Andrew Tonry
by Evan James

Saucebox Happy Hour

214 SW Broadway


Many happy hour patrons are assholes by nature. They want quick service, cheap booze, and lots of food, and in return they'll make frequent hand signals at their waiter and tip roughly eight percent. On our virgin trip to Saucebox's happy hour, I must admit, my dining partner and I did nothing to distinguish ourselves from the assholes. During the first five minutes we decided to eat at one of the veranda tables outside, only to reconsider (after ordering) and relocate inside. In fact, we changed tables twice, and whereas most servers might have turned a frozen shoulder, scowled at us, or slapped our dainty wrists, the Saucebox team kept a sense of humor, and skillfully depressurized the situation with some jokes. Now that's a good happy hour.

I started with a drink--the way I start everything. My beverage called itself Ocean Pacific, a happy hour specialty that sounded like it was created in a psychedelic, tropicalia chemistry lab; something about the word "infused" just makes me feel like I'm drinking science. In any case, Ocean Pacific was a mix of house-infused Tahitian vanilla vodka, passionfruit, lemon, and orange. It came with a beautiful flower in it, making the whole thing seem like an equatorial acid trip gone right. Taste: amazing. Not too fruity, not too boozy. Cocktails generally fall into this $4-7 price range, but the menu also offers $2 bottles of Kirin beer, so you're not lost at sea if you want a cheaper drink.

The happy hour food menu offers an enticing variety of snacks ranging from $1 to $4. A majority of the items incorporate seafood and light vegetables, and the importance of fresh ingredients is taken to heart. The seared salmon in a shiso leaf tasted particularly invigorating, and a crab cake flavored with garlic, sake, and cilantro created complex flavors on my tongue. The little bowl of spicy macadamia nuts packed a rich, addictive flavor. While we couldn't order the whole menu, other tempting items included the shoyu noodle bowl--served with a fish cake--crispy prawns, and the island burger topped with pineapple.

My friend ordered crispy sweet potato spring rolls, a savory number accompanied by a sour lime dipping sauce. Their shredded green papaya salad earned points for exoticism and crunchy texture, but tasted fairly bland. Their tofu hand roll, however, was remarkable--a morsel of ambrosia wrapped in a delicate blanket of nori. Everything I put in my mouth was an aesthetic marvel with a thoughtfully crafted flavor.

The food at Saucebox excels traditional happy hour fare, and while the portions are small (really just reasonably sized), they're prepared so well and presented so prettily that I felt I was getting a bargain for the price. Furthermore, the food, like the service, leaves you feeling refreshed, healthy, and satisfied. So when the time comes to put on your fancy-pants and drink a glass of booze bedecked with a tropical flower, come here; just remember: It's called "Happy Hour"--not "Asshole Hour."