Happy Hour at T-REX
Melanie says I have to post. I went to chowdown happy hour at T-Rex in Berkeley this evening. We were upstairs which is mostly glass and has nice overstuffed chairs, very elegant and comfortable; a nice place. The draft beer was great and at $3 from 3 to 6 p.m. a bargain as well-note that some of the mixed drinks are $5 during that time period. I tried the riblets, onion rings, french fries, mac and cheese, oysters, peanuts, and smoked salmon toast. I don't think this is a place to go for the food, but a great place to go for the drinks and ambiance between 3 and 6 p.m. Maybe some one who had more to drink than I did can come up with something nice to say about the food. http://www.t-rex-bbq.com/HappyHour.html
My favorite happysnacks are the eggs, and also the beef jerky (not on the happymenu). The fries aren't bad either. The riblets and onion rings were personal disappointments.
Dang, I knew there was something I forgot today.
Anyway, while I wasn't there today, I think it is a place to go for food for happy hour ... and do ... despite the fact that I don't usually do repeats on food I've tried. Don't like the salmon toast, deviled eggs or spring roll. I do like the ribs, fries and onion rings ... and beer. I'm nuts about the smoked mixed nuts which is what I usually order. the riblets next. The riblets though have been inconsistant.
The mac and cheese must have been off the regular menu. This is one of the many side dishes that gets changed often and I don't order it anymore because it is a "lady or tiger' situation ... you never know what to expect.
The upstairs is a comfy place for drinks and the happy hour prices were good. I find that T-Rex has a heavy hand with the salt on most dishes so wasn't surprised by the mac & cheese saltiness - it was still delish (and yes, it was a side on the regular menu). We also tried the greens as a side dish - good taste, but weren't chopped much so were difficult to eat. The fried food was a bit greasy for my taste and the spring roll didn't have much flavor. I always want to like T-Rex's food more than I do. Lee really liked the chipotle vodka though (and the chipotle ketchup that came with the fries) and was more impressed with his burger than he has been with much of the BBQ. All in all, the company, drinks and setting get an A, the food not so much.
First off, thanks to Melanie for organizing, and as always the company was great. This was my first visit to T-Rex and really appreciate the opportunity to share a new place with other hounds.
First impressions: T-Rex is much bigger, quieter, and comfortable (especially in the lounge area upstairs where we were) than I had imagined. Nice spot for a group.
Second impressions: the $5 happy hour well drink menu includes Maker's Mark Manhattans, which is what I ordered. I ended up enjoying two of the better Manhattans I've had in recent memory. I'd go back for drinks in a heartbeat.
As for food: in addition to the items mentioned, various hounds tried deviled eggs from the happy hour menu and several items from the regular menu, including spare ribs, short ribs, and mashed potatoes.
At $1 each the oysters were a good deal, they were from BC, but we weren't given any more information about their source. I had three or four, and they varied in terms of how tasty and well-shucked they were. The mignonette was too strong, lemon juice was a better choice.
The deviled eggs had too much mayonaise, but were attractively served on a bed of arugula, The fries were nothing special, but the ketchup that came with them was delicious. I actually liked the simple, mushroomy filling on the spring roll, but at three dollars apeice I probably wouldn't order it again.
I thought the riblets were tasty, as was the spicy sauce on the ribs....
I do like the cheap beer (and beertails), but I'm generally unimpressed with the happy hour menu. I still think that the spareribs and the short rib are the best things on the full menu.
I arrived early with honey cornbread on my mind, and enjoyed it very much, along with a nice pot of tea. I shared some of the peanuts (later learned it was meant to be mixed nuts), and did not find them tasting of smoke or spice. I've been to T-Rex for drinks and will certainly return; the upstairs lounge is such a comfortable spot. The next time I'm looking for tea and a snack, I'll think of T-Rex. Again, thank you Melanie for organizing!
It was excellent meeting all of you! I pretty much agree with everyone. T-Rex is a very comfortable place, especially for a group. I was greatly impressed with the oysters and riblets and wish I had tried the mac and cheese. I'm lactose intolerant so I have to be careful! :-)
Definitely a place to visit again. How is it on a Saturday night?
Curmudgeon, thanks for leading off for the chowdown post, and thanks to everyone who joined us. My first happy hour at T-Rex was the silver lining to the emergency dental appointment in the East Bay, and even better to have the 'hounds with me for some libations and attitude adjustment. As others have mentioned, the upstairs lounge tucked into the corner is quite nice for a group. I was comfy slouched in an easy chair for more than 3 hours as our group ebbed and flowed. Here's the photo looking down from our perch through the railings to the bar below and the sidewalk.
