We are in mourning after the SF 49ers lost the Super Bowl. Oh well, life moves on, and luckily the NHL (National Hockey League) came to their senses and resolved their issues with a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners. As long time season ticket holders of the San Jose Sharks, we were initially skeptical about the 48-game season. However, it looks like many of the teams are playing to make every point count, making the shortened season fun to watch, especially when our Sharks opened with a club-record 7 game winning streak. Just not a good weekend for Bay Area sports: the Sharks finally lost their first game this year.
With mostly mediocre food options offered at sky-high prices and beers or 1 oz pours of well drinks nearing $10 in the San Jose Arena (aka the “Tank”), we usually go to one of the downtown San Jose restaurants to fuel us for the game. It’s been reported that the downtown San Jose restaurants were down 40-60% in revenue during the lockout when compared to a normal hockey season; therefore, it’s our duty to make sure that we give them some business. We will occasionally post about pre-game dining and drinking options since, yes, we do know our way to San Jose.
Most games start at 7:30 pm which usually gives us just about 30-45 minutes to drink or grab a bite to eat prior to the game. Luckily for us, many places have Happy Hour specials until around 6:30 or 7 pm, which makes it a great bargain, especially when compared to prices inside the Tank. We recently partook in pre-game festivities at The Grill on the Alley, a Silicon Valley branch of the famed Beverly Hills Steakhouse. There is no alley here, but it is conveniently located in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel, which is about a 15 minute walk from the Tank.
A new Happy Hour item this year is the “Build Your Own Martini” with a choice of premium Vodka (Absolut, Hangar One, Ketel One, Stoli) or Gin (Beefeater, Bombay, Boodle’s, Tanqueray) mixed with Vermouth (Martini & Rossi, Noilly Prat, Vya), and garnished with a cheese stuffed olive (blue or chipotle). We believe that a true Martini is gin-based, so we selected a couple of Beefeater Martinis – one made with Noilly Prat and blue, and the other with Vya and chipotle:
The Martini’s are fairly large – we each drank 2 of these which provided us with just the right attitude adjustment needed from driving through traffic after work. We decided that we like the Beefeater and Vya combination with the hand-stuffed chipotle cheese olives the best:
Their Happy Hour menu features many great bites at relatively reasonable prices. Even at twice the price from last year, their excellent potato skins is still a bargain for $4. The large plate of crispy on the outside but soft on the inside fried spud strips are hearty and filling. Studded with bacon bites, the skins are topped with melted cheese, drizzled sour cream and scallions, making these better than any baked potato (probably because they are fried):
One should expect that a steakhouse would serve excellent burgers and The Grill does not disappoint. The Pepper Bacon Burger is made with certified Angus beef ground fresh daily. It came stuffed with lettuce, onions, tomatoes; and is topped with bacon, melted Tillamook cheddar and thousand island dressing. Served with crispy onion rings, the $9 burger is another excellent bargain. The cross-section shows how perfectly rare the burger is:
We also ordered the Crab Cake Sidekicks which were not really made with crustacean cakes; rather, there was a generous amount of lump crab meat stuffed in the soft slider buns:
It’s good that their Happy Hour ends at 7 pm; otherwise, we would be tempted to stay at the bar and drink more of those Martinis. We were happily “tanked up” as we headed to the Tank to watch the Sharks play some great hockey: