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Derby Public House in Scottsdale: Happy Hour Report Card

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The Spot: Derby Public House 4220 Saddle Bag Trail, Scottsdale 480-999-3311 www.derbypublichouse.com

See Also: 5 Best Places for Happy Hour in Scottsdale

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered Monday through Friday from 4 until 7 p.m.

The Interior: Derby Public House's stately brick building might have you expecting to step into a luxe, modern gastropub, but once inside, you'll find a pretty gimmicky olde tyme Brit horse track theme--thus the derby. The clashing bright plaid and argyle patterns all around the bar are a bit of an eyesore, but the small, patio more than makes up for the busyness inside with simple dark wood bench booths that are a roomy and great for people watching. The bar also features a variety of games from giant Connect Four to skiball and Apples to Apples.

The Food: With half off all appetizers (excluding the sampler for some reason), you have a pretty good selection during happy hour with reasonable prices. The fare is mostly modified takes of bar favorites, like chicken wings, jalapeno poppers, and a crab and artichoke dip. Starting off with the fried cucumbers ($3.50), we loved the tempura-like crispy batter, but felt like the dish would've been better with pickles or zucchini instead of the cucumbers, which were kind of bland and got a little soggy in the frying process.

The pigs in a blanket ($4.50) were next up, with Silva's smoked linguica sausage as the star. The pastry to sausage ratio definitely favored the meat, but went well with the dipping sauge, which seemed to be applesauce mixed with Dijon mustard. Finally, we tried out the paleo nachos ($5) with sweet potato chips, chicken, turkey, jalapenos, and guacamole. While we appreciate the effort to cater to fad dieters, the chips buckled and flopped under the weight and juiciness of the meat and other toppings, making them nearly impossible to eat all together. The salsa served on the side was also just bland.

The Drink: Derby generously offers $2 off any and every drink they offer during happy hour, including beer, cocktails, and wine. There are around 15 different specialty cocktails on the menu, most being an homage to a classic. Cocktails like the Derby Bramble, which offers your choice of spirit and includes cinnamon syrup, often end up tasting like a down graded version of the drink they hailed from, rather than offering a modern update. Even the cocktails that had fresh ingredients in them visibly, like the strawberries in the Red Bottom, didn't have that brightness that you'd look for in a craft cocktail. Overall, the drinks were heavy handed on the sweet side with a $10 price tag that just wasn't worth it.

The Conclusion: While Derby offers a lot of options, almost all of them were a little too clever for their own good. We enjoy playful takes on classics, but only if the execution backs it up. Sadly, Derby's wasn't all there for us this time. Plus the service was painfully slow, with the servers seeming to know almost nothing about the dishes and drinks they served.

Grade: C

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