Thursday, July 21, 2005

Trying To Find Happiness At Happy Hour: Weiland Brewery

The bad news is that the system at work went down for the rest of the afternoon; the good news is that we were allowed to go home early...woo hoo!!! Being that I usually get home right when most happy hours end, I felt the need to take full advantage of today's free afternoon. I grabbed Isaac and we headed down the street to Weiland Brewery Restaurant to make pigs of ourselves at happy hour.

When I worked in San Francisco, I always felt like I was a part of a real urban work force. Maybe it was because we all swam upstream or downstream together like those cliche scenes in all of those Wall Street based movies. I felt like I shared something in common with all of the other corporate stiffs around me. But in LA, I don't know what it is, there doesn't seem to be as much of a sense of camradery between us office drones. Maybe it's because everything in LA is so spread out, but I felt a little outside of my turf when I walked into Weiland Brewery today (even though I live nearby) I wasn't sure if I was tripping or if people actually stopped to look us up and down as we walked into the brick-walled, loft-like building in Little Tokyo. It's as if happy hour for us office lackeys is what clubbing is to the younger, nightlife crowd. Is my 3/4 sleeve blouse not cool enough? Is your suit of a better quality than mine? Come on, be nice--this is downtown; skid row is only several blocks away. Perhaps it was still early and no one had enough drinks in them yet. OK fine, we had two hours to loosen up.

I think it was an off day, though. I think people were extra snarly today because of the heat and because the restaurant was out of Hefeweizen on tap as well as another one of their draft beers. Which is kinda shitty if you ask does a brewery run out of beer??? Anyways, Weiland Brewery's happy hour is usually pretty happy. It runs from 3pm-7pm and then again from 10pm to close. I like the fact that it runs until 7pm instead of 6 or 6:30 like many places, which actually gives you time to enjoy. As opposed to those "bar area only" happy hour policies, Weiland's happy hour menu is honored throughout the spacious restaurant & back patio. I hate it when I go to those bar area only places and all of the seats in the microscopic bar area are taken fair!

It's not a bad deal here...about ten different discounted appetizers are offered on their happy hour menu, ranging from $1.95 to $3.95 each. Cool pints of draft beer will cost you only two to three bucks each as they're a dollar off. We split five appetizers between the two of us, and because we're both trying to lose weight, shared one beer. (I'm being sarcastic!) Their garlic fries are delicious and a bargain at $1.95 for a big basket. The thin strips of hand cut potato are crispy, and seasoned so well with salt and garlic that you'll need a good supply of mints for the next day or so.

Awesome garlic fries

For some spice, we ordered a plate of buffalo wings and a plate of buffalo shrimp, $3.95 each. Both items were dipped in the same hot red sauce which was a "good" spicy--not bland, and not so spicy that it made me cry, but vinegary with a nice spicy kick. The buffalo shrimp only came with four shrimp but they were good sized, meaty prawns. They give you more wings--about ten--but I wish they had given us more carrot and celery sticks; they only put two of each on the plate. Waaah!

Where'd all the celery and carrots go?

Phat buffalo shrimp

Our chicken quesadilla was, though generic, pretty good. Mixed with melted jack cheese and jalapenos were pieces of moist, marinated grilled chicken for the filling. All of it smooshed between two lightly browned flour tortillas. A couple swipes of the guacamole and it was on. Another value at $3.95.

A chicken quesa-DILLAH (note the Napoleon Dynamite reference)

I should have known better than to have ordered crab cakes when I saw that they were $3.95. There is a certain risk there: quesadillas or hot wings at $3.95 are mostlikely going to be okay. Crabcakes or anything involving seafood at $3.95 is questionable. Fortunately, the buffalo shrimp turned out OK; unfortunately, the crab cakes did not. I don't think they were made with crab, but rather something that looked like and tasted like cat food. (Not that I know what cat food tastes like) They were also extremely dry. The $3.95 seafood theory also proves true with their fried calamari, which we didn't order this time for obvious reasons. The calamari here isn't your typical thin but snappy and tender rings and tentacles; instead, they're kind of like fried clam strips but blander. And they're breaded in a batter that you'd normally find on fried zucchini, not on calamari. I saw a look of surprise on two girls' faces when the server brought them their order of calamari; obviously they'd never had it here before.

Cat food, I mean crab, cakes

We left around 6:30 and by that time, the crowd at the restaurant was definitely livelier. And somehow the up and down stares that we'd gotten when we walked in never occurred as we walked out. Sounds of laughter and good conversations filled the air. Everyone had unwound, chilled out, and was having fun. OK, maybe all of us office drones are in this together, regardless of whether we're downtown LA suits or San Fernando Valley suits. Just give us some cheap food and alcohol first.

Weiland Brewery Restaurant
400 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 680-2881


Kirk said...

Hey Pam - Wow, I've actually been here - we were in Little Tokyo late on night and I just had to get a cold one - a "Hefe", with a slice of lemon & those garlic fries - nice way to end an evening!

tracinamarie said...

I've been there a couple of times too, I like their hot wings, but made the mistake of ordering calamari and expected the crisp light rings, then had to immediately send it back when i got greasy battered strips. I am still in search of a truly great downtown happy hour...I've heard that Ciudad is great, but haven't had a chance to check it out yet...