October 9, 2018
The Best Bars Know There’s No Lifetime Appointment,
You Have To Make Your Case Every Day
Really good bars know that success depends on never resting on your reputation. Instead, it has to be earned every day. Apparently, Billy Grant and his managers at Grant’s Restaurant & Bar in West Hartford understand this, starting with the most important keys to their success – the bartenders. As I often repeated in my reviews, your bartenders can make or break a Happy Hour (and the bar). Fortunately, I have consistently encountered good bartenders since starting my reviews. However, Jackie and Harris (my bartenders at Grant’s) took it to an even higher level. And, to be honest, it was all little things done right, which added up to a big impression.
They both greeted as soon as I walked in and saw that I had my choice of seats (it was the very beginning of Happy Hour). It was all smiles and friendly attitude as Jackie took my initial drink and food orders. When I asked Jackie if they put parmesan cheese on their Truffle Fries, she said they did, and I reacted negatively (cheese and I do not get along), so she immediately offered that make it without the parmesan. So, I ordered them that way. (Admittedly, that’s a small thing, but the fact that she said they could leave the parmesan off before I could ask was an astute, very customer-oriented approach which I truly appreciated.)
Later, when Harris was the bartender taking care of me, I asked whether they fried their Calamari lightly or very crispy. Without hesitation, he answered that they could fix them however I wanted. Again, it was answering my real question before I could ask it. I ordered them lightly fried and that’s how they came out.
As a result, I got exactly what I wanted, and I left with a very high opinion of Grant’s that can only come from experience.
Verdict: I give Grant’s a winning judgement for service based on the bartending evidence!
In The Case of Happy Hour Cocktails:
Liberal Selection Rules
As a mixologist, I expect a good Friday Happy Hour to feature a decent selection of interesting cocktails or at least a really good deal on well drinks. Again, Grant’s appears to understand this well with one of the best Happy Hour cocktail selections I’ve encountered to date. It’s telling that there were a number of them I wanted to come back just to try. Sadly, it will be a while since I have so many bars to review and so little time (as well as only one liver).
For my first drink, I chose the Grant’s Flirtini (made with Absolut Raspberry, Lime & Cranberry Juice & Prosecco). Quite intriguing, it was an excellent mix of sweet and tart without being overpowering in either direction.
Needing to sample as many different drink options as possible (yet still drive home safely), I opted for the Lady Pink as my second and final cocktail. The strawberry basil combination piqued my interest since I tried (and enjoyed) something remotely similar during my visit to Waypoint Spirits craft distillery back in July. This proved to be a different animal (strawberry infused Beefeaters Pink Gin, muddled basil, fresh lemon juice, club soda) that was still very refreshing and a nice departure from the usual cocktail.
Verdict: The case for superior drink selection and quality is supported by evidence that’s very easy to swallow.
In The Case of Happy Hour Food Selection:
Good Taste Prevails
While I have enjoyed some excellent food options at the various Happy Hours I’ve reviewed, Grant’s took it to a new level with everything I love – Oysters, Truffle Fries and lightly fried Calamari. I normally never order more than two food options at Happy Hour, but there were just too many irresistible options on Grant’s menu
I started with three perfectly large and tasty Oysters to go with a huge serving of to-die-for Truffle Fries (no parmesan). I swear that I could have made those my dinner. However, I also have a weakness for good Calamari (which is lightly fried). And Grant’s conspired to assure extra weight gain by making them all exactly as ordered and totally delicious.
Verdict: I submit my empty Calamari plate as reviewer’s exhibit one in a unanimous judgement in Grant’s favor!
In Judging Atmosphere,
Grant’s Hammers Home Its Case Impressively
From the outside, Grant’s patio creates a welcoming vibe, especially in transitional seasons like fall and spring. Inside, the huge bar with the hammered metal top offers a mix of classic elegance and comfortable casualness which appeals to a wide variety of folks. As I said earlier, it was very empty when I arrived, but filled up nicely before I left. I gathered there were a number of regulars (based on interaction with the bartenders) who dropped in, but never got any impression that they were more important than I was.
Grant’s bills itself as a long-time hot spot in downtown West Hartford and I find it hard to argue against that statement,
Verdict: I rule that this is a really good atmosphere for Friday Happy Hour!
It is the non-partisan judgement of this reviewer that Grant’s Restaurant & Bar shall be awarded ***UNIQUELY RECOMMENDED*** status as meeting or exceeding all criteria for being an extraordinary Friday Happy Hour destination!
Check them out online here, then visit them and judge for yourself.
Tell them the Dark Diva sent you!
As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.