I've been hearing about the happy hour deal at the Kinzie Chophouse
, 400 N. Wells St., for awhile—and I'm all for a happy hour (or three), so last week I decided to go check it out.
Happy hours are hard—most actually start before the masses leave work, running around 4 until 7 p.m. or so, meaning you have to hurry in order to get a drink for a deal. However, Kinzie's starts at 3 p.m.—way early—and only goes until six, so you really have to hurry (or quit your job, but despite how alluring that calamari looks, that's not always your best economic decision).
Still, I have more time on my hands these days than most, so I headed over at 4:30 p.m. and waited for my friends to trickle in after five. (Apparently, they were doing something loosely referred to as "working.")
The drinks weren't such a cheap thrill. The discounted martinis were $8.50 and up, which, with the abundance of $5 martini nights in this city, isn't what I consider a particularly everything-must-go martini. The food was inexpensive at $2.95 for a variety of appetizers, but you had to order a drink in order to get the appetizer bargain.
While sipping my just-okay cosmo and trying not to look loser-ish by text messaging while waiting for my friends to come (and then, when still waiting, by fake texting pretend friends and fake laughing at their fake responses), I debated what to order. A quarter-pounder with cheese? Caesar salad?
My group finally arrived and we were quickly able to nab a fourth chair for our table; oddly enough the Kinzie Chophouse happy hour crowd seems to blow in and out in big waves. Around 5:15 p.m., it lessened; by six, it was again packed.
We ordered up some glasses of wine (no discount, but decently priced with some varieties costing less than the martinis), a quesadilla and calamari. Portions were smallish (I expected more calamari) to decent (although it's hard to gimp someone on a quesadilla, I'd think) and the food quality was good. (Though again, aside from inserting human tissue inside, it's kind of hard to ruin a quesadilla, too).
My problem with the menu was that for a happy hour, I wanted more variety. Many of the items, while I'm sure tasty, seemed hard to share (French onion soup?) or, at least, hard to share with a lot of cutting and small plates. Something about happy hour says, "Let's all drink and dig into some snacks!" (The bar did offer veggies and dip, but that didn't excite any of us.)
I will say this: Though the service was slow at first, it picked up, and I did notice the staff going around just before six to get some last happy hour orders in, which was nice. Also the happy hour is daily, so you don't have to plan your week around it. And it's a steakhouse, so maybe it's unfair of me to expect less highbrow food or dirt-cheap drinks.
That said, I didn't feel like I got a huge bargain. When I left, I was still kinda hungry, and I was out of cash. But next week? FULL of happier hours, I'm sure. Or, at least, more drinking.
Want to check out the Kinzie Chophouse happy hour deal for yourself? Visit 400 N. Wells St. from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays or check out www.kinziechophouse.com for more details.
Erin Brereton is our resident urban cowgirl on a bi-weekly search for life on the cheap. If you know of the mythic happy hour that she missed, do clue her in.