Sunday, March 05, 2006


McCormick & Schmicks

My husband and I met some of his work colleagues at McCormick and Schmicks for Happy Hour Thursday, 3/2. What I experienced warrants a review.

Layout = B+

Lots of parking really close by. This is a must in the Southside Works area, where you can end up circling for hours. But here there is a parking garage right across the street. Which we really appreciated as it was pouring down snow!

I like the lighting and ambience of this restaurant. It's very "New York Steakhouse" with a little Art Deco thrown in. It's spacious without seeming huge. The dark wood is inviting, the booths look cozy and intimate, and the lighting is just right, low without seeming "sudden power outage".

Like Six Penn Kitchen, McCormick’s has coat racks, except here they are placed above each booth. So no accidental bumping, yay!

We hung out in the bar which is long and roomy, with not only barstools along the bar, but little bar tables around and high stools lining the windows so you could conceivably sit and look out at the chi-chi shoppers strutting around Southside Works. Call me shallow, but I like it when a bar has lots of glass and wood and mirrors, where you can see the bottles lined up high like little soldiers. It makes you think, "Aaaah, the possibilities!"

It was crowded, which isn't a complaint by any means, it's Happy Hour on a Thursday for chrissakes. However, we were tucked in to the extreme right corner of the bar, and behind us was a very unfortunately-placed plant. Until the bar emptied out somewhat, we kept bumping into it. Also, the plant caused the guy sitting behind us at the window-lined seats I mentioned, to keep bumping into this plant.

Also, the path to the bathrooms cuts right into the path out of the kitchen. I bumped into waiters twice. They were rushing out of the open-air kitchen just as I was "crossing the street" to go to the restroom. The way it's laid out, a major collision almost seems imminent.

Service = A

Our drinks were brought quickly with a smile. The food was delivered the same way. I was particularly impressed when the waitress attempted to pour our martinis while balancing them on her tray. Even though she wasn't successful (it was way too crowded for such theatrics) the effort was a nice touch. We ended up moving, but she found us in the crowd no problem. I asked if I could hang my coat in the dining area, and this wasn’t fine with them, even though I was just there for drinks.

I like the way the wait staff is dressed as well. Again, very steakhouse, with white shirts and ties, long aprons, etc. It made for a crisp, professional appearance.

No minuses here to speak of. Once we moved, we had to wait some placing our orders with the bartender, but it was crowded, so no real complaints.

Food = A+

Wowie wow wow! McCormick and Scmick’s has an awesome Happy Hour menu. Usually when we go out for drinks and food, your options are pretty limited. Chicken wings, fried mozzerella sticks, french fries, fried, fried, and more fried. Or it’s a buffet that is touted as top-of-the-line or “Free! Free! Free!” and just sits there because it looks tepid, boring “leftovery”, and like it’s been sitting there for hours.

Here, everything is fresh, and everything is $1.95. You can get a ½-pound burger for $1.95. That seemed a little daunting for us, so we ordered the Baja Fish Tacos, Buffalo Chicken Wings, and Parmesan Fried Zucchini. Okay, okay yeah, there are wings and fried stuff, but these were YUMMY. The zucchini had been peeled into long, thin strips, and the breading was mixed with parmesan cheese. Really good. I didn’t have the wings, but “the colleagues” gave them a thumbs up.

And then there were the fish tacos. This was not run-of-the-mill, quickly-thrown-together bar food, but real food, like something you would order off the menu and actually sit down to eat. The fish was I think mahi-mahi or tilapia. Anyway, it was flaky, flavorful, and mixed with fresh tomatoes, some kind of slaw and wrapped in crispy breading that was easy to eat standing up in a bar at Happy Hour. Truthfully, I was not expecting something this good, and so was very pleasantly surprised and grabbed the second taco from my husband before he could eat it all. Hell, he could order two more, they’re only $1.95, right? That’s right, you get two huge, delicious fish tacos for $1.95.

Minor stuff. Since three of us ordered martinis, they brought the shaker so we could refill our glasses. And we would need to because the martini glasses were on the small side. Fine right? Well, no. Any martini-drinkin’ fool knows that a martini sitting in a shaker is going to get watery, so we found ourselves chugging our drinks so we wouldn’t end up drinking watered-down gin later on. But all in all, they were acceptable, and served with three olives. My way. A little meal with your drink.

Overall Grade = A

I thought this place was great for Happy Hour, and the experience I had makes me want to come back and try it for dinner. Husband and I have already made plans to meet up here right after work so we can try out the rest of the bar menu. At $1.95, we can’t go wrong. Maybe next time we’ll tackle that burger.

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