The Spot: Bonjour Vietnam 202 North Central Avenue 602-252-1223 www.hotelsancarlos.com/dining
The Hours: Happy Hour is offered Monday through Friday until 6 p.m. with drink specials starting at 11 a.m. and food specials starting at 3 p.m.
The Interior: Cut out of a small corner in the front of the historic Hotel San Carlos, Bonjour Vietnam is an injection of modernity in the classic downtown staple. The clean, simple décor is comfortable, chic, and inviting. The patio is perfect this time of year to sit and people watch during happy hour.
The Food: During happy hour, you can get $2 off the spring roll and appetizer options, with the exception of the $5 citronelle edamame, which prices everything around $5 to $8.
We started out with the soup a l'oignon (French onion soup), which came with a mountain of melted cheese, bread, and a quail egg on top. Though the soup itself was tasty, the inch-thick layer of melted Gruyere overpowered everything, especially the delicate little quail egg buried underneath it. We love cheese, but that was just a gut bomb. We also tried out the fried soft shell crab spring rolls or cua chien don. The combination of mango, avocado, lettuce, and crunchy fried crab blends beautifully together for a refreshing summer snack.
The Drink: $5 house wine and $2.75 drafts are good prices for basic drink staples. We were impressed by their $5 Duvel, which is a pretty nice and alcohol-heavy Belgian beer that's normally pricey other places.
We also had to try out a few of the $2 off specialty cocktails, which come out to be around $7, like the Kir Violette -- a combination of champagne and lightly floral crème de violette that makes you feel posh as you sip it. Next up was the Vietnamese Spiced Punch. This spicy cocktail is heavy on the mango, vodka and muddled peppers. The only cocktail that we tried that we wouldn't go back for is the Tea Party because the lime-flavored vodka and lime juice completely drowned out the flavor of the St. Germain and green tea syrup so it just tasted like citrus.
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The Conclusion: The food was delicious and the drinks were tasty and luxurious, for the most part. Unfortunately, we ended up forking over $7 for almost each drink and dish we got, which is more than we're used to spending per item during happy hour. While the pricing will likely keep you from hitting up this happy hour regularly, what Bonjour Vietnam offers will make you want to return again and again.