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Happy's Bar + Kitchen Gets Mixed Reviews

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Michael Schlow opened Happy’s Bar and Kitchen in May, adding to his growing restaurant family that already comprises Radius, Via Matta, Alta Strada, and Tico. With a kitschy atmosphere akin to a ‘50s diner and quality “home cookin’” at lower prices, Happy’s is a departure from Schlow’s more upscale joints. The menu ranges from a one-pound meatball, to a TV dinner du jour (that’s served on a compartmentalized plate), to salmon and tuna sashimi. It also has plenty of specials that include $2.50 PBR all day, every day, and all-you-can-eat fried chicken on Mondays. Here’s what the diners and critics have had to say about Happy’s:

The Schizophrenic Food News: The Globe’s Devra First was unimpressed with Happy’s attempts at being (uh-oh) happy, and its menu’s lack of cohesiveness: “Cheer can’t be forced. Nor can greatness? the food at Happy’s is all over the place, both in concept and execution. One minute you’re in a deli, eating ‘Grandma’s “Extra Special” Matzoh Ball Soup.’ Unfortunately, it seems Grandma forgot to teach the cooks how to make the matzoh balls; they are raw inside. The next course might find you in an upscale bistro, with a bowl of Portuguese fisherman’s stew, ruined by a tomato base that tastes like spaghetti sauce.” [BG]

The Better Than Expected News: A reviewer at Open Table thought he or she was in for a night of mediocre bar food but was pleasantly surprised when that wasn’t the case: “From the decor and appearance, I expected Happy's to be a casual, bar-food type of place...But the food was several steps above that. Our meals were thoughtfully prepared and served with care. The steak was excellent, tender, served with a delicious jus. The herb-roasted chicken was moist and flavorful.” [OT]

The Food Purgatory News: For Robert Nadeau of the Boston Phoenix, the food doesn’t quite accomplish a harmonious combination of roadside diner and fancy bistro; it floats somewhere in the middle, producing unsatisfying results: “We start with breakfast, and my report on ‘soft poached eggs with spicy duck and green chile hash, crispy English muffin, and chipotle hollandaise’ ($11) is that this particular collision of chefly thinking and diner ideals was initially kind of a train wreck. The hash was greasy and salty (as it should be) with chopped green chilies standing in nicely for black pepper. But the poached eggs were nearly as hard as hard-boiled (easy to fix), the hints of hollandaise (no chipotle bite on my morning) only somewhat made up for the lack of the anticipated gooey egg-yolk-hash combo, and the muffin was just like everywhere else.” [BP]

The Trying Too Hard News: One Yelper was underwhelmed with his dining experience at Happy’s, and found its down-home vibe a bit forced: “This place just seems like more gimmick than anything else. It's trying really hard to have this comfort food vibe, but it doesn't seem genuine. The food was OK, but certainly not worth the outrageous prices. I could have gone to Island Creek Oyster Bar for what I paid at Happy's, and if I want comfort food, I'm not looking to spend that money. I think the drinks were like $13 each...get over yourself.” [Yelp]

The Stew News: STUFF’s MC Slim JB enjoyed his meal at Happy’s, and the Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew was a highlight: “[The stew] ($21.49) boasts a perfectly cooked oblong of pristine cod fillet, a half-dozen similarly perfect littlenecks, diced potatoes, and a superb tomato-based broth that garners punchy fire and smoke from a load of minced chouriço and begs for mopping up with the accompanying thick slice of fine sourdough. While it may not quite follow the Azorean-American tradition its name implies?the result is nonetheless gorgeous and delicious.” [STUFF]

The Happy News: Hoo boy, with a name like Happy’s, people can’t help but to add a play on the name in their reviews. Here, a small sampling of the happiness. One Yelper can’t get enough of it: “This place made me so HAPPY that we came back after the game for more of the same? Michael've made me very HAPPY!! [sic]” An Eater commenter thought the décor was happy: “I like the decor. It looks ‘happy.’ More businesses should take the risk to be more colorful ambiance wise. It can only serve to make for happy customers.” And finally, someone on FourSquare was decidedly unhappy: “Don't bother...Happy's should be named Grumpy's!”

· All coverage of Happy's Bar + Kitchen on Eater [~EBOS~]

Happy's Bar and Kitchen

1363 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 857 753 4100 Visit Website

1363 Boylston St., Boston, MA