The Upton: Happy Hour Report Card
The Refresher was one of the hightlights of The Upton's happy hour.
The Hours: Happy Hour is Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m.
Perfect for: Happy Hour for one -- you know, if people actually did that.
Interior: Sitting on The Upton's beautifully renovated, shady patio feels nothing like sitting in Petite Maison, James Porter's beloved French restaurant that filled the same space until last November. But it would be unfair to expect the same feel from this hip, graffiti mural-decorated spot. What is completely fair is expecting the same quality of service and overall positive dining experience we received from Petite Maison, and, unfortunately, we were let down in that regard.
Our server seemed bothered by our presence and tried to rush us out even though there were plenty of open tables both inside and outside -- and we were still well within the restaurant's set happy hour. A different server did bring over a purse stool, which was a nice gesture, about ten minutes before we left. The space sure is pretty, though.
The combination of the olive relish and fig bread in the burrata plate was not for us.
The Food: To cut right to the chase, the food prices during The Upton's happy hour are offensive. After reading through the choices, it seemed like there were plenty of appetizing small plate options to choose from. But when we asked our server about them he said the $4 steamed buns (please note the 's') appetizer came with just one bun and the $6 imported cheese plate came with just one two ounce piece of cheese.
We ended up choosing two steamed buns (a total of $8), which we embarrassingly struggled to split between four people, the Italian burrata ($8) with roasted pepper, olive relish, and fig bread, and the crispy cauliflower ($5) with chimichurri and lemon. The flavors of the steamed buns and the cauliflower were interesting and delicious, but no one could muster the courage to finish the burrata plate. The cheese, peppers, and fig bread worked well together, but the tart, salty, and somewhat bitter olive relish threw everything off.
In the restaurant's defense, we did go against our server's recommendation of ordering the pork pibil tacos. Maybe they were better.
The Uptown Girl was fruity and bright without being overly sweet.
The Drinks: All three of the specialty cocktails we sampled during this happy hour were excellent. The Uptown Girl was smooth, drinkable, and perfect for Arizona's February weather with Spring 44 Vodka, muddled basil and blueberry, lemon juice, and bubbles. The Cure provided a delightful kick to start the weekend with its mix of Pierde Almas Mezcal, Amaro, pineapple juice, and cayenne pepper.
The favorite drink was the aptly named Refresher. The combination cucumber, mint, lime, gin, and Triple Sec isn't the most original, but the freshness of the herbs and citrus and the balance between the ingredients kept us going back for more.
But again, The Upton's pricing hindered this happy hour. While beers were all $5 and glasses of wine ranged from $6 to $8, all of the specialty cocktails were $10.
Conclusion: If The Upton could readjust their happy hour prices a bit, it would be a killer spot for after-work drinks. Even just offering two steamed buns for $7 or taking a dollar or two off the specialty cocktails would help. But because of the lack of deals and the less-than-impressive service, we can't say we'll be recommending The Upton for future happy hours anytime soon.
Don't miss: The Refresher Skip this: The olive relish with the burrata Grade: C
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