Evenings this time of year are very often pleasant here in central Texas. Temperature at mid-afternoon is steady in the low eighties, so by the time rush hour arrives the air takes on a silky, cooling feel. Breezes are usually light too. Perfect for dining al fresco, or simply sitting on a deck somewhere and enjoying a drink or two and watching the sunset.
PJ had this coupon from McCormick & Schmick’s that was due to expire. We’ve had dinner with family there in the past, and the seafood was excellent. We’d never considered happy hour, though; so off we went to see how the casual, outside area would play out.
The coupon was a nice one, worth up to $25 on its face. However, it’s fairly restrictive, as it covers only food (no drink) from the standard menu. Well, okay; Paula Jo was quite hungry, so that was no real barrier to use. There was a nice table for two right next to a big tree, so we moved out to the patio and settled into our chairs.
The people at M&S are very friendly, and they know their menu well. The happy hour offerings are quite nice, including drinks, appetizers and light meals. I tried the on-tap beer, called a Knotty Brunette. A solid pilsner with a deeper, golden color than many, this brew is smooth on the palate, with enough hops to give a bit of astringency but not enough to overbalance the flavorful malting. (The picture doesn’t do the brew justice, really.) PJ sprang for a sangria to settle the dust after a hard day’s work. I find their sangria to be flavorful, if a bit too sweet for my tastes. Plenty of fruit flavors, and the red wine used as a base is good quality.
The happy hour menu features bruschetta (our choice), shrimp appetizers and light meals. Drinks, of course. Prices are quite reasonable, from $3-6 per item. They offer a small hamburger, nothing fancy, for $3.95, for instance. It’s pub grub, not haute cuisine. Satisfying, though. (Next time I’ll remember to ask for mayo.) Other items include small pizzas, fish tacos, beef quesadillas, buffalo wings and Kobe beef sliders. PJ ordered a full-menu shrimp dish, the crab-stuffed shrimp with mashed potatoes. These potatoes aren’t the usual bland, over-processed type either! They’re made with red pepper and white cheddar cheese, and there’s a bit of texture left as well. This was a great way for the coupon to sacrifice itself.
Our only quibble was with the bruschetta. Because of the languorous server pace, the toast bits were somewhat soggy. The taste was fine, with fresh tomatoes and plenty of minced basil, drizzled with a good-quality balsamic vinegar reduction. PJ’s a big fan of sweet potato fries, and we’ll try them next time.
As long as the weather’s this nice, you should consider running out to the Domain and settin’ a spell. You won’t be disappointed…
McCormick & Schmick’s, 11600 Century Oaks Terrace (in the Domain), Austin, TX 78758. Phone 512.836.0500. Up-scale seafood and libations in a luxurious dinning room, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Reservations honored. Full bar. Happy hour. Outside dining available. Gluten-free friendly. Free Wi-Fi (if you must).
Enjoy the (Balmy Spring Dining) Heat!
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