Walter Mencken 1 p.m., May 1
Duck At the Park
Great happy hour find down by the ballpark. Dragon’s Den (315 10th Avenue, at K, East Village, 619-358-9332). Right across from the ballpark and the Tilted Kilt. Every time I’d gone past in my stretch limo (the #11), I’d seen this, like, bar in the bottom corner of the Carnation building, but with a patio loaded with comfy chairs and fireplace firepit tables.
Looked so cool. Oh yeah, for the East Village fat cats, I’d say. Bring your c-notes.
The Bud, the fire, the ballpark
But tonight I was heading down 10th on foot, and saw the wipe board signs outside, saying “Happy Hour, 3pm - 7pm, Monday – Saturday.” Dollar off draft beers, $4 wells, $5 house wines."
It also says "Pet friendly. Bring your dog." That's a good move. Everybody in East Village seems to have a dog - or cat - under their arm this time of night.
But the food? Guess curiosity kills the cat. Hope satisfaction brings him back.
So now I’m inside. It’s big, with an island bar, and more stuff behind. Is that a sushi joint back there?
Right opposite Tilted Kilt
I sidle up to the bar. Get the very cheapest beer possible, ’cause I want enough for food, if they have it in happy hour.
James the barkeep swings me a 12-ounce draft Bud Light for $3.
Says, yes, they have HH food. Hands me a menu.
I mean straight off, you could get a California roll, eight pieces for $5. But other interesting stuff goes for $1.50-$2 off the regular price. So three Dragon Balls are down to $4.50 from $6. Crispy egg rolls are $4 for two chicken or four vegetarian rolls. Four panko prawns are $4.5, with lemongrass dipping sauce…
In other words, it’s pretty much Asian. These are all “small bites.” Medium bites include kung pao tofu platter with rice and salad for $7, which sounds a deal. And hey, I see fish and chips for $8. But what catches my attention is the crispy aromatic duck tostadas shell, three of them for $8. I know it’s top HH dollar, but duck? I straight away think Peking Duck.
“Can I eat it out by the fire pit?” I ask James.
“Oh sure. No problem. Just let me go light it. Warm you up out there."
Glad to hear it. Because it’s dusk, and the temps are falling with the sun.
All I can say is yum. Ten minutes later, it’s me, flames flickering through the tall glass. Electric bubbles floating up. Bud never looked so good. And when Julius, who’s the “exposé,” (which is the name of his job, like the guy who brings out the presentation. New to me), brings out the three shells loaded with chopped duck and I don’t know what-all else, I know I’ve found me a doozy.
Duck, beer, fire. is this heaven or what?
“It’s like Peking Duck,” says Michael Lou...
..He's the guy in charge who’s passing by. “Aromatic, crisp, with Hoisin sauce and traditionally in paper thin pancakes. But we’ve gone fusion, and put them in tostadas.”
They come with chopsticks and fork and a nice cream linen napkin, and on a good porcelain long plate. I mean does it matter? Well, it feels good eating happy hour and not having to pull bits of Styrofoam from your teeth.
As night falls, we call in the soy sauce
The duck’s tangy, but with a sweetness to it. The shells fall away like rocket boosters ejected at stage two. The flames are real good warmers, and dang, I decide here and now, this one’s a keeper. Better get back here a few times before baseball season starts.
After that, fuggedit.
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