It’s been almost exactly 6 years since I first experienced happy hour at Morton’s Steakhouse Mandarin Oriental. Every weekday, the bar serves $12 martinis with a free flow of filet mignon finger sandwiches. It is a great place to spend happy hour if you like good martinis and good meat. The drinks are excellent; to say that the martinis give you a bit of a buzz is like saying that grass is a little bit green. As for the steak sandwiches, the meat is medium rare and juicy and the bread is beautifully buttery with a hint of creamy seasoning.
I’ve experienced Morton’s happy hour a couple of ways.
One – everyone has two or three drinks in the course of the two hours, watches the waiters like hawks for the sandwiches (which arrive every 15 – 20 minutes), and no one never quite gets enough food to absorb all the alcohol. We leave the bar completely plastered.
Two – a couple of suits with expense accounts commandeer a table or two, ordering rounds of drinks like it’s going out of fashion. This group typically features a couple of dozen friends and hangers-on, and lays waste to any tray of sandwiches that drifts into its airspace. (This also helps explain why the people in scenario one are left somewhat deprived.)
A couple of Fridays back, I was lucky enough to discover a far more enjoyable alternative.
Jacqui and I had arranged to meet at Morton’s no later than 5.15 pm, as every last seat at both the bars would be snapped up after that. She was running late, so I snagged a little table for two at the smaller bar located within the restaurant – and found myself drinking alone. Gasp.
Since I was already feeling like a bit of a cliche, I did the obvious thing and befriended the waiter. This turned out to be a good strategy for when the filet mignon sandwiches started flowing. Our table was closest to the kitchen so we were served first when each round of sandwiches came by. When he brought the first round, ‘our’ waiter murmured that we should eat fast so that he could bring the serving tray back to us once all the other diners had been served one each. And he was as good as his word! We were served twice each time the sandwiches came around, and had a dozen sandwiches between the two of us 🙂
Because we were both driving, we stopped at one appletini each. And before you condemn me for a cheapskate, scarfing down six free sandwiches with my one drink – we also shared a plate of pacific oysters on the half shell for $36 (or the price of three drinks). The result was that we enjoyed a decadent surf-and-turf snack (which amounted to a light dinner) with our drinks, and emerged from Morton’s feeling pleasantly buzzed instead of drunk as skunks.
And as for the nice waiter, I made sure to leave him a decent tip 😉