Four items, four drinks, between 4:00pm-8:00pm, on Thursday. This is the recipe for “FOUR”, the new Thursday Happy Hour currently running at Checkers Downtown (Hilton). This is a hotel restaurant, but do not dismiss this as the typical business traveler’s restaurant.
On the menu during a typical November Thursday : grilled potato salad with alaskan salmon: Poached egg, wild arugula had no business of being only $4. With hearty portions, the poached egg had a nice gooey drenching effect on the entire non-leaning tower of salmon tartare. This isn’t Katsuya’s tuna tartare, it’s a European tartare with no Asian inspirations. It might also be the single greatest thing to be had in 2009 for less than $5.
Then there was deconstructed bratwurst on toasted sour dough, with violet infused mustard, stone ground dijon and a myriad of other sauces. Again, $4. There is no guarantee each item on the worldly tasting menu will ever repeat as Chef Todd Allison actually pairs the 4 happy hour menus with the not-so-minuscule bites. Why go through the trouble? Because it keeps the creative juices flowing, and allow for epic meals that end up being featured on LA Weekly’s Squid Ink.
The cocktails are thought-ridden as well. The Red Checkers that day was made with: martin gin Luxardo cherry juice Orange brandy, orange juice. The raspberry mint marg employed agave nectar and tasted truly of minty raspberry. Prohibition, something the restaurant manager Mr. Tyler Dow learned to make well at The Edison prior to revamping Checkers, uses Martin Miller gin, Lillet Blanc, fresh orange juice and apricot brandy.
Finally, paying random homage to the Ozarks, the calamari paired with the Probihition cocktail was accompanied by big oval chunks of deep fried pickles. Every one is making misto fritto, but not every chef is cool enough to toss in some fried pickles. Kudos to Chef Alisson for taking the creative effort to ramp up the new happy hour with some great bites. And thanks for Aubrey and Mr. Dow for allowing us the opportunity to take a complimentary peak at the workings of a downtown hotel drawing a new dining crowd.
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