The Bada-bing

HOURS: 5pm-7pm Tuesdays-Thursdays and Sundays, and 9-11 pm Tuesdays-Thursdays; 9-10 p.m. Sundays
PRICES: $5 happy thali (early HH); $6 naanwich (late HH); $5 cocktails, wine, $3 beer.

At Poppy’s happy hour, the star of the show is the Happy Thali. (To the uninitiated: “thali” means plate in Hindi, but also refers to a large tray replete with small bowls and saucers featuring different dishes that add up to a full meal.) It sells for the bargain price of $5 (a dinner-sized thali goes for $32).

I totally applaud Chef Traunfeld and friends for this concept—the best happy hours, to my mind, shrink down a restaurant’s specialties to snacking size: I’m thinking little pizzas at Serious Pie; mini lamb burgers at Café Campagne. You get to see what a chef’s all about (for more on the Poppy concept, read Kathryn Robinson’s post about her recent dinner there) and you have the chance to take in the atmosphere of a restaurant, without committing to a big expensive meal. And if you like it, you come back when you’re ready to throw down the bucks.

Win-win.

Yesterday’s happy thali included a chickpea and yogurt salad (serendipitously enough Seattle Met has the recipe, check it out), one piece of fried zucchini, a mini sandwich whose wee brioche bun came decorated with an edible flower, and some spicy crispies. Dividing the four dishes was a wonderful-looking blob of naan, its surface replete with glistening browned bubbles of flat-bread goodness. Everything was pretty tasty, and that chickpea salad was a standout—it’s almost torturous to get so little of it.

If you are a person who cares about the pair, I suggest drinking wine or beer with your thali instead of a cocktail. I had a Bada bing—maker’s mark, bing cherries, lime, sage, peychaud’s bitters. I love a Sopranoes reference, and this drink was truly stunning to behold, but it didn’t taste quite as lovely as it looked. Bitters can so easily metastizise, from a flavor perspective, and they certainly took over the Bada. The cherries and sage were totally lost. My Poppy pal sampled the Rum Curry and the Six Twenty Two, and felt similarly “meh” about both. Plus the food just fared far better with a glass of white wine.

So there you have it, happy hour at Poppy.

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