A few weeks ago in these pages, we discussed the four Seattle happy hours that provide free food. Herewith, the investigation continues, as one bar responds and another is found to be handing out free meat.
The maiden free-food research voyage involved happy hour at Il Fornaio in Pacific Place. The upshot: While a pleasantly posh (if unmistakably chainy) atmosphere and $3 beer/$4 wine went a long way, the food—soggy squares of pizza and trays of bruschetta that appeared to have undergone a seismic event, all upended and unappetizing—left something to be desired. Yes, yes, beggars/choosers, etc., but: Il Fornaio values my feedback. The manager e-mailed to say precisely that, and, furthermore, that improvements were being undertaken in the areas of "replenishment" (meaning less upendedness) and pizza "display/storage" (meaning less soggy). He also assures would-be happy-hour patrons that they may eat what are possibly the world's best breadsticks—thin, long, Parmesany, crispy—with impunity.
The truly peculiar thing about this deal at Il Fornaio is that no purchase is required. The same is true with the mini filet-mignon sandwiches served at Morton's The Steakhouse's "Power Hour" (Mon–Fri 5–6:30 pm). To the naysayer who declared in online comments, "I HIGHLY DOUBT the bartender is going to let you sit there and eat without paying for anything. Besides, it's a VERY SMALL bar. You can't exactly hid in there and eat free steak," Morton's would like to say: YES YOU CAN, no hid-ing required. The sandwiches are just fine, with squishy sesame buns and meat that is practically cloudlike in its texture, served on a silver tray in a dark-wood-paneled (if faux-old) bar. Celebrities-at-Morton's photos in the hall include Tom Selleck and Muhammad Ali; the barkeep wears a bow tie and vest, and is liable to sing along with the Rat Pack soundtrack (like the photos, required in chain steak houses by law). Beer is $4, wine is $5, and a creditable, deep "Power Hour Vodka Mortini" made with Finlandia will set you back $7. (It must be mentioned that nothing should be named Mortini except a fictional magician.)
If you want free meat, Morton's happy hour is on the right side of worth it. (If you would prefer to pay for your meat, the three-quarter-pound ground-on-site sirloin burger is quite good as well as massive—absolutely big enough for two—for $15. It is not on the menu. It is a secret burger! Get cheese, grilled onions, mushrooms, and bacon—they're all free. Free bacon!)
The remaining free-food happy hours: Oliver's Lounge and the 1970s/medieval-themed basement bar Bernard's, both downtown. Soon, more free-food findings.