The Spot: Arrowhead Grill, 8280 W. Union Hills Drive, Glendale, 623-566-2224, www.arrowheadgrill.com
The Hours: Happy Hour is offered from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
The Interior: Happy hour is held in the lounge, a dark and cozy spot furnished with tall cafe tables and chairs and a small rectangular bar with a sleek, mirrored back bar. A wall outfitted with waterfall windows separates the entry from the lounge, lending the sort of upscale touch that brings corporate steakhouses to mind. That's not surprising when you know that Arrowhead Grill's chef-owner is Charles Schwerd, who worked for Mastro's Steakhouse and Mastro's City Hall Steakhouse for years. Don't imagine for a second, however, that AG emulates the well-hello-there-stranger vibe of those popular meat-markets. Arrowhead is quiet and comfy, a watering hole for middle-aged couples and retirees looking for an inexpensive night out, not a hook-up.
The Food: During happy hour, an extensive bar menu features AG Bar Favorites (snacky finger foods mostly) at half off, burgers and sliders at $3 off and a handful of Bar Classics (small entrees) marked down $2-$4, while the regularly priced remaining entrees range from $13-$29.
I love that deviled eggs can be ordered individually -- 50 cents for the spicy, surprisingly good garden variety, 75 cents for an ultra-mustardy version topped with crab.
Given my recent exposure to the wonderfully chewy house-made pretzels at Brat Haus in Scottsdale, it's pretty hard to work up much enthusiasm for the fluffy pretzel rolls here -- flecked with coarse salt and certainly decent -- served with cheese fondue ($2.50). But for the price, who can complain?
What, we wondered, was a "pig wing"? The server who delivered it from the kitchen called it a "pork shank," but he must know, but it seemed a bit small for that. In any case, it vaguely resembled a skinny wing, and its porky tenderness -- offset by a side of spicy hush-hush sauce -- provided variety on a beef-heavy menu. But the more expensive the selection, the less satisfied I seem to become. I can think of a half dozen burgers I'd rather have for 12 bucks (or less!) than the AG Burger -- a half-pounder topped with mayo, Swiss cheese, fried onions and shaves of prime rib. Eh. Sounds way more interesting than it is.
Ditto for a trio of sloppily presented tenderloin sliders, each bun toothpick-poked with pickle and green olive. Granted, they're a measly six bucks during happy hour, but the price doesn't preclude the question: Where's the beef?
And forget the trio of french fries, offered with three dips. The cute presentation can't disguise the facts: they came from a freezer bag and they're sodden with grease. $6.99 for THIS?? You must be kidding.
"Steak sashimi" -- which translates to lightly seared steak slices, splayed over wasabi mashed potatoes and sided with pickled ginger (presumably to keep the sushi theme going) shows up somewhere between medium and well-done when we ordered medium-rare. Our bartender-server (a friendly, super-efficient guy who's clearly worked his share of high-end restaurants) apologizes and removes it without a fuss, replacing it minutes later with a properly cooked order. It's good, not thrilling but still a value for a $13 steak-and-spud dinner.
The Drink: During happy hour, beers and selected wines by the glass are half off, while specialty and classic cocktails cost $5. It's surely here, not the food, where the best bargains lie.
The Conclusion: It's hard to draw a bead on value here. Some dishes are priced right, while others seem like a rip-off. Seven bucks for unbelievably crappy fries is pretty hard to swallow. And frankly, even the value-priced dishes aren't really all that memorable. Bottom line: this happy hour got me full but didn't make me very happy.
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