Worth a Stop … or Not
on the Happy Hour Circuit?
Situated on Route 5 in East Windsor, Roberto’s Real American Tavern has limited competition as a local destination for those who work or live in the general area. At the same time, if you’re heading south, it’s only about 15 minutes more time to reach Evergreen Walk in South Windsor and The Shops at Buckland Hills in Manchester, where there is some serious Happy Hour competition. Or, if you’re willing to drive an additional 30 minutes to West Hartford, the Happy Hour competition reaches its zenith. So, the question to ask is whether Roberto’s is worth a stop to check it out or should you keep on going to Manchester/South Windsor or West Hartford? As you’ll see, it depends.
“Essence of Real American”
According its web site, Roberto’s Real American Tavern’s “approach to food and drink is inspired by our country’s oldest tradition—the Early American Melting Pot Society.” In keeping with that approach, the site states that they are “proud to bring together a whole new world of cultural influences, tastes and textures.” It’s an interesting concept, but the proof as I say is in the Happy Hour!
Questionable Style, But Still Comfortable
While I do not claim to be the definitive expert on style, my first reaction on seeing the attempted fusion of urban industrial galvanized steel with the existing colonial interior from the place’s days as Pasco’s was to ask why? I found it kind of funky (and not in an appealing way). I can understand the rationale, perhaps, but the execution leaves me unimpressed. It detracts from the atmosphere and keeps the bar from feeling as welcoming as it could, while raising concerns about how well the melting pot concept is executed in the food and drink options.
Otherwise, the seating at the bar was comfortable and the mood was relaxed.
SCORING: THE VIBE (ATMOSPHERE – Maximum of 20 Pts.)
• Style _2.5_ (1-5)
• Layout _5_ (1-5)
• Cleanliness _5_ (1-5)
• Mood _5_ (1-5)
TOTAL VIBE SCORE _17.5_
Generally Strong and Positive
with Only One Skip
As my regular followers know, I believe service is the heartbeat of any Happy Hour. Great drinks and food don’t matter if you can’t what you want when you want it. Fortunately, other than a long lag between bringing me my first drink order and checking back to see if I wanted to order food, Victoria, the bartender on duty, was friendly, attentive and very efficient. (Truthfully, I could easily have gotten her attention to order food, but I like to see how long it takes to be asked and I wasn’t in a hurry to be somewhere else.)
SCORING: THE HEARTBEAT(SERVICE – Maximum of 20 Pts.)
• Attitude _5_(1-5)
• Attentive/Responsive _3_(1-5)
• Helpfulness _5_(1-5)
• Efficiency _5_(1-5)
TOTAL HEARTBEAT SCORE _18_
The Good, The Bad and The Limited
As the “focus” of Happy Hour, the importance of the drink menu cannot be overstated! And while priced is certainly a major factor, what you get for that price is even more critical. In evaluating the mixed drinks on Roberto’s Happy Hour Menu, I found the selection to be limited with only four Happy Hour cocktails offered and a two of them featuring coconut.
Being an aficionado of mules, I opted to start with the Mediterranean Mule which was excellent. The European fig vodka added a refreshingly different twist to make this drink easily drinkable and quite enjoyable.
My second drink was the Coconut Gimlet and it did not go down well. In fact, it was so bad I could only drink about half of it. The New Amsterdam Coconut Vodka was harsh and not the least bit tempered by the lime juice. (In online research, this vodka supposed got excellent reviews. I don’t see how.)
At the same time, if you prefer wine, you’ll find a good selection of types to choose from.
SCORING: THE SIPS (DRINKS – Maximum of 20 Pts.)
• Selection _3.5_ (1-5)
• Unique Options _4_ (1-5)
• Pricing _5_ (1-5)
• Quality/Taste _2.5_ (1-5)
TOTAL SIPS SCORE _15_
Variety is the Spice of Life, But …
True to its American melting pot concept, the food portion of Roberto’s Happy Hour Menu offered a diverse selection of foods from various cultures as well as some traditional Happy Hour staples like wings at very affordable prices.
For a number of reasons, I started (and ended) with the Blackened Dry Rubbed Boneless Wings. I received four generous-sized wings covered with a thick, crunchy coating that differed from my expectations for blackened dry rubbed. However, once I managed to get to the actual chicken underneath, it was moist and seasoned with plenty of heat (just the way I like).
SCORING: THE BITES (FOOD – Maximum of 20 Pts.)
• Selection _5_ (1-5)
• Unique Options _5_ (1-5)
• Pricing _5_ (1-5)
• Quality/Taste _4_ (1-5)
TOTAL SIPS SCORE _19_
Not Quite Top Shelf,
But Worth a Stop
While it came up just a bit short of the competitive Happy Hour standards in West Hartford or, in most cases, Manchester/South Windsor, Roberto’s Real American Tavern still rates high when judged on its own merits and justifies a stop to check out the Happy Hour if you’re in the area.
TOTAL SCORE _70_
• TOP SHELF (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) ___ (72-80) (Equates to Uniquely Recommended)
• GOOD CHOICE (WELL RECOMMENDED) _X__ (64-71) (Equates to Recommended W/O Reservations)
• DECENT (STANDARD) ___ (52-63) (Equates to Recommended W/Caveats)
• AVERAGE (LAST RESORT) ___ (48-51) (NEW RATING)
• AVOID (THE BOTTOM) ___ (<48) (Equates to Not Recommended)
Visit their website for more info, then check them out for yourself
Tell them The Dark Diva sent you!