The Place: Bar210, 9876 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, (310) 887-6000.
The Hours: Thursdays and Fridays, 7 to 10:30pm
The Deals: Half off beer, wine, well drinks and food.*
The Digs: Vegas nightclub management company, Diabolical Nightlife Associates, owns this new bar/lounge, which took over the space Trader Vic's had occupied at the Beverly Hilton for over 50 years. The Santa Monica Boulevard entrance is now decorated with large candle pillars with battery-operated wicks. Inside is a dark space lit by more faux candles, overhead spotlights and a chandelier of gold strings. Move past the hostess stand and take a seat at one of the three four-tops, a long communal table, the bar or in a Lakers lover's dream lounge of plush purple couches and gold walls. Hard to tell what the "usual" clientele is during happy hour, since on the night we went, the only other people in the bar besides the waitresses in clingy sparkly dresses were friends of the chef. We did notice one guy sporting a Hell's Angels vest with a pork pie hat, though, if you want to decipher that dress code.
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The Verdict: We knew this was not the usual happy hour when the hostess/server greeted us by asking if we had reservations. For happy hour. She wasn't snooty about it. In fact she was very nice, but she did seem new as she repeatedly referred to her notes, marked up with pink highlights, whenever we asked a question.
Still, despite what we had heard about featured specialty cocktails and $5 beer and wine for a happy hour that was publicized to have started last month, the server insisted the only specials available were half off well drinks and beers like MGD, Amstel Light and Heineken. And that they didn't have a specialty cocktail menu at all. Regardless of getting 50 percent off, we still found the discounted drinks pricey. A weak cocktail of Maker's Mark and ginger ale was $7. However, Top Chef alum Marcel Vigneron's dishes, like the Cobb Wrap aka Cobb salad sushi, were inventive and fun. The regular prices ranged from $8 for potatoes to $15 for Vadouvan lamb. And although the trio of short rib sliders was a semi-satisfying small plate to split, the three Kusshi oysters left us wanting. Our hunger was aggravated by the fact that as we waited for our food, the staff brought us three dishes that we didn't order, including a tuna pizza, and left them at our table for a good 10 minutes until someone finally realized their mistake and took the dishes away. Things were made even more comical by the loud clubby music blaring over the speakers in this nearly empty room. If the chef's two tables of friends hadn't been there, we would have had the whole place to ourselves. Chair dancing alone! With pricey sub-par drinks, inept service and no crowd, it's hard to justify trekking to Beverly Hills for this happy hour.
Overall Grade: D
* The new happy hour, which was said to have started in April, is supposed to be $5 beer and wine, $7 specialty cocktails and half-off shared plates.