Skeptical Chymist: Happy Hour Report Card
The Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. Every Day
The Details: Wine and beer are $2 off, bringing Irish favorites like Guinness down to $4 and local favorites like Four Peaks Kiltlifter down to $3.25. Well drinks are $1 off. Appetizers - from the Lamb Skewers to the Crab Cakes to the Curry or Garlic Fries - are half off, as are the five selections of Mediterranean-style flat breads.
Skeptical Chymist - together with The Arrogant Butcher - sounds a little like a character out of an Agatha Christie novel: one of 12 suspicious professionals trapped in a secluded mansion, each with a fatal flaw and a secret past. In fact, the pub is named for 17th century Irishman Robert Boyle's seminal work The Sceptical Chymist, for which he is known by many as the father of modern chemistry.
The Chicken Tenders - served with spicy mustard and chipotle hot sauce for dipping - are down to $5 at happy hour.
You'll see that theme continued in the decor: wooden shelves are stacked with apothecary bottles and microscopes. Our server - who fittingly looks like the Irish lass who charmed Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire - notes that these things were not just picked up from a local antique shop and then left undusted for age: Most of what you see in Skeptical Chymist was actually brought over from Ireland.
Oddly enough, the same doesn't appear to apply to the menu. There are some excellent Irish favorites on the entrees list, like the All Day Irish Breakfast, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and Real Lamb Shepherd's Pie, but they are mixed in with Mediterranean, Indian, and American dishes.
The Crispy Cod Sliders, topped with coleslaw and spicy tartar sauce, are also only $5.
Anyone who's seen Gordon Ramsay flip out over an unfocused menu knows this level of variety can be a point of concern. But every dish we chose was prepared with a clear attention to detail: The Chicken Tenders ($4.50, served with spicy mustard and chipotle hot sauce) had a light and crispy outside over moist, white-meat chicken, and even the buns of the Crispy Cod Sliders ($5) had been lightly toasted. It was the Date & Black Pepper Flat Bread ($5), however, that stole the day: Topped with dates, marinated onions, balsamic reduction, and cracked black pepper, this flat bread had just the right combination of sweet and strong flavors.
The Date & Black Pepper Flat Bread ($5) was tasty but incredibly filling; we packed up half for later.
The Interior: If you've ever been the only one at a dive bar in argyle and pearls, you know that trendy Scottsdale clubs don't have a monopoly on making people feel out of place. On a Sunday at happy hour, Skeptical Chymist is an instantly welcoming restaurant: You seat yourself - choosing from a variety of high-tops, tables, and booths - and are soon after welcomed by several staff members. There are plentiful signs with the daily drink specials mixed in with the Irish theme (including the sign you'd expect, "There's nothing like a Guinness."). A large projector screen is showing ESPN, accompanied by the restaurant's soft Irish tunes. Above the bar is a clock counting down to St. Patrick's Day.
The Cost: Two beers, two appetizers, and one flat bread, plus tax, came out to around $22.
The Conclusion: It's hard to avoid a good deal at Skeptical Chymist: As if the daily, three-hour happy hour were not enough, the restaurant also has daily food and drink specials. All beers are $3 on Sundays, Irish Car Bombs are $5 on Fridays, and on Mondays all hamburgers are just $5. Combined with the come-as-you-are atmosphere, hefty portion sizes, and strong flavors, and there's no skepticism about it: This is a great place to spend an evening.
Overall Grade: A
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