By Dr. Ink
Various media outlets recently reported that Queen Elizabeth throws down four alcoholic drinks a day. Good for her. I would, too, if I lived within walking distance of Trust Restaurant or had the budget for daily car or carriage service.
Like the queen, I’m a fan of gin. She supposedly prefers hers straight up.
I dig mine in a classic Bee’s Knees, a Prohibition-era elixir containing fresh lemon juice and a touch of honey — exactly how Trust makes them.
It’s one of a dozen cocktails on the happy hour list that are reasonably priced at $7 each.
When Trust first opened more than a year ago, its happy hour was offered in the literal sense — for only one hour.
That’s been thoughtfully stretched to two hours Monday through Thursday, and to three hours on Fridays.
The deals on cocktails, wine, beer and highly savory “bar bites” are available in three sections of the big-windowed restaurant, located at the base of the Mr. Robinson lofts building.
Customers can seize a seat at the inviting bar or at a couple of high tops near the entrance or within a comfy couch set on the roomy outdoor patio.
I chose a high top, which gave me a vantage point for observing the exceptional wait service Trust is known for.
With an army of servers on duty, menus and water were delivered promptly, cocktails and food arrived quickly, and basically no customer appeared abandoned.
As a devious follow up to my soothing gin drink, I tried the bar’s top-selling cocktail, known simply as “Trust cocktail #2.”
Manager Sophia Hussain said it’s been on the list since the restaurant’s launch, and that it’s also available up Park Boulevard at Trust’s new sister offshoot, Hundred Proof.
“A lot of people ask if the drink will be too spicy. It’s not,” Hussain said, referring to its blend of jalapeño tequila, grapefruit and peppery Firewater Bitters.
Hussain was right, the additions of agave and a slice of cool cucumber toned the heat, turning it into a gulpable tipple even for this non-fan of tequila.
To visit Trust without trying chef-partner Brad Wise’s cooking would be a grave oversight.
His bar bites, which are $2 off regular prices during happy hour, include two items cooked on a grill fueled by red oak: chicken wings speckled with garlic, chilies, honey and cilantro; and a mound of roasted cauliflower incorporating mint, serrano aioli, golden raisins and curry vinaigrette. Both were wildly delicious.
Other drink and food choices include the Penicillin, made with reposado tequila instead of scotch; a rye old fashioned omitting the cherries in lieu of a sugar cube and citrus peels; garlic-herb shrimp; and french fries draped in Mornay sauce and an egg.
There’s also a version of mac n’ cheese available only on the bar menu. It features Gouda cheese, ham, fresh peas and bone marrow.
Several local craft beers and select wines are also discounted during happy hour, which is not surprising that even on a Monday, gaggles of customers started arriving from the get-go.
Signature cocktails using a variety of clear and brown liquors incorporate local produce, fresh-squeezed juices and assorted bitters. Local craft beers and a few select wines round out the list.
The “bar bites” yield bigger-than-expected portions and offer complex flavors, such as the wood-grilled cauliflower and chicken wings. The offerings also include octopus fritters, pork spareribs with grilled lime, and more.
Signature cocktails are priced at $7 during happy hour, a $4 savings compared to their regular prices. The costs for beer, wine and bar bites drop $2 on average.
No customer is left forgotten. Both the dining room and patio are well-staffed by competent servers, and always with a manager on duty.
The urban-chic design mixes industrial elements with warm, homey touches such as an open-kitchen showing off copper cookware, and whimsical wall graphics displaying meat charts and a Betty Crocker cookbook cover.
Sara is the editor of San Diego Uptown News.