Sidebern’s Happy Hour is my favorite favorite favorite.

August 8, 2011

It’s just so damn good! Craft beers like Great Divide, Terrapin, and Cigar City for only $3 each? Higher end wine for only $5 a glass? Some of the best mixed drinks made by some of the most talented bartenders in the Tampa Bay area for only $5 a pop? Say hello to my favorite Happy Hour in Tampa. There’s my Berry Sour (absolute kurant, fresh lemon), tart yet refreshing. Sidebern’s makes a number of different mixers and drink-enhancing-liquids in house, elevating their cocktails to a level that few in Tampa match. And my better half’s Dry Gimlet (beefeater gin & house made lime cordial) – a citrusy yet balanced drink that went down ever so easily on a hot Florida summer day. The kitchen brought us each a complimentary amuse bouche, today a King Crab Croquette which was perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, with well seasoned and cooked crab. Yum. We started with Hamachi (including fresh hummus, meyer lemon, and pomegranate), which had a great depth of flavor and an amazing texture- the fish practically fell apart in my mouth. I could’ve happily eaten 5 more of these, but then this post wouldn’t have been very interesting now, would it? Up next was the Chicken Liver Crostini (with cherry, pistachio, and balsamic), and was another great dish- crunchy bread, soft chicken liver pate, pickled mustard seeds, and crushed pistachios. Rich but well balanced with the tart acidity of the cherry and balsamic. By this point our cocktails had disappeared, but our next two dishes absolutely required us to order a glass of vino (you’ll see) so we transitioned over to the grape juice. Our bartender Robert made a great recommendation and poured an Italian “Villa Antinori” which complemented our food nicely. Mmmmmm… I’m a sucker for all things porcine. Air cured ham from Spain (Jamon Serrano) is no exception, and the house made coffee mayonnaise provided with the dish really gave it some extra love. Sidebern’s has an amazing cheese selection. I can’t think of a restaurant in the area that has a more elegant one off the top of my head, they staff an expert in all things fromage, and that expert is certainly worth whatever they’re paid, the cheese is always excellent. The flight (a pretty good deal at only $6!) came with three cheeses, varying in strength and texture, and each with a complimentary side (olives, apricots, etc). I end up at Sidebern’s pretty much once a week for Happy Hour. The staff is top notch, very professional, attentive, and friendly. Dean, the bar manager, frequently competes in national cocktail/mixology competitions and is energetic and creative, always letting us sample a new creation or liqeur, once we got to try a dry-hopped tequila that they made for a special drink- really interesting, especially if you like both IPA’s and tequila drinks. Give them a shot, it might become your favorite new Happy Hour too!

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