OK here’s the first!
1. Calamari Happy Hour, Coconut Grove.
3540 Main Highway
Coconut Grove, Florida 33133
Not that Calamari has ever been a bad place to go to in my limited experience, but the Happy Hour was disappointing.
I went at 4.30pm on a Wed. afternoon – Calamari Happy Hour is 4 – 7pm. There weren’t many people in the large restaurant (inside or outside) and I sat at the bar where one guy sat yapping into his phone non-stop. The insufferable bore.
My last hour had been interesting, having a hair cut and listening to the hairdresser share some of his rich life experience which included devil worship. So I was in a good mood – I’d forgotten how hungry I was when I went into the hairdresser’s.
Surprisingly given the popularity of Calamari the place remained pretty much deserted in the time I was there. For the longest time there were a few tables with people outside then just me and the yappy guy at the bar. Then a much older man came in and set near us and she was trying to impress him in some way – she wanted a job? – and he kept looking at me. I didn’t like it.
The bar tender was lovely and inexperienced, he’d previously been a server in the restaurant and was still learning the bar. He looked too young to even drink there. We surmised that my least fattening choice on the short Haappy Hour menu was the little antipasto. The other choices all seemed heavy, like fried calamari and panini. I have definite favorites on the regular Calamari menu but wanted to try the Happy Hour one.
I didn’t like that the server cautioned me that all the Happy Hour choices were smaller than usual – I like it when you go to a Happy Hour and you get the regular food cheaper.
Similarly the drinks deal at Happy Hour wasn’t great – half off beer or wine. Martinis are my favorite Happy Hour drink. Some places have them two for one, I prefer them half off – or even free! (Thank you Blue Martini and other places who are so generous.)
The charming young server was thoughtful enough to ask me if I’d like bruschetta whilst I waited for my antipasto. Of course I did. Calamari gives you tasty bruschetta with garlicky tomatoes whilst you wait and it’s free. Tasty!
Whilst I waited for my food and sipped the glass of Malbec I’d ordered I spied a new bottle in the rich array of bottles before me at the bar – a blue Skyy Infusions (vodka) bottle, All Natural, with Ginger. Hmm, a new experience to try!
On asking the server for a taste of it he gave me at least an inch of it in a glass tumbler. Excellent! This generosity amongst other things was reflected in my tip – 40%. That’s unusually generous for me. I have friends who tip much more generously than I do when satisfied. That also tends to be a product of the Pink Pound – do Americans tend to know that term?:
My antipasto when it came was boring. Well-received – hey, I’d only had a bowl of porridge that day – but boring; a shave or two of proscuitto, couple of slices of two salamis, one with big spots of fat in it (Mortadella? My server didn’t know and I wasn’t sure), and the more common salami that’s redder and more intense-looking with lots of little spots of fat in it. Forgive me for not remembering the names, I just eat the stuff!
Also present were a few black olives, a few small slices of red pepper and a few of sun-dried tomatoe.
Along for the ride were some bits of hard white, tasty cheese (Pecorino?), and a red cheese that I avoided as it looked like Cheddar cheese. a staple of the area I come from in England – and bland.
Amusingly I heard the insufferable bore (previously mentioned) talking to two women who had come to the bar and who he got off the phone for. (One a middle aged blonde, the other a much older brunette – her mother? Why were they bothering to talk to him you may wonder? I certainly did. Here’s what I came up with – women in Miami are desperate. His monotone was, unsurprisingly, just as boring to overhear when he was talking to them as when he was going on on the phone.) I heard this guy telling them “They have this thing called Cheddar cheese.”. Yep.
Calamari is a lovely restaurant for lunch or dinner.
For Happy Hour?
My friends and I put in sheer dedication, toil and sweat into enjoying local happy hours, suggestions coming soon, watch this space!