this version of blue cheese dressed lettuce, red onions, bacon and tomatoes. 

I've actually been on a wedge kick lately, and just had one that would give Happy's a run for the title! Nevertheless, it was still an acceptable version and the menu name sets a comical, playful tone. 
The Plate of Really Delicious Cured Meats with all the Garnishes ($10.49) is named in the same vain. But what can I say, those cured meets accompanied by dijon and spicy mustards, grilled bread and pickled vegetables were in fact, really delicious
We raved on about the fluffy, spreadable Homemade Ricotta ($8.29) which came drizzled in olive oil and dusted with red pepper flakes and sage. Thick slices of toasted bread are just right, golden brown and lightly crisp.
 When we saw a server whisk by with a cast iron skillet of Petra’s Super Mac n’ Cheese ($10) we knew an order would be headed for our table next. The visual appeal is one that delivers on taste as well, with the right accoutrements of bacon, peas, jalapenos and crunchy bread crumbs to boost the cheese drenched noodles. 
There is no dessert menu but I'd advise you save room. Our incredibly friendly and attentive waitress listed off from a number of choices that included a Strawberry Shortcake and Mascarporeos. The latter, we learned from the manager who popped over to say hello, were developed by Schlow years ago in the kitchen at Via Matta, when a chocolate shortbread cookie accidentally fell into a tub of mascarpone. 
 The sweet creamy cheese together with crunchy chocolate shell is a divine elevation on the classic sandwich cookie. They also produce an excellent Strawberry shortcake, the manager sent this out with his compliments after learning we only chose one dessert! 

The elements are nicely balanced as a heaping pile of fluffy whipped cream dusted in powdered sugar and cinnamon highlights the juicy berries and a sturdy, well made shortcake. 

 The bill gets delivered with another nod to an older time, featuring a handful of the sticky peanut butter-molasses flavored candy, Mary Jane!
Happy's is a happening neighborhood spot that offers good cocktails, food and fun in a vibrant setting. There is a fine balance Schlow seems to achieve of not taking himself or the menu too seriously, while still delivering tasty dishes. I look forward to returning, perhaps next time for a Ramen Noodle bowl or a Blue Plate special! 
Happy's Bar and Kitchen on Urbanspoon

19 comments:

Lin @ BeantownEats said...

I'm ready to go back whenever you are! I loved it there! I can't wait to try the tv dinner. So glad we all went :)

Meghan said...

I really want to go here. I love wedge salads, and well, that mac and cheese looks amazing and it's only 8:00 in the morning! :)

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

I've been on a wedge salad kick lately too. Something about the crisp lettuce topped with blue cheese really hits the spot!

In and Around Town said...

I have not been there yet! I cannot wait - the whole meal and atmosphere looks fantastic!

Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

Love that they give MJ candies- how cute! i want to try there and Tico.

MelissaNibbles said...

The mac and cheese looks delicious!

MOLLY GALLER said...

It's so fun to read your review since we ordered totally different things! That wedge salad does look fantastic and I want those chocolate cookies!

Michelle Collins said...

That margarita and homemade ricotta alone have me salivating. I need to go here!

Amber said...

the Strawberry Basil Margarita sounds so so good. I keep seeing more and more drinks involving basil. Definitely different and definitely yummy.

Shannon said...

seeing as i'm right here for work, i really need to try that place out! if not for the mascarpone oreos, than for everything else :)

Hogger and Co. said...

There's enough dairy in this for me to bring on the Lactaid, but seriously, that Strawberry Basil Magrgarita, I could SO use, right about now!
P.S Skaros Rock HIKE? Is up!

Colleen @ Culinary Colleen said...

That mac and cheese is really calling my name (although, so is everything you described). Can't wait to check this place out!

Simply Life said...

oh wow! what a meal! homemade ricotta AND mac & cheese- i am drooling!

Megan said...

When are we going back? I seriously want to try the ramen... and more cocktails, obviously!

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

Holy crap, everything looks good. Your photos are incredibly, Daisy. Makes me want to lick, like, 10 plates in a row!

Elizabeth said...

That ricotta and those desserts seriously have my name written all over them

meesh said...

wow this food looks WAY better than I was expecting, I guess because I didn't really like Tico. Seems like a cool spot, but the drinks being priced over $10 is blasphemy.

Sacha said...

Your photos of both the food and space are truly amazing! I feel like I'm there. I love the little touches, like the lighting and silverware. I would definitely order the duck tacos -- they look and sound delicious.

this free bird said...

This looks eerily familiar. No jokes.