Houston's premier gathering spot
The happiest hours: The Tasting Room at Uptown Park offers up all-day deals for elation and then some
The Tasting Room at Uptown Park's "happy hour" could be more accurately referred to as "seven hours of elation." How else to describe the 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. window of discounted drinking opportunities for those in need of $5 wine and beer specials — and who doesn't need that?
Mix in their selection of small plates available after 5 p.m., like the Barcelona salad with apples, walnuts and Manchego cheese all tossed in a sherry vinaigrette for the same price of $5, or the refreshing and piquant green papaya salad with cashews, cherry tomatoes, firecracker shrimp and a tongue-prickling lime-tamarind dressing and the decision on where to head for after-work libations is settled.
Of course The Tasting Room has more standard beer- and wine-accompanying foods if preferred, though just like the lunch selections, nothing on the menu is standard in preparation.
A plate of small-batch, bakery-made Slow Dough pretzels comes not with the token mustard as one might expect, but with a house-made chili con queso blanco full of oomph and umami. The eggrolls are nothing like the kind sitting under those miserable heat lamps at Chinese buffets, but are filled with a tender duck confit and avocado and served with a house-made gooseberry sauce.
Just as those duck confit eggrolls will disappear in record time, sadly nothing lasts forever. Those seven hours of elation — including one sublime hour between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. when the wine and beer specials overlap with the small plate offerings — do have to end at some point. But picking up the slack is live music starting at 6 p.m. on any given evening. Filling the open, 7,600-square-foot space in the casual interior of The Tasting Room are the sounds of soft acoustics, Spanish guitar or jazz.
With the mood already lifted by a little wine and some live music, the weekday crowds of business people, young professionals and even visitors to Houston (like Cuba Gooding, Jr., who recently made an appearance) can find seating in a variety of locations. The large tables can host small groups or larger ones for after work bonding or team-building over sips of wine, while the booths provide a more intimate space for quiet gossip between friends or a mid-week, early evening date where a little cozy arm-around-the-shoulder action just feels right.
Of course, when the weather is just right, there's always the extensive outdoor seating areas for al fresco dining and general lounging after a hard day spent under the harsh, florescent lighting of the office.
Between seven hours of elation elicited from $5 beer and wine specials, one sublime hour where the happy hour pricing and small plate offerings converge, plenty of space for groups or individuals to lounge comfortably, daily live music and some of the best hospitality in Texas, The Tasting Room at Uptown Park is practically an after-work headquarters.
Linger long enough to forget the last email sent, or the report sitting on the desk, or the meeting tomorrow morning. It'll be just enough time to remind you to slow down and notice that life isn't always about work; it's sometimes about snuggling in a quiet, low-lit booth with your loved one on a Wednesday night, discussing everyday things like weather and traffic, sharing a bottle of South African shiraz and remembering that the needs of the office can wait until tomorrow morning.