A Tasty & Refined Simplicity at Coronet’s Happy Hour

February 13, 2017
By Tucson Foodie

What makes you happy about a dining experience?

Sampling several different, delicious dishes? Sipping superior adult beverages? Keeping company with your dog? People-watching? Hanging out with your kids? Soaking in a bit of history? Getting a bargain?

All of the above?

Good news. The Coronet’s Happy Hour — or, rather, hours, since the specials run from 4 – 6 p.m. on weekdays and 3 – 6 p.m. on the weekends — lives up to the promise of its name. Culinary delights of all stripes await at this cheerful neighborhood bistro, and at a terrific price.

Indeed, it’s the fact that all of “nibbles and snacks” fall into the $4 or $6 price range that makes it possible — nay, practically obligatory — to try several of them, and share.

Like the Coronet’s other menus, the happy hour bill of fare showcases comfort food that stimulates the taste buds, providing a frisson of adventure without leading you into uncharted culinary territory.

Take the Warm Olives.

Warmed olives at the Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Warmed olives at the Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Far from the chilled tasteless garnish that accompanies martinis and Bloody Marys, these olives are a main attraction, playing second fiddle to no cocktail, puttanesca sauce, or Greek salad. Castelvetranos from Sicily, Cerignolas from Italy’s Puglia region, and Beldis from Morocco are a feast for the senses, ranging in color from bright green to black, in texture from smooth and crisp to soft and wrinkly, in taste from sweet to tangy. Warmed with lemon and subtle spice, they capture the essence of the sunny Mediterranean in a small bowl.

If the simple olive can be raised to an art form, you can imagine to what heights the Coronet’s more complex dishes climb.

The Winter Bruschetta, for example, layers smooth labneh yogurt, garlicky chimichurri verde, and crunchy chopped walnuts atop rustic Barrio bread. Each bite yields an explosion of complementary flavors.

Another standout is the Pâté de Campagne, a buttery blend of pork and chicken liver slivered with kale and dotted with pistachios. It comes accompanied by house-pickled veggies — onions, green beans, and fennel — and pickled grapes, as well as by a dijonnaise that mixes spicy mustard with house-made crème fraîche. You’ve got all your essential food groups here.

These three dishes demonstrate the range of the happy hour menu, which caters to vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike. Along with the olives, Seasoned Fries and Brussels Sprouts in Balsamic are among the vegan friendly picks, while vegetarian options include the Welsh Cheddar Plate and the Walnut Pâté, made with French feta, cumin, tomatoes and potatoes. The Duck Bacon BLT Sliders, a gourmet spin on the sandwich classic, are meat-eater favorites, as are the mini lamb meatballs.

Even the children’s happy hour menu — yes, there’s a children’s happy hour menu — offers choices in all the dietary categories. Among them you’ll find Plain Jane Sliders with Beef, the Fettucine and Butter with Cheese, and a Fruit Bowl.

Pâté de Campagne at the Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Pâté de Campagne at the Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The well-crafted cocktails transcend dietary divisions.

They’re beautifully simple, too. The ingredients of the Vesper, for example, are gin, vodka, and Lillet, while the Old Fashioned captures just the right proportions of bourbon, bitters, and simple syrup.

Not only are you spoiled for choice with food and drink, but the restaurant, set in a converted 1928 hotel, also offers distinctive seating options. Indoors, a fleur-de-lis tiled floor, a 1906 bar, and pendant light fixtures give the intimate dining room a cosmopolitan air. Outdoors, woven-backed wicker chairs, table umbrellas, and a wrought-iron gate — not to mention water bowls set out for dogs and the passing parade of pedestrians on bustling 4th Avenue — evoke a European street scene.

But one key difference between Tucson and most European capitals is that you rarely get a gray day here.

That makes locals happy too.

The Coronet is located at 402 E. 9th St. For more information, call the restaurant at (520) 222-9889 or visit cafecoronet.com.

This paid feature is part of Tucson Foodie’s Promo Package for Restaurants.

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