Happy Hour: Sheddy's Public Parlor (Will the Real Jim Sheddy Please Stand Up?)
The Hours: daily 5-8 p.m. and all Monday.
The Deals: $4.25 draught beers; $2 off wines by the glass and American beer bottles; $10 carafes of sangria; deals on "beer and wine license friendly" vodka, rum and tequila shots and cocktails.
The Digs: In the shadow of the monolithic Grove, humble Sheddy's Public Parlor provides a slightly divey oasis in the drinker's desert that is this stretch of Fairfax. Cozy and darkly candle-lit (so dark we couldn't snap a photo), Sheddy's has a shabby elegance with gilt-framed paintings and velvet cushions playing off a scruffy cement floor. About ten tables line the length of the handsome wood-paneled bar, extending into a small back room. The intimate size invites conversations among patrons and makes it easy to do some good eavesdropping, which allowed us on a recent visit to listen in on a conversation between a first time customer and the congenial barkeep. "The bar reminds me of where I used to live in Chicago in Wicker Park," she said with that special brand of Midwestern enthusiasm. "It's fun to walk into a place and be enchanted." Indeed.
Turn the page for our verdict...
The Verdict: Like the space itself, the happy hour drink options are modest but pleasing. The smart list of regional American bottled beers, including Abita Purple Haze, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, and Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat, which usually runs between $5 and $10.50 (for the 22-ounce spicy Coney Island Albino Python) are two dollars off, as are wines from a diverse international list. Draught beers, usually six bucks, are $4.25, offering an opportunity for suds novices to taste the deliciously refreshing, almost Tang-like Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat.
Though Sheddy's is only licensed for beer and wine, they do offer low-proof vodka, rum, and tequila shots for a mere buck during happy hour. Sipped solo, these drinks may be a simulacrum of the real thing, but a shot of the strangely sweet vodka and a nip of the tequila combined with a glass of Argentinean malbec was enough to make us a wee bit tipsy. For cocktail enthusiasts, the "hard" stuff can be mixed with Hansen's sodas ($8.50), which are available two for the price of one, though sadly the Bloody Caesar, offered in honor of affable owner Jim Sheddy's Canadian roots, are not part of the happy hour menu.
Nor for that matter is the smattering of food choices, which is the main drawback of the joint. Though the nibbles menu is limited by Sheddy's lack of a kitchen, drinkers can create their own cheese and charcuterie board from a reasonable list of options, but the plate remains its usual $13.75 for three items and two accompaniments (think cornichons and mesquite honey). More happy hour friendly is the bowl of spicy Ethiopian beef jerky for $2.50, which has a pungent smokiness and provides a surprising kick to the back of the throat but suffers from a texture reminiscent of moist twigs.
For a warm, sociable place to knock back a few really good beers for cheap, Sheddy's happy hour warrants an A. But without some food specials to soak up the faux tequila, we have to dock it a few points for forcing us to cross the street for a couple of slices of Du-Pars' pie.
Overall Rating: B+