When approaching a restaurant to review, I try my best to sample items that are signature dishes or unique dishes, which can sometimes cause some oversight of a more traditional item done well. To address this, I’ve decided to occasionally approach a restaurant with a more narrowed focus to hone in more on a lunch menu (as I did with T. Murray’s) or a small plate menu (as I did with de-NOVO). When I decided my next stop would feature the Hubbard Grille, I immediately knew that I’d be reviewing the most important meal of the day… happy hour.
During Happy Hour at Hubbard, the cocktail menu price gets slashed in half to $5 for all specialty cocktails. I tried the Honey Strawberry Lemonade (Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Bourbon, muddled strawberries and lemonade) and Citrus Bliss (Watershed Gin, Grand Marnier, simple syrup and fresh squeezed lime juice). Both are sweet, fruity summery cocktails which contrast quite a bit from the prohibition revival trend that many other bars are adapting. The Citrus Bliss almost resembled a margarita with its dominant sour flavors, and Watershed’s four peel gin complimented it nicely with additional citrus notes. The Strawberry Lemonade was refreshing though I found the Bourbon’s sweet aftertaste to almost be a bit too much. Regardless, sampling the cocktail menu was an enjoyable choice at half price, and even more enjoyable in the sun on the small Hubbard side patio.
The half-off happy hour pricing also extends to the appetizers menu, which Hubbard refers to as “shares” since they’re large enough to split with a friend or two. The Short Ribs & Shrimp (half price at $6.50) includes three small servings of white cheddar grits topped with a sautéed shrimp, pulled beef short rib and a tomato jus. Shrimp and grits is a delicious southern dish that sounds easily enhanceable with the addition of short ribs. The flavors of those three ingredients were all perfect, the grits were creamy and the beef was tender and juicy, but the tomato jus was just not up to snuff. The menu described it as spicy, but it came across like a flat Chef Boyardee sauce. With some slight tweaking to that sauce, this dish would be a sure fire home run, especially for the low price of $6.50.
A staple on the Hubbard menu since opening in 2010 is their House Made Corn Bread (half price at $3.00). Another southern standby, this cornbread is served in a cute ceramic dish accompanied by two pats of lavender-infused butter. The corn bread arrives piping hot, freshly out of the oven, so the butter has little trouble melting when applied generously. The lavender flavor is applied heavily, so I found that a little bit goes a long way. The cornbread itself is pretty straightforward, which isn’t a bad thing for only $3. By its nature, cornbread is always a little on the dry side, so I found that this dish works best if you pair it with another item that has some sort of sauce that you can dip it in.
The Three Cheese Spinach Dip (half price at $4.50) includes a single serving dish of roasted spinach and artichokes topped with a melted blend of provolone, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. The dip is scooped up with house-made tortilla chips. I found the chips to be closer in flavor and texture to pita chips, which worked well with the dip. Once again, no big surprises here with this dish. If you like spinach dip, you’ll like this appetizer.
The happy hour menu offered at Hubbard may not impress the hardcore foodie inside of you, but is certainly a worthwhile nosh for the affordable price attached. The restaurant is beautiful, service is friendly, food is comforting and drinks are fun.
Happy Hour at Hubbard runs Tuesday through Friday from 4pm to 7pm. More information can be found at www.hubbardgrille.com.
Photos by Jennifer René of Jennifer René Photography.