Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why go to Social Wine Bar's happy hour if you are a non-drinker?  Why, the food, of course!  Social's happy hour menu offers 5 appetizer options at $4.00 each, Monday through Friday, from 4pm to 7pm.  (There are also drink specials, for those of you who choose to partake in a bit of the grape.)
On a recent Monday night, my family and I celebrated my youngest child's 21st birthday at Social, trying all of the options on the happy hour food menu.  My favorite by far were the Jasmine Rice Balls.  These moist, flavorful orbs of compressed jasmine rice are deep fried and served three to a plate on a zesty coconut curry cream sauce.  Each mouthful is tender and crunchy at the same time, and, when dipped in the curry sauce, finishes with a slight zing.
Our next choice, the Russet Potato Chips, was served with a blue cheese fondue sauce/dip.  The chips arrive at the table warm, with the blue cheese fondue sauce poured over and around them.  They were huge, crispy, nicely salted and the perfect foil for the creamy blue cheese.  Hmmm...maybe these were my favorite.
We then ordered two Margherita Pizzas for the table.   Redolent with basil, these thin crust pizzas are topped with chopped tomatoes and mozzarella- simple yet perfect.  Each pizza serves three people, as there were five of us and we had one piece remaining (which had nothing to do with the fact that we had already ordered and eaten two orders of the rice balls and russet chips..).
The Crispy Shrimp Spring Rolls were next, served two to a plate.  They were indeed crispy, yet the wrapping's layers were still light and not too flakey.  Full of shrimp pieces, they were served with a ginger sesame emulsion for dipping.  We ended the meal with an order of Bruschetta, again quite flavorful, topped with tomatoes, arugula on the side.  It was a nice combination of tart and peppery flavors.
Located at 188 East Bay St., downtown Charleston, Social has a large and active bar area, a raised dining area with tables and upholstered benches along the walls, and a loft-style second floor where the tables overlook the active scene below.   Artwork of local artists adorn the walls, the lighting is subdued yet modern and the wait staff is efficient and attentive.  Parking is available in two nearby city parking garages.  Social sets the bar high for local happy hour haunts and is well worth the trip downtown.

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