Author: Jonjak, Marti
Date published: March 21, 2012
THE HAPPIEST HOUR
550 12th Ave, 328-2030
Description: Eric Banh, the owner of Monsoon, Monsoon East, and Baguette Box in Fremont, brings us Ba Bar-a restaurant, bar, cafe/espresso stand, pastry emporium, and Kung Fu Karaoke lounge (Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9:30 pm) on 12th where Capitol Hill, First Hill, and the CD converge. Inside, the walls of paned windows establish a giant wide-openness, and the decor is at once spare and stylish-dark wood, glittering candles, and glossy concrete floors, with vintage-industrial light fixtures and exposed metal pipes overhead. The space was once a motorcycle shop, its owner feisty and pompadoured; long before that, it's rumored to have been a Model T dealership with a basement speakeasy. The immediately previous occupant, Watertown, was a coffeehouse with disparate outfitting suggesting a basement rec room. (It's unclear what happened to the Pegasus poster and ping-pong table following the remodel. Probably they're tumbling in unison down some dusty street somewhere.)
Happy hours: Daily 3-7 pm.
Happy-hour drink specials: $3-$5 beer, $4-$5 wine, $6 select cocktails (Moscow mule, old-fashioned, corn 'n' oil).
Happy-hour food specials: Elegant small plates inspired by Vietnamese street food including $5 skewers (shiitake, Carlton Farms pork belly, and more) and $7 grilled halibut collar (with sautéed cabbage and ginger); $4 frites; and Eric Banh's awesome pho for $7 (Painted Hills beef or Draper Valley chicken); and more. Of note on the regular menu: rotisserie Peking duck, Saigon chicken salad, and grilled lemongrass frog legs.