Koral Bar & Kitchen in Bellevue draws guests for craft cocktails, large bar menu
Koral Bar & Kitchen offers one more stop for happy-hour fans in Bellevue. Located in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, it is owned by the same folks who own Pearl Bar & Dining in Lincoln Square.
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About five years ago, before Bellevue became a happy-hour-mad city like Seattle, there was Pearl with its half-price tapas and drinks. It was the cocktail lounge to be after work and late at night. It was the undisputed king of happy hour on the Eastside.
This spring, Pearl's owners opened Koral Bar & Kitchen, two blocks away. The blueprint will look familiar — half off small plates and craft cocktails every day, early evening and late.
But this is a different time than when Pearl debuted. The downtown shopping area is flooded with cheap food and cocktail deals now, advertised in big bold colors on chalkboards plopped on the sidewalk. (Even Din Tai Fung is considering launching a happy hour.)
It's harder for Koral or any bar to capture such a large share of the happy-hour market as Pearl once did. But it's not for a lack of trying. Koral's craft cocktails ($4) are as cheap as you will find on either side of the bridge. And the happy-hour food ($1.50-$6) is as cheap as any in downtown Bellevue.
It's New American cuisine. There are bone marrows, roasted to a bubbly finish, spread over toast and topped with parsley-capers-lemon salad. Buttery and salty, they're a poor's man foie gras.
Your bone-marrow experience doesn't have to end there. You can do what the cool kids do — the bone-marrow luge, a tradition straight out of Portland, now popular in Brooklyn: After you scrape all the gelatinous marrow, that empty Flintstone bone becomes a vessel to pour booze to mouth.
The misses are many on this large bar menu — some greasy pot stickers, rubbery sirloin strips and overcooked garlic prawns.
But there are enough dishes that will have you coming back — fresh tuna done poke-style and seafood cakes filled with crab and meaty chunks of salmon and halibut. And those crispy fried-chicken sliders drenched in an addicting paprika-and-bacon gravy — you'll want at least two of those.
Koral's cheap happy-hour menu looks a bit like Pearl but aims for a different clientele.
Pearl is the candy cocktail, girl about town, the place to be seen at night. Koral is its more mature sibling: married couples and Microsoft folks, sipping whiskey cocktails and wine, talking weekend plans and current events.
Koral, 900 Bellevue Way N.E., Suite 100, in the Hyatt Regency, offers happy hour daily from 3-6 p.m. and again 9 p.m.-closing, with half off small plates and wine, specialty cocktails and $2 off drafts (425-623-1125 or koralbellevue.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.