This place has been getting some traction with the foodies, burger lovers and bar-goers of NYC lately. The joint is somewhat set up like a tiki bar or a surf bar, only rather than a wooden shack, it has fancy wallpaper and some skylights. In the back there is a dining area, but the bar is the more fun place to drop your ass for a drink or a quick burger.
First let me start with the bar and drinks. The cocktails are a mix of exotic fruit flavors and old-fashioned, stiff, speakeasy drinks. Some of them are even served in tiki mugs, like this frozen slushee of the day, which was called Bad Medicine or Painkiller or something of that sort.
I’m not sure if “The Happiest Hour” even has a happy hour special, but they certainly fucking should with a name like that.
My wife and a friend of ours met there at 7:30, which is usually at the back end of, or just after, the typical happy hour times of NYC, but I didn’t see any signage or menu items listed for specials. The cheapest item to drink that contains alcohol is this 12oz can of Narragansett for $4.
Draft beers are on the small and expensive side, at $8 for what looks like a 10oz glass, maybe 12oz if filled to the absolute top. Fuck that bullshit. I stuck with the cans of Narragansett, because I’m not a wasteful asshole, and I actually happen to enjoy piss beer from time to time.
In any event, if you’re here after dark and are looking for an even greater selection of interesting and expensive cocktails (averaging $16 per drink), then go down into the basement to S&S (Slowly Shirley), which is owned and operated by the same crew, serves up some of the same bar snacks (some of which are slightly more expensive down there, too), but sports a massive cocktail list of some of the most awesome concoctions you will ever come across.
This place is Mad Men/Magic City meets The Brady Bunch in Hawaii. The menu is similarly styled as upstairs, but there’s a lot more to choose from, and some really incredible mixes of things you’d never expect to play nice together, like mezcal and beets, or scotch and cucumber.
Okay so now that all of that bullshit is out of the way, let’s get down to the meat of this review: the food.
I ordered The Happiest Burger, which consisted of two 4oz patties, American cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles, confit onions and special sauce, all between a nice potato bun.
I must say that the hype is well-placed. The burger is excellent, and easily slides into my top ten in the city. I didn’t quite taste the onion or special sauce, but that was only because they were generous with the cheese, which I like. The bun was fantastic – nice and simple, soft and strong. The lettuce gave it a good crunch, and the tomato supplied some juice, but without anything dripping all over the plate or my shirt. It was cooked a little bit too much, as you can see from the cut below, but not unacceptable:
The fries were equally awesome. These were shoestring style, very crisp and nicely seasoned.
That bowl size is the $6 side order, as opposed to the $4 smaller size that you can get with your burger. Since there were three of us, we shared the one bowl instead of each getting our own fries. That freed up our bellies to try a couple of other items.
We tried the buffalo cucumbers, with watermelon, poppy seeds and mint, as well as the smoked fish dip.
The first thing I will say about these items is that they are incredibly overpriced and tiny. These small cups of approximately 3oz of food are $6 and $10 each, respectively, for the cucumber and fish dip. That’s fucking dumb. The cucumber thing was good; spicy and refreshing, though very watery. But the fish dip was a fail. First, there wasn’t much fish in it, and what was there tasted a bit too canned, even with the addition of fresh fennel and celery. For $10 I’d rather just get one of their other burgers, or go buy a cheese grater and take it to my erect cock. Fucking rip off.
My wife got the Grilled Cheese Bikini, which contained both fontina and American cheeses, and came with a side of tomato “soup.” I say “soup” in quotes because it was more like shitty marinara tomato “sauce,” served in the same small cup as the apps/snacks. That was a big bummer, but at least the grilled cheese was tasty as fuck. It was buttery, crunchy and had lots of gooey cheese. Nice execution. One thing I noticed was the flake salt that they used to finish it once it came off the grill. That added an awesome flavor pop and crunch to the bread.
I think that about covers it. So we have an interesting review here: Some really great highs (burger, grilled cheese, cocktails), but some incredibly deep lows (pricing, tomato soup, sides). Oddly enough, the burger is fairly priced at $12, considering it is far and away the best menu item that I tried. I would like to try the fried chicken sandwich next time if I go back. Anyway, now you can go there armed with the knowledge necessary to ensure a pleasant and satisfying dining experience. You’re fucking welcome.
THE HAPPIEST HOUR
121 W. 10th St.
New York, NY 10011