Category Archives: happy hour

Sausage-beef burger, meaty crab cake highlight fun happy-hour at Niles’ The Vine

Close-up of the Vine Burger at The Vine in Fremont's Niles Historic District.

Close-up of the Vine Burger at The Vine in Fremont’s Niles Historic District.

If you’re in the Fremont area one afternoon and looking for a laid-back happy-hour spot after work, give The Vine a try.

The contemporary American eatery and bar in Fremont’s Niles Historic District has a great patio area that features a long, wooden bar, plenty of umbrella-covered tables and a fire pit to sit around and enjoy a drink with friends.With Motown and funk classics playing in the background, I felt like I was at a friend’s outdoor party on a recent night – very relaxing and inviting (check out The Vine’s patio area here).

The Vine prides itself on offering “fine food – not fine dining” and using local produce and sustainable meats. I was impressed by the reasonably-priced small plates (several under $10), like the Tempura Fried Green Beans and Clam Frites, and its extensive cocktail menu that incorporates a sweet potato spirit called soju.

Dish of Choice

Since I only had a bag of Fritos for lunch, I had a big appetite this past Wednesday night. So I ordered the Vine Burger, a patty made with Niman Ranch sausage and beef, dressed with aioli, arugula, grilled tomato and pepper jack on top of a ciabatta bun with a side salad. I added a side of garlic fries.

The Guava Momma at The Vine in Fremont's Niles Historic District.

The Guava Momma at The Vine in Fremont’s Niles Historic District.

I also chose the Crab Cake, which came with a spread of roasted almond and red pepper aioli. For refreshments, I ordered the Mo-Beer-Jito, which was made with pilsner beer, soju, lemon and lime juice, crushed mint and agave nectar. The Guava Momma was mixed with sparkling wine, pomegranate molasses and an orange wedge on the rocks.
Altogether with tax, my bill came out to about $38.

The Taste

The Vine Burger tasted like a burger you would get at a cookout. It had a good charring on the patty and bun; the patty was tender and had a smoky flavor, and the ciabatta bun was grilled on the bottom but still soft on top and in the middle.

The fries were at a nice halfway point between soft and crispy and lightly seasoned with garlic, and the salad had a light, zesty vinaigrette that didn’t weigh it down.

The crab cake was packed with fresh meat, and I liked the small slices of onions and peppers throughout the cake. I also enjoyed the thin, crisp breading (I hate when a crab cake is mostly breading with a smidge of crab).

The Crab Cake at The Vine in Fremont's Niles Historic District.

The Crab Cake at The Vine in Fremont’s Niles Historic District.

The Mo-Beer-Jito was tart, citrusy and had a great helping of mint to make it that much more refreshing. The Guava Momma was effervescent and had a nice sprinkling of citrus fruit and strawberry slices. It was a refreshing girly drink without overdoing it on the sweetness.

Other Details

Happy Hour at The Vine is from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, according to the restaurant’s website. Along with lunch and dinner, The Vine also offers Sunday brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I love brunch, and I am intrigued by the Smoked Salmon Bruschetta, made with salmon, scrambled eggs, creme fraiche, caper and red onion salsa and grilled garlic bread. I’ll make my way over one Sunday morning.

The Vine is located at 37533 Niles Boulevard in Fremont. For more information, call (510) 792-0112 or visit

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 7, 2015 in burgers, cocktail, food, happy hour, seafood


Tags: , , , ,

Oyster lover’s dream: Extensive menu of happy hour seafood delights at Mountain View’s Shell Shock

The Crispy Oyster Nacho at Shell Shock Oyster Bar Grill in Mountain View.

The Crispy Oyster Nacho at Shell Shock Oyster Bar & GrillĀ in Mountain View.

Oyster lovers should be impressed by the extensive list of oyster cocktails, offering a range of fresh, grilled and fried oysters, at Mountain View’s Shell Shock Oyster Bar & Grill. Some of the happy hour oyster specialties include the Killin’ Oysters, prepared fresh with garlic, green onions and hot sauces, and Shuck Me, grilled oysters made with Shell Shock BBQ sauce and bacon.

For those who are not huge fans of oysters – like me – Shell Shock has other seafood and non-seafood specialties that should satisfy your palate. One dish that will probably be on my plate next time is the Break An Egg: fries topped with a fried egg, chorizo and Serrano peppers. Yum!

Dish of Choice

I have to preface this section by saying my first time having oysters was not a pleasant one. The last time I had a fresh oyster, it did not get past my esophagus and it went back up into my napkin. The consistency and appearance of the oyster made me think of snot on a rock. Along with that, I feel that fresh oysters have a weird fishy aftertaste, like someone just plucked them out of the ocean and set them on my plate. I can’t get past that aftertaste.

Nevertheless, I wanted to give oysters another shot.

I ordered the Crispy Oyster Nacho, fried, bread oysters on top of wonton chips with pico de gallo and spicy aioli. I also ordered the Herb Butter Oysters, which came to two grilled oysters and prepared with lemon butter, sage, parsley and chives.

Under the happy hour menu, the Crispy Oyster Nacho was $7 and the Herb Butter Oysters were $5. Along with two glasses of house wine at $5 a piece, my bill came out to about $22 without tax.

The Herb Butter Oyster at Shell Shock Oyster Bar & Grill in Mountain View.

The Herb Butter Oyster at Shell Shock Oyster Bar & Grill in Mountain View.

