Two happy hour treats

By weeklyvolcano on July 7, 2009


When the whistle blows at 5, it’s "happy hour" â€" at least for anyone who lives in a state that allows such a debauched tradition. Here in the good South Sound, we have what the restaurant/bar industry has developed as the "happy hour menu."

Monday through Friday, chef Jeff Bishop and his crew over at Merende Restaurant serve delicious happy hour dishes all hovering around $5. Although several of their happy hour dishes are miniature versions of their dinner entrees, many of these "small plates" are big enough to call lunch.

My two favorite happy hour dishes right now are the meatballs and tagliatelle with ragu and bolognese. Both ring in at $5.

MERENDE-MEATBALLS The spicy Meatballs are a blend of ground chuck, pork, and veal, some onions, garlic, oregano, thyme, eggs and breadcrumbs. Bishop doesn’t overwork them so they’re not tough. Sometimes he'll add smoked mozzarella for a surprise.

MERENDE-TAGLIATELLE The bolognese is a blend of ground lamb, veal and pork. Tomatoes, mirepoix, veal stock, tomato paste, oregano, nutmeg are added with a bit of heavy cream. Bishop slow cooks the sauce for at least four hours. Add the tagliatelle pasta and it can substitute for a meal.

Best of all, Merende’s happy hour prices run 2 to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 p.m. to close Friday and Saturday. So if the boss is too bossy, you can blow the office off and start happy hour early â€" which is right now!

[Merende, 813 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.722.1993]