By Dr. Ink
A light rain during rush hour was all it took to delay our arrival to Au Revoir Bistro’s happy hour, held within a narrow window of time from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Just as my drinking assistant had warned, driving from Fashion Valley into Hillcrest under these conditions wouldn’t give us enough leeway to enjoy a second round of discounted drinks at the bistro. Sure enough, after a 30-minute car ride through what seemed like Armageddon, we schlepped our thirsty muzzles into the place 10 minutes before happy hour ended.
My goal when exploring San Diego’s happy hours is to spend around $10 for either one drink and a nosh or two drinks and a better buzz. In a perfect world, nibbles such as peanuts, pretzels and popcorn would be complimentary, but you have to leave the high-rent bubble of San Diego to find bar owners capable of providing such freebies.
At Au Revoir, I went over my budget by only 50 cents after quickly ordering a Kronenbourg French pilsner ($4) and a “tarte flambe” with onions and bacon ($6.50). Had we sailed in after 6 p.m., my bill would have come to $16, according to our young waiter when pointing out the regular prices in his heavy French accent.
The golden beer, poured from a bottle, revealed pleasant yeasty notes and a soft, slightly creamy finish. Known for its versatility in food pairings, it jived nicely with the onion tart, which tasted more American than French because of the bacon on top.
Conversely, my companion’s black mussels ($7) served in a pond of white wine, garlic, shallots and parsley tasted like a dish straight out of Paris. He washed them down with a glass of Chateau Gaudou malbec ($5) and came away highly satisfied. But why no bread to mop up the precious juice at the bottom of the bowl? Our waiter couldn’t give us an answer.
Other brews on special during happy hour include Gavroche French red ale, Stella Artois, Rough Draft Brewing IPA, and Miller Lite, which might seem like a mismatch to Au Revoir’s warm, Euro-style atmosphere.
Discounted wines by the glass are more limited in comparison to a California cabernet and chardonnay, and a Chilean pinot noir.
As for additional food choices, you can score an order of frog legs or baked escargot for only $6, either of which will send you on a fast track to France for a highly affordable price.