Above: Steamed buns—Vietnamese meatball, spring pea falafel, and General Tsao chicken.
By Wini Moranville
With half-price pizza, wine and draft beers from 3 to 6 p.m., chef Nic Gonwa of Eatery A has long snagged the early diner’s affections. This past spring, chef Joe Tripp at sister restaurant Harbinger introduced his happy hour menu. Together, the two chefs are, in my view, the kingpins of this city’s late afternoon/early evening sips-and-bites scene.
Tripp says he plans to change the menu frequently. “Expect lots of hands-on snacks, like pork rinds dusted with maple-sriracha powder, heritage chicken legs with kohlrabi slaw, and always some sort of homemade dumpling.”
On my visit, the menu offered wild onion pancakes, blue crab and avocado toast, pork confit eggrolls, steamed buns, tapioca and pecorino fritters, as well as the aforementioned pork rinds and homemade dumplings (both astoundingly good, by the way). Each item was priced at $5, except the steamed buns, which hardly broke the bank at three for $7. They were so tasty they made us giddy with gratitude.
While you could probably make a meal of these delights, I’ll be enjoying them the way Venetians enjoy cicchetti and Spaniards savor tapas—as light snacks to go with that ease-you-out-of-the-workday sip—a “meet for drinks and see what happens next” kind of occasion.
Regarding that mood-lightening sip, front-of-the-house manager Rae Doyle says, “We always offer a white, pink, red and sparkling, and the wines will change occasionally.” The light, fresh, perfect-for-summer sauvignon blanc/colombard blend from the Côtes de Gascogne was about as pleasurable you’ll ever get for $5 a glass.
One $5 cocktail feature is also offered. This, too, will change often. “We try to always match the mood of the day—cool and refreshing when it’s hot and sunny, warming and whiskey-based on a dreary day,” Doyle says. Indeed, the cucumber-mint gimlet on the 90-degree afternoon of our visit more than hit its mark.
The happy hour menu is served every day from 4 to 6 p.m. Harbinger is at 2724 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-244-1314;harbingerdsm.com.
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