More and more restaurants have added happy hours in an effort to draw in customers in a down-down-down economy, but you wouldn't know it, in most cases. After the initial announcement, there's usually no effort to remind customers (or would-be customers) of the bargain prices, and sometimes even the help is unaware.
That's not the case at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza, which offers "Happiest Hours" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily, with half-off tapas, beers and wines. When I called to inquire, an employee recited the info straight away, and when we arrived during the "happiest" window, signs and tent cards provided the information as well.
So, if they're trumpeting it, you might think they're proud of it and want to use it as an opportunity to show their tapas in the best possible light, no? Yes, but that doesn't explain why two of the six tapas we ordered were cold -- lukewarm in one case, but actually cold in the other. That would be the mac and cheese ($5.95 regular price). Made with Tillamook, a good-quality cheese, it had a lot of promise and even looked hot, with browned breadcrumbs on top. But no, it was cold.
And the pan-fried pork dumplings ($6.95 regular price) weren't so hot, either. First of all, they hadn't been fried very well, so there wasn't a characteristic brown side as we would expect from any self-respecting potsticker. Plus they were doughy, and the filling, flavored throughout with an appealing amount of cilantro, was cool. The sweet chili dipping sauce on the side was a nice complement, but no chili would be hot enough to warm these up.
We did fare much better with the other four dishes we shared. Coconut shrimp skewers ($9.95 regular price) were crisp and sweet and balanced quite nicely by the accompanying orange-horseradish sauce, which had just enough zing.
Parmesan-crusted artichokes ($7.95 regular price) were filled with goat cheese, which gave a good bit of character to their inherently mild flavor, and they had a good crispy coating. And they were hot!
Thai chicken satays and steak skewers ($7.95 regular price for each) were actually somewhat similar, both marinated (the latter in a teriyaki), both tender, moist and cooked just enough. The chicken scored a few more points, however, for the peanut-ginger sauce that accompanied it, a definite flavor advantage.
Service throughout was OK, our waitress losing a little interest when she realized we were doing happy-hour dishes, and tut-tut to her. The runners, however, succeeded in bringing our food promptly and clearing dishes the same way.
We went to the Sunset Road location, which has no gaming -- if you care one way or the other about that sort of thing -- and which is one of the few constants in a center that apparently was sited on an elephant burial mound, considering how many empty storefronts it's maintained over the years (and considering that the shopping center across the street seems to do just fine, I'm just sayin'). It's a very pleasant spot, with a patio overlooking the parking lot (but usually a mostly empty parking lot, which helps somehow) for when the weather is cooler than it's been lately, and an interior with lots of gleaming saltillo tile, including on the walls.
All of which makes it -- and the other four Sammy's location in the valley, I'll assume -- a prime spot for happy hour, with prices that ensure a good deal if you're getting ready for dinner, an even better one if you're having it.
But the details should not be overlooked.
Las Vegas Review-Journal reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or e-mail her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.