It was 4pm on a Friday, which is the time of week when it seems that every car in LA is clogging up the freeways, and thus every Angeleno is stuck in their mind-numbing commute home. We certainly expected that to be the case on this particular Friday, and that those of us who weren't stranded in traffic probably wouldn't be eating at a time of day reserved for early bird specials and nursing home residents. We were very wrong, as we completely forgot about happy hour. Happy hour! An invention for more mobile cities, in which residents are meant to pop into their local watering holes on their walk/metro ride home for a beer and some snacks. Not something conducive for begrudged commuters who just want to get the fuck home in under 2 hours. But our trip to the new Sawyer in Silverlake at (let me say it again) 4pm proved that happy hour is alive and well in L.A., if you just know where to look for it.
From Beau Laughlin and partners Brett Cranston and Jay Milliken, Sawyer is a seafood-focused eatery featuring craft cocktails and a beautiful, airy space. With a rustic combination of brick and wood, the white walls, plants, white marble counters, and colorful bar all lend it that cool, modern look that really emphasizes all of the natural light streaming in. Their menu boasts shared plates, a raw bar, and plenty of happy hour options that are clearly bringing in locals and Silverlake-visitors by the droves. While we recommend coming for the seafood and craft cocktails, stay for the modern interpretations of classic dishes, like a light, brothy clam chowder.
For drinks, we decided to go with a few options on and off the happy hour menu (which is available from 4-6 daily). I opted for the St. Agustin, which featured a pleasing combination of Tito's Vodka, Aperol, watermelon, and lemon. The drink was citrus-y, a bit sweet, a bit bitter, and very refreshing. It exuded excellent balance, and honestly I sucked it down in about a minute flat. Definitely a great way to kick off your weekend during Friday happy hour.
Kyle ordered the Old Fashioned off their happy hour menu. He really enjoyed it, and said it was a very classic and well-done old-fashioned.
Since it was almost 5pm (and really, who's keeping track anyways), I decided to really celebrate the weekend and order a second drink, the Seconds Count. And gin and champagne cocktail, it had a very earthy, floral combination of lavender and honey (and I believe that was bee pollen decorating the rim). It was another really nice, refreshing cocktail, and I loved how the femininity of the lavender was tempered by the sourness and acid of the lemon.
Now onto the food! Of course, we had to sample a few bites off their raw menu, ordering 4 of their oysters. The oysters were really fresh and chilled nicely: some of the best I've had of late, actually. They came with a spicy horseradish cocktail sauce that was balanced nicely by a sweet, savory, and icy pickled shallot-cucumber sorbet. All together, they formed a really satisfying little bite.
Though we could've easily ordered the Salt Cod Brandade, Duck Fat Popovers, or Chilled Rock Shrimp & Avocado, we decided it might be nice to get a veggie-centric dish. The garbanzo beans and spinach dish was really nice. The garbanzo beans were a bit crunchy, while the poached egg on top gave the dish a nice creamy element. All together, it was a really solid dish.
One of our favorite dishes of the night, the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich is definitely a stand-out. Made with squid ink bread (hence the black hue), the crab was nice and crunchy, and just the right size. The batter wasn't too thick either, which made it surprisingly light. Light, fluffy, and actually very savory, the bread just melted when you bit into it. The whole sandwich was balanced out nicely with some red cabbage and scallion mayo. We would definitely come back for this-- have a drink, this sandwich, and you're good for the night.
Finally, we got the corn and clam chowder, which was really nice. Instead of swimming in a thick, goopy cream sauce, the dish was re-imagined in a light and flavorful broth. The clam itself added that nice salty, briney element, while the bits of chewy pork really grounded the whole dish. I loved the addition of the cool creme fraiche; the creaminess bridged the gap between this dish and a classic clam chowder, while the cold element balanced out everything nicely. All together, it was a great take on a clam chowder.
Overall, we had a great time at our Sawyer happy hour. Considering it was pretty early in the day, the place was packed, and it's clearly a winning spot for a Friday early-evening drink. Between the cocktails and tasty bites, the whole experience was really satisfying. There are so many other dishes on the menu that we would love to try, and with such a beautiful space and friendly staff, we would be happy to return anytime.