Review: Happy Hour at M

  • Photo by Tim Johnson
From the February 14, 2013 edition

I’m guessing you don’t often pop-in to fancy, top-tier restaurants to dine on entrees costing upwards of $30. But how about hitting up one of those exalted eateries for a gorgeous and delicious scallop and short rib ravioli dish that’s less than $10? Or how about some of the best sliders in Columbus (starring wagyu beef) served with an enormous cone of killer handcut fries for less than a greaseball munch at the Golden Arches? Welcome to a reinvented happy hour at M — so new that it’s not yet mentioned on M’s website. Enjoyed only in the light-shifting, cozily dark bar — which conveniently includes tables opposite the bar proper — M’s happy hour reboot runs Monday through Friday, from 5-7 p.m.

The Booze

$5 slurping deals are offered, distributed into trios — as in three choices each of red and white wine pours, “cocktails” and “martinis.” From these, there’s a juicy pinot grigio from the Veneto (Caposaldo, 2011) that’s good enough to make scoffers of this grape (including me) rethink their opinions. On the discounted red side, the popular, perennial “best-buy” Stump Jump shiraz from d’Arenberg is a solid choice. M’s $5 strong stuff sips include nice old fashioneds, greyhounds and tart-sweet, punch-like orange pomelos. Tip: Tanqueray is among M’s “well liquors,” so $5 can also score a no-foolin’-around martini.

The Food

Seven dishes are available under $10 (four are sushi rolls), the king of which is that knockout, entree-worthy Scallop Appetizer ($9).Two huge and beautifully golden brown-crusted scallops topped a plump and lovely handmade raviolo pocketing unctuous, pot-roasty beef. Underneath was a unifying sauce (“sherry jus”) that was tart, salty and richness-cutting — you’ll want to lick that up. Above were wonderful, push-and-pull garnishes of “meaty,” delicately chopped mushrooms and horseradish-y leeks. The huge Surf-N-Turf roll ($8) also efficiently combines beef with seafood. It’s a hot and cold, raw and cooked, creamy and crispy combo — shrimp tempura and cream cheese corralled inside of rice and exterior sheets of carpaccio. Sensational slider-wise (burgers, $6; served with gigantic, boldly seasoned fries), two super-juicy, smokily chargrilled and genuinely steaky-tasting medium-rare juniors (damn thick juniors) were graced with caramelized onions, monterey jack, pickles, mayo and puffy toasted brioche-y buns.