The Taste

So I know just about anything that is fried tastes good, but I enjoyed these oysters on the Crispy Oyster Nacho. They were lightly breaded, and the meat was very tender. The wonton chips were crispy and not greasy, adding an interesting texture to the dish. The pico de gallo was flavorful, fresh and had a great helping of cilantro. The aioli gave the dish some bite and added vibrancy to the presentation.

As for the Herb Butter Oyster: I really wanted to like this dish. Although the menu said this oyster was grilled, it tasted more on the raw side. But maybe oysters are not supposed to be on the grill that long (I’m no expert in oyster cooking techniques). The lemon butter and seasonings helped, but I still got that “straight from the ocean” aftertaste. I stand firm in the belief that oysters are an acquired taste, so this is not the fault of the restaurant.

Other Details

Shell Shock prides itself in serving the shellfish aficionados in the area, according to its website. The restaurant has the finest products delivered daily from Bay Area and national oyster farms and personally selects the shellfish featured on the menu, the website says.

Shell Shock offers a variety of vegetarian and gluten-free small plates and entrees and hosts happy hour from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, with a late happy hour from 9 p.m. to close.

The restaurant is located in downtown Mountain View at 124 Castro St., along the town’s main strip of restaurants, bars and shops. For more information on Shell Shock, visit,, or call (650) 988-8880.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 12, 2015 in happy hour, oysters, seafood


Tags: , ,

Prime Rib Shepherd’s Pie is upscale comfort food at Angelica’s in Redwood City

The Prime Rib Shepherd's Pie at Angelica's in Redwood City.

The Prime Rib Shepherd’s Pie at Angelica’s in Redwood City.

I have been on a serious seafood kick lately, so I thought I would switch things up and go a little heartier. The last half of this week has been pretty chilly with the rain coming in, so some good, warm comfort food is in order. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived to Angelica’s in Redwood City and saw the menu included a shepherd’s pie, a meat pie made with a crust of mashed potatoes.

Dish of Choice

I chose the Prime Rib Shepherd’s Pie, which included slices of prime rib, peas, baby carrots, pearl onions and fresh thyme, topped with a layer of mashed potatoes and a blue cheese garnish. Along with two cranberry and vodka cocktails, my bill came out to about $38 with tax.

The Taste

This dish delivered good comfort food with a fine dining twist. The prime rib was succulent, and the vegetables tasted fresh and tender, without being overcooked or mushy. The potatoes were thick and smooth, with a nice toasting on the top and edges. The blue cheese was baked into the potatoes and created a strong flavor and heartiness. The two pieces of crostini placed on top of the shepherd’s pie made for a quirky presentation and added a nice crunch to the meal.

The Ambiance

Angelica’s has a higher-end vibe without feeling stuffy. The main dining room had dark mahogany furniture and trimming, chandeliers and original musical artwork on the walls. The dining area also had a decent-sized stage area for live entertainment. My dad’s band, Papa’s Bag: A James Brown Experience, performed at Angelica’s Thursday evening and had the room rocking. Angelica’s seems like a great place for dinner and dancing at the end of a hard work week. The prices are a bit higher than casual dining, but the restaurant delivers on the quality.

Other Details

Angelica’s is located at 863 Main St. in downtown Redwood City. The restaurant has a brunch and happy hour menu during the week and on weekends. For more information, call (650) 679-8184 or visit

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 7, 2015 in brunch, comfort food, happy hour


Tags: , ,

Peanuts and carrots on pizza? Yep, it works at Yard House in San Jose

The Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza at Yard House in San Jose.

The Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza at Yard House in San Jose.

Santana Row, which has been called the “Rodeo Drive” of Silicon Valley, has some high-end stores like Gucci, Kate Spade and Bonobos. So when an acquaintance of mine suggested we meet there for an early dinner, I figured the only thing I would be able to afford was a side salad and some water. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Yard House, which has a terrific happy hour menu and an impressive selection of appetizers, entrees and cocktails.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza, which was made with firecracker sauce, mozzarella, macadamia nuts, carrots, green onion and cilantro. I also ordered one of the Fresh & Skinny cocktails, ranging from 140 to 200 calories and made with the restaurant’s own house citrus agave blend. I picked the Pure Cosmo Martini, which was made with Skyy Infusions citrus vodka, cranberry juice and fresh lime. Since it was happy hour, I got discounts on the pizza and martini. With tax, my bill was about $17.

The Taste

I never thought I would eat a pizza with carrots and nuts on it, but I wanted to expand my culinary horizons. The pizza was delicious and enough to split with another person (I took half of it home). I didn’t know what firecracker sauce was, but I assumed it would be spicy. It was, but not “set your mouth on fire” spicy. The carrots and nuts brought a nice crunch to the dish, and the green onion and cilantro created a flavorful palate. No ingredient felt out of place.

I typically try to stay away from cocktails that have a lot of ingredients because it’s just extra calories I don’t need. I enjoyed the Pure Cosmo Martini because it was simple: vodka, cranberry juice, lime. That’s all I need.

The Ambiance

Yard House was super busy, even with it only being 4 p.m. on a Tuesday. However, we only had to wait about 15 minutes to get a table in the large bar area. The restaurant has a modern, upscale look, like many casual dining places in the area. It has dim lighting, contemporary, abstract paintings on the walls and several flat-screen televisions to enjoy locally- and nationally-televised sports. It seems like a fun place to meet up with friends before hitting the club or seeing a concert.

Other Details

Yard House in San Jose is located at 300 Santana Row. It has several locations throughout California and 19 other states. For more information on the San Jose location, call (408) 241-9273 or visit

1 Comment

Posted by on December 30, 2014 in happy hour