The beer was good and a bargain, didn't like the Chapel Hill lemonade (and I'm not sure what was in it). None of the happy hour menu items really hit me. If they'd been priced lower, they might have been acceptable. The single eggroll for $3 was silly, though admittedly I didn't taste it as it just looked too soggy to be good. The menu says "Devilled Eggs", but $2 only buys you three halves and some arugula, shouldn't there be at least four halves to be plural eggs? And, why not be honest and call your 99% peanut mix "peanuts" instead of mixed nuts? Besides the oysters, the one item I might order again would be the riblets at $5. We went through three orders, served at different times and I sampled from each plate. The thickish pieces were fine, but the thinner cuts were hard and tough. The second plate had a toughish layer, like it was reheated for too long.
It's too bad the mac and cheese was so salty, as I liked everything else about the interpretation here. Celery thought the pasta type was orechiette, whereas they looked like shells to me. But in any case they had a nice chewiness to them and the cheese had a lot of nice notes. However, it was brutally salty, like it had been salted three times and then some. The greens weren't quite as oversalted and I liked them quite a bit except for wishing that I had a pair of chopsticks to use to eat them.
I liked the spareribs, just a tad too dry, but not bad. The famous giant short rib had more of a braised flavor and texture than smoked in my one bite. How were the mashed potatoes and the drumsticks? I didn't try them.
T-Rex's sibling, Sea Salt, has the same drink offer and oysters for happy hour. Let's try that soon, as those were the highlights for me here and I won't miss the other things.
re: Melanie Wong
I'm definitely up for comparing Sea Salt's Manhattans to T-Rex's.... :-)
Actually, the fact that the spring roll was a bit soggy didn't bother me: I think it was because there was more filling that roll, and given how greasy the onion rings were that wasn't a bad thing.
The mashed potatoes were heavy on the cream, with very small lumps. One of the better dishes, actually.
BTW, though I only had one small bite of the mac and cheese, I didn't think it was that salty. I guess either I just got the right bite, with a lot of the melted cheese from the top, or the drinks had kicked in at that point? Probably should have eaten more to really judge but I had promised hubby I'd make it home for dinner....
well, actually, what I said was: (after thinking about it): 'For the drinks, yes'. I don't see the food as bad, and some of the tastier items (the cornbread, oysters and the riblets from the happy hour menu) are also a good value. T-Rex is indeed not somewhere I would probably want to go to for dinner, but the drinks on the happy hour menu and the ambiance would bring me back, and I would certainly eat (selectively) while I was there.
That's too bad, because T-Rex's dinner options are way better than their Happy Hour options.
I have a love-hate relationship with T-Rex: most nights, the drinks are good, but the food... Well, the food I've found to be totally inconsistent. Inconsistent to the point that when Curmudgeon told me about the chowdown and that all of you were going to be trying their happy hour, I opted to pass, even though I really do want to meet a lot of you. If it had been dinner, it might have been a different story as some of their dinner options I have actually found to be consistently good. I usually order the skirt steak with chimichurri whose acid works well with the (overly) rich mashed potatoes and their pulled pork sandwich is very good even though the smoke is very light.
well, some of the hounds did order off of the dinner menu, (the spare ribs, the short ribs, the burger, the mac and cheese, the greens) though of the options you mention we only tried the potatoes (which were rich, but not overly so, IMO, though I certainly love rich, creamy mashed potatoes). Wish you had been there to encourage us to try your favorites!
By the way, one of the hounds present had nothing good to say about the brisket......
That brisket -- the first time that I had it, I couldn't stop raving about it, and went back to have it again the following week, and it was just as great. And recently, it has just not been as great. They're clearly doing something different (well, now it comes to the table sliced, when it didn't before, but that can't be the only thing), and it's really disappointing.
The mac and cheese, however, was just soupy and not good at all the first time I had it, and then when I tried it again a few months ago it was great, so I don't know what's going on.
Ahh, the T-Rex mac and cheese.
When they do the salt thing, send it back. It will be replaced by an edible version.
I've learned to ask, specifically, that it be made as salt-free as possible. This
They're all made individually, so there's sometimes a bit of variation. I'm not sure
where the salt is coming from since when I've sat at the counter and watched them
make it, salt doesn't seem to be an ingredient. When it's done right, I totally love the mac
and cheese. Slightly less now that the price has been jacked up by $2 but it's still
something of a deal at $8 (compared to $14 at Lukas, for example).
The burger's pretty good. No one mentioned the wine? The wine by the glass is
overpriced garbage. I don't understand why they don't care.
I wasn't at the chowdown because I didn't know about it, but I'm pretty sure I was
at the bar downstairs while this was going on.