Happy hour is one of life's simple pleasures. Taking the edge off a hectic work day with some drinks, light food and bar-side conversation makes happy hour truly happy if the bar has something to offer that sets it apart from the rest. Some places merely trot out a few cheap beer or wine selections for happy hour, but Beast + Barrel does it right. Every day, from 3 to 6 p.m., the North Shore restaurant offers a four-tiered menu of diverse food and drink served at modest prices. Most days, the bar is seated near full capacity, but there are plenty of tables nearby.
Beast + Barrel opened five years ago in the former Northshore Grille space on Frazier Avenue. The casual restaurant features a rustic bar area adorned with coffered ceiling, pendant lights and exposed brick walls. It's a great place to decompress and people watch, as pedestrian and automobile traffic alike constantly pass by the restaurant's front wall of windows.
New American-style fare is what you get at this gastropub. The lunch and dinner menus offer a good selection of inventively prepared burgers, chops and seafood, some variations of which are available on B+B's happy hour menu. The restaurant boasts around a dozen regional craft beers on tap with offerings from local breweries including Odd Story, Wanderlinger and the Terminal, as well as a respectable array of wines, house specialties and cocktails.
During happy hour, $3.50-$6.50 gets you both low- and high-gravity Tennessee-made draught beers, classic cocktails, pork and cheese fries, the Kail Caesar! salad, a pulled-pork sammy and the rotating bar snack of the day among other choices.
I started this visit with a Sue Nitro smoked porter draught ($3.50) from Nashville-based Yazoo Brewing Co. Yazoo uses barley malts smoked with cherrywood to make it, which gives this brew a rich, full-bodied flavor. It was sufficiently good enough that, naturally, I had to have another.
A trio of B+B specialties stood out on the happy hour menu, so I opted for the Bahn Mi pulled-pork tacos ($3.50), seasonal hummus plate ($5.50) and the local beef sliders ($6.50).
The two tacos, which consisted of pulled pork, Korean barbecue sauce, cilantro and pickled onion, were a bit small and kind of messy, but had great flavor. A good complement to the brew and not too heavy.
As for the hummus, the 3.5-inch dollop was flavorful with bits of fresh parsley throughout. It's served with pita wedges, crostini and cucumber slices. Another plate on the lighter side that would pair well with one of B+B's featured white wines, which were also on special during happy hour.
The local beef sliders, served medium-well on a grilled bun with crispy shoestring fries on the side, were dressed with a dab of horseradish and thinly sliced sweet pickles. Perfect. The only thing that would improve this is if they gave you three or four instead of two, but a great bar dish for the price.
Mitch, the bartender, stayed on top of the busy bar's orders and was pleasant to chat with. He expertly poured the draught beers I ordered and got the food out at correct temperatures with very little wait time.
If you go
>› Where: Beast + Barrel, 16 Frazier Ave.
› Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. Monday-Sunday
› Price range: $3.50-$6.50
› Alcohol: Yes
› Phone: 423-805-4599
› Website: beastandbarrel.com
Beast + Barrel exudes a casual coolness that beckons when the stresses of the day reach their peak and you're ready to put them away. When that happens, stop by this North Shore staple for some tasty libations and a bite. Highly recommended.
Contact Chris Zelk at firstname.lastname@example.org.