Happy Hour at Mockingbird Bistro

Veal sweetbreads.
Veal sweetbreads.

If there's anything thing I hate more than cooking, it's cooking for one. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration -- I don't hate cooking nearly as much as I used to -- but when I'm flying solo for dinner I'd rather go out than slave over a cup of Ramen. Finding myself alone and hungry on Thursday night, I headed over to Mockingbird Bistro to see what was happening on their "5 at 5 for $5" happy hour menu.

The Mockingbird happy hour menu changes periodically, although I noticed a few items were the same, or similar, as the last time I was there. I was feeling adventurous, and with encouragement from my waiter I went with the veal sweetbreads with grilled Portobello, crispy pancetta, and Romesco sauce.

On the plus side, this was a delicious appetizer: the crispy pancetta was a nice textural counterpoint to the soft, warm sweetbreads; the Romesco sauce was lively and acidic, rich and tangy. Considering that sweetbreads aren't my "thing," I was really happy with the taste profile -- I experienced none of that musty flavor I associate with the innards of things.

The flip side of that was that my excitement about being adventurous was a bit quashed by the lack of exotic flavors. While the pancetta was very crisp, I have to admit that it wasn't at all distinguishable from regular old bacon, and also lacking any hint of saltiness, which I think the dish could have used to highlight the sweetness of the Romesco. What of the Portobello? The mushroom was buried under the pancetta and the sauce, and it seemed a little like an afterthought. I could certainly have lived without it, and I don't think it added much to the overall dish in either flavor or texture.

That said, this was ultimately a lovely little bite of sweetbreads, and my fear of innards continues to diminish. I don't think that the $10.51 I paid for the dish and my glass of wine is too high a price to pay for that kind of horizon-expanding food experience.

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