The Osetra Happy Hour is one of the best in the Gaslamp Quarter. But nobody seems to remember it. The posh seafood and steak place (904 Fifth Avenue) does a good dinner business on the weekend. And it ebbs and flows as convention business hits town. But every day from 4 to 6:30 p.m. (including the weekend) the deals on cocktails, beer and apps run from $6 to $10. And unlike many other spots in downtown, the Osetra Happy Hour still offers oysters for $1 each.
Oysters are an acquired taste, and one that goes down even better at a good price. Oceanaire and Spike Africa used to sell Happy Hour oysters for a buck apiece. However, both have raised prices. I’ve enjoyed a good plate of oysters at upscale eateries like Blue Point Coastal Cuisine and Water Grill in the Gaslamp, and at Ironside Fish & Oyster (Little Italy).
But Osetra, which has survived on Fifth Avenue while many restaurants have come and gone, had slipped my mind.
OSETRA HAPPY HOUR FOOD & DRINK
Jules, my partner in Happy Hours and life at large, stepped up to the Ostra bar on a recent Friday. The beauty of this Italian seafood restaurant was evident. Its pristine linen table clothes were eagerly waiting for patrons. We hung out for an hour and a half. March Madness basketball on the television was a happy distraction, but barely a half dozen other people showed up at the bar.
Why have we all forsaken this spot for quitting-time apps and drinks? Shucks, along with a dozen oysters for $12, there’s also a deal on 10 oysters and selected bottles of wine for $24.
The Parmesan calamari and baby shrimp (served with marinara and chipotle aioli) is better than average, and you get a filling meal for $9. Cocktails and wine are $6, as are craft drafts (including Stone, Karl Strauss and Ale Smith options).
WHERE WINE ANGELS SOAR
Not that you’ll order a top-shelf bottle of wine during Happy Hour. But visiting Osetra allowed us to remember one bit of Gaslamp novelty here—the tradition of “wine angels.” The restaurant is three stories tall, and in the center of the bar is a wine tower. If the bottle you request is stored at the top, a wine angel—adorned in white wings, natch—will get in a harness and be hoisted up to retrieve the selection.
We got a kick out of watching a wine angel (in training) load a couple bottles into the tower. And thus, an angelic epiphany, which inspired me to whisper this prayer: Please let the good people recall that Osetra is a heavenly place for that good ol’ Happy Hour. But don’t tell the sinners.