Compass Lounge: Happy Hour Report Card
Tourists and natives agree: This is one spectacular view. It's paired here with the Sweet Tart, one of the $7 cocktail specials at Compass.
The Hours: 9 to 11 p.m. daily
The Details: This nightly reverse happy hour features $5 house wine (Merlot, Chardonnay, or Cabernet), $5 well drinks, a nightly cocktail special for $7, and a dessert special for only $5. On a recent Saturday night, the cocktail is the Sweet Tart (Van Gogh Grape, cranberry juice, lemonade, and Sierra Mist) and the dessert is the Molten Chocolate Cake (with vanilla ice cream and Chili de Arbol sugar), both $2 off their usual prices. The website lists the happy hour as only available in the lounge, but a hostess told me that it's available throughout the restaurant -- and the Compass Restaurant is one of those places where it's impossible to get a bad table.
The Bourbon Bread Pudding: Brandy Snap, roasted apples, dulce de leche sauce, and Crow's Dairy butter pecan ice cream ($7).
The Interior: It's all about the view at Compass -- so much so that even the elevator that takes you to the top is an award-winning experience. This slowly spinning restaurant (after a bet, we clocked one rotation at about an hour, with the loser buying drinks) on top of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix is a classic attraction for tourists and locals alike, providing expansive views of the city's twinkling lights.
The signature Southwest tiramisu: ancho chile tiramisu, Ibarra and vanilla Sauce ($7).
As the restaurant turns, you'll be treated to gold-plated fun facts on the window beams: We're about halfway through our drinks when we learn that Compass opened in 1976 as a Playboy Bunny lounge, converting to a restaurant three years later. The décor is all warm oranges and patterns, creating a nice contrast against the dark night sky, and the seating is very comfortable -- perfect for sitting back and enjoying the ride.
The molten chocolate cake is the sweet deal of the evening at $5 (regularly $7).
The Cost: Two cocktail specials and a dessert to share add up to $19 before tip and tax -- only $15 if you go for wine instead (note: 18 percent gratuity is added automatically for parties of six or more).
Maybe it's that Titanic 3D is still in theaters, but when someone asks the restaurant's top speed, it's hard not to imagine a persuadable captain in search of a headline announcing, "Take her to sky, Mr. Murdoch. Let's stretch her legs."
The Conclusion: The central location of Compass Restaurant -- just steps away from both Symphony Hall and the Herberger Theater -- makes it ideally suited to post-event lounging. Add that to a daily schedule that doesn't shun the more popular weekend nights -- plus an incredible view -- and there's a lot to recommend this downtown reverse happy hour. Put too much stock in what comes to the table, though, and you may be disappointed: While every dessert was beautifully plated, there was a general blandness to the molten chocolate cake (like a disemboweled Hostess cupcake) that even its pretty presentation couldn't mask. The cocktail prices run high (remember the view?), but based on the table's experience with the Sweet Tart on special, the alcohol content seems to run low. Try the wine instead; the Merlot was a rich surprise.
Overall Grade: B
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