Happy Hour Tapas at Johnny V's

Move over, dinner: Happy hour is coming through. That magical few hours -- usually from 5 to 7 p.m. -- is a great way to get your post-work liquid intake. But at quite a few places, it's also a great way to taste some dishes from the kitchen on the cheap. Take Johnny V's' new $5 tapas happy hour, running from 5 to 7 weeknights. Not only does the upscale Las Olas eatery offer two-for-one beers, cocktails, and wines by the glass; it also throws down a small but interesting array of small plates, each priced at a single Lincoln. I went last night to check out the menu and ended up sampling each of the five tapas plates on offer.

We started with a cheese plate culled from the restaurant's larger tapas sharing platter,

a spread of Manchego and semi-firm, wine-soaked goat cheese; red hot

cherry tomatoes halved and coated with a sriracha-based hot sauce;

garlic marinated olives and half-dollar-sized rounds of crispy bread on

which to assemble. Pretty standard "cheese and" plate, but the zingy

tomatoes offered a nice, piquant counterpoint to the creamy cheese. A

trio of croquetas were the size of a fat thumb, coated with a crackly

layer of panko and filled with a slick and buttery mash of potatoes.

Some of the pieces had more flavor than others: mine was teeming with

tiny bits of bacon and what tasted like sage, while my companions'

croquetas were nearly just potato.

A blue-corn-shelled fried

fish taco housed a wedge of flaky, battered snapper, moistened with a

dollop of crema and a rustic salsa of onion and mango. Good stuff, all

told, though I found the blue corn shells to be a touch on the aged

side. Another plate featured bits of tenderloin "tips" in a deep sauce

tinged with Worchestershire and dotted with kernels of sweet corn, with

a grilled and rolled-up flour tortilla jutting out of the mixture like

a flag. The tortilla was tasty enough, but the tips tasted more like

sirloin than tenderloin, and the stewish sauce lacked the heartiness or

depth to eclipse the starch.

The final plate -- another DIY

crustini spread with marinated portobellos, balsamic cherry tomatoes,

and creamy goat cheese spread -- was just fine, though a bit too similar

a selection to the cheese plate. Something meatier might have been

better in its place. To go with our tapas: a fruity, crisp class of

Vouvray Chenin Blanc, another glass of pinot noir whose name escapes

me, and an interesting cocktail made with tequila, Cointreau, and just

a light spritz of lime juice -- something like a refreshing "margarita

light." Each beverage was potent enough to qualify for solid happy-hour

fare. Final bill: $66 for three hungry, thirsty people. Not bad,

Johnny.

Johnny V's
625 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
954-761-7920
johnnyvlasolas.com      

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