by Mary Belzer
Here at Gut Check International Headquarters, we take happy hour very seriously. Each week, one of our agents covertly visits an establishment, reports her findings and assigns a grade. This week's Happy Hour Report Card -- Barrister's in lovely downtown Clayton.
See also: Riley's Pub: Happy Hour Report Card
The Place: Barrister's (7923 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-726-5007)
The Hours: Happy hour is offered Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. with $2 domestic bottles, $3 wells and $5 appetizers.
The Atmosphere: Barrister's perfectly merges sports bar and fine dining. The interior is clean with updated decor, and the walls are lined with European beer memorabilia and soccer jerseys. With several televisions, Barrister's is the place to catch a televised soccer match. The small outdoor seating area is right on busy Forsyth Boulevard in the heart of downtown Clayton, but the chilly fall weather drew us inside.
The place was filled mostly with the after-work business crowd and the atmosphere was relaxing, but the service left something to be desired. We waited almost half an hour after our beers were empty for our check and by then the place was pretty empty.
The Food:Five-dollar appetizers are quite a steal at Barrister's (normally they cost $7.95 to $10.95). We started with the smoked tomato chipotle hummus. Gut Check knows its way around a bowl of hummus, but this was unlike any we've ever had. The dish had a heavy, smokey flavor that complimented the spice of the chipotle and chile oil perfectly, and it added a heartiness rarely found in a simple appetizer spread. Next, we moved onto the "Hooligan Shrimp," which is a Cajun-style shrimp over a goat-cheese polenta with garlic spinach. The shrimp were perfectly seasoned, but too much of the goat cheese in one bite made the dish a bit too rich and heavy.
The Drinks: The $2 domestic bottle deal excludes craft beers, leaving a limited selection. Barrister's has a great rotating craft-beer selection, and we wish we could have partaken within our happy-hour parameters.
The Conclusion: The food was delicious and by far the best part of Barrister's happy hour. Drinks were cheap, but only a small selection were included in the deal. We'd return for the food and the patio (when the weather permits), but quicker service would have brought us back sooner.
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