My friends Lauren and Nick joined me for happy hour at the tapas restaurant Lolo on NE Alberta last night. They are looking to take a trip to Europe, including Spain, this summer, so I offered up my "expertise" on the subject and thought a Spanish restaurant to be an appropriate setting for our conversation.
Let me first say that I'm a huge snob when it comes to food, but even more so when it comes to Spanish food. I've been privileged to not only eat at some fine restaurants in Spain, but also have been treated to months of genuine home cooked Spanish meals by my host mom Luisa, my late uncle Tavi, and a variety of his Spanish friends. So, my standards are high.
While waiting for the other parties to arrive, I ordered the bread/olive oil/olive plate ($2 h.h. price). I believe the bread may have been from Pearl Bakery--not sure about that, though. I know I've had it before. It came slightly toasted (odd) with a more-than-generous amount of olive oil splashed with sherry vinegar. The olives were good, but had a little too much citrus flavor for my tastes. That didn't stop us from devouring the whole plate. I also ordered the fried cod cakes, which were dressed with mojama mayo and chopped romaine, and the papas bravas (should be patatas bravas, we're in Spain after all) that came with a poached egg on top. I've never had patatas bravas with an egg, but it was really good. The yolk mixed nicely with the spicy, sweet, and smoky flavor of the sauce. Nick stayed simple with the fries that came with the most delicious aioli imaginable--same kind of sweet/smoky flavor, but different than the tomato-based patatas bravas. Lauren opted for the fideos with manchego cheese and peas. She thought it was a little salty, but there was quite a bit of cheese on it, so that would explain it. It was a more aged manchego.
I have to say, for the amount of food we got and the fact that the beers we had were $4 each*, it was a good value. The food was good, the service was friendly, and the space is very open and fresh. The three of us got out of there with 6 beers, 5 appetizers, and 1 cocktail for $53. Not too bad. Most of the prices are reasonable, but they tempt you with the regular menu and a delicious, exotic-sounding cocktail list (retail value: $8 each...eek!). Happy hour runs from 4:30 - 6:30 Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; all night Wednesdays. The bar is small, though, so don't plan on a big group. Nice for good conversation on a cold, rainy Portland day.
*Draft beers are $3 during happy hour, but we went for the Spanish beer Estrella. Wines and sangria are $5/glass.