Happy-hour excursions always seem to create choruses of "Why don't we do this more often?" With good reason: cheap drinks, cheap eats, and a relaxed atmosphere.
Suits are a dime a dozen around the bar at Trumbull Kitchen, as downtown businessmen unwind after a long day of work or finalize deals afterhours, but despite the ties and fancy watches, this is still the hip kid of the Max Restaurant family. The vibe stays cool in the bar and gets more refined with candlelit seating in the back.
Happy hour, at the bar only, is weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m.; late night Monday through Wednesday 10 to 11 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 11 p.m. to midnight. Menu options are many, with a hearty helping of Asian fusion, plus there's the menu of happy-hour tapas, at $1.99 or $2.99 each, that changes every month.
These are exactly what tapas should be: cheap enough to try many, and big enough to actually fill your belly with a reasonably-sized order.
The easiest thing to do was order one of everything, except two of the Braised Chicken and Green Chili Slider ($1.99) and East Coast Oyster Remoulade ($1.99 each) which didn't seem conducive for sharing. That resulted in six dishes to try, for a whopping total of $18.
Three or four orders of the oyster would have been more appropriate. It was a standout, bathing in a rich tarragon remoulade. Some bread for mopping up what was left in the shell would have been fantastic.
Everything else disappeared with similar speed. The rice dishes were great with a good amount of spice (the Rock Shrimp Jambalaya especially, $2.99) while the New Orleans Dirty Rice ($1.99) brought one of the first uses of chayote this food fan has seen at a popular restaurant.
Other dishes touting Trumbull Kitchen's Italian influence, the Muffuletta Olive Spread on ciabatta ($1.99) and Sicilian Flatbread (prosciutto, pepperoni, and kalamata tapenade, $2.99) were also pretty tasty.
The best part? The spread of dishes fully fed two people. Just add drinks to complete your happy hour : Trumbull Kitchen offers a different red wine, white wine, cocktail, and beer at only $5 each month.
Find the month's happy hour menu at http://www.facebook.com/trumbullkitchen or http://www.maxrestaurantgroup.com.
>>Trumbull Kitchen, 150 Trumbull St., in downtown Hartford, is open Monday to Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday noon to midnight; and Sunday 4 to 10 p.m. Information: 860-493-7417 and www.maxrestaurantgroup.com/trumbull.