When the best thing you ate at happy hour is the complimentary bread, you know things are awry. Last week I dropped in for the 5 to 6pm happy hour in the lounge at The Sardine Factory before a screening at the Aquarium. The bites in the bar had been a favorite value meal in years past, but not this visit.
The signature abalone bisque was so thick and floury, I had to use some of the cream provided with my tea service to thin it out. The bits of abalone were liked chewed up pencil erasers and this did not taste like much of anything at all. Calamari fries were kind of limp and unappetizing. Caper tartar sauce was creditable.
My server asked if I would like bread. After I said "yes", I started to wonder if there might be a charge for it. Luckily no, though this might be something that I would not mind paying extra for. Two fluffy and light as air potato rolls and two chewy ciabatta rolls were warm, served with marinated olives, hummus and whipped butter. The basket also included some very good grissini that were flavored with rosemary and olive oil.
Service was excellent from the server and the busser. They packed the remains of the bread for me to take home. And the lounge is still a warm, welcoming spot to hang out. I'll just be sure to order something else next time.