Drunk After Work: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine

Dave Lieberman
The Place: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine, 2607 Main St., Irvine, (949) 387-8887; andreisrestaurant.com.

The Hours: Mon.-Fri., 3-7 p.m.

The Deal: Draught beer, $4; well drinks, $5; a few wines at $6; and $2 off speciality cocktails; plus a small menu of $6 happy-hour snacks.

The Scene: The restaurant belies the oh-so-corporate look of the surrounding area. The valet is actually not near the front door, and self-parking is across a plaza. The main bar is upstairs. The inside is dark and indirectly lit. There are many low tables around the walls that will seat eight people without a problem. The crowd is mixed, but surprisingly nicely dressed given OC's reputation for casual sartorial choices.

Dave Lieberman
The Sauce: Very good, very creative cocktails. Usually when restaurants invent cocktails, they use flavored vodkas and fruit juices and liqueurs. Not at Andrei's; they have whisky drinks, gin drinks and Champagne drinks, and some of them are not sweet. There's a spicy orange cocktail with a blood orange garnish that's excellent, as well as a simple Hendrick's gin shaken with puréed cucumber--a great cooler on a hot day. Good wine list; decent beer selection.

Dave Lieberman

The Food:
Six for $6 is the name of the happy-hour menu at Andrei's, and $6 seems a little pricey for a snack until you see the size of the portions. You could do as we did and make a whole dinner out of a couple of them. Kurobuta pork ribs rubbed with harissa and served with cantaloupe chutney and lemon-mint yogurt was the favorite; the meat was soft and the cantaloupe a surprisingly good counterpoint to the heat of the harissa. Vegetable arancini were also excellent, with veggie-studded risotto formed into balls and deep-fried; the sun-dried-tomato sauce was not terribly interesting, though. Spiced chicken kebabs with cilantro pesto and tzatziki were a better choice than a huge pile of flat-tasting hummus; the babaghannoush was chunky, but much richer tasting.

The Verdict: A nice place to have a quiet drink and wrap up business discussions; excellent service, good food, great drinks and decent prices.

The Grade: A-

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My Voice Nation Help

I went here a few weeks ago and really liked their happy hour. I had been for lunch and dinner once before as well, both times I enjoyed the food. The champagne cocktail was my favorite and short ribs were tasty. I think their decor is very chic and modern for Irvine corporate lot on Main. The lack of pictures of great interior does this review no justice! Parking is really not that far with a short walk not more than 40 feet.

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