Los Angeles, CA 90046
Parking: Valet is free for first hour ($3 after); Metered Street Parking
Drink & Food Specials: Wide selection of $5 appetizers & cocktails
Aroma Bakery Café has been in JG’s (former) and my (current) hood for the last 4-5 years. Even with its close proximity and having been open for years, I’d somehow only been once before. I vaguely remembered it being good overall – nice patio seating, interesting Sunset Strip views, the food was good, but there seemed to be something that wasn’t quite right. It only took me one Happy Hour trip to remember what that was – the prices!
Generally speaking, the Happy Hour deals are great; Aroma features a large selection of $5 appetizers and beverages. However, Aroma assesses a 15% service charge to every bill – no matter the size of your party or the time of day. Logically, I thought this was our waiter’s tip, but when I asked him – lo & behold, the service charge is paid directly to the restaurant and he only received any left by the customer.
In my 3-and-a-half years covering Happy Hours around LA, I can honestly not recall running across a service charge (unless it was a large party), so I was rather baffled. So were plenty of unhappy Yelpers (read their comments here). Ironically, the next week, I ran into my second service charge at Proud Bird near LAX (review coming soon) – not sure if the universe is trying to tell me something or if this is a new trend!
This is me - not comprehending the 15% service charge. But good mojito!
Not to dwell on the service charge (though it’s kind of hard not to) – the Happy Hour deals really are good. Longtime HHT friend Adbot and I feasted like kings, enjoying a number of $5 apps:
Feta with Grape Leaves
Labane (a sour cream-like dip served with flatbread)
Guacamole Dip (chopped guacamole served with pressed French bread)
Sweet Potato Fries
4 non-Happy Hour, but delicious macaroons ($5.98 for 4)
For drinks, we were intrigued by the name of a new drink – The Muchito, assuming it was a new Spanish style cocktail we’d never heard of. LOLzzz, not quite – it was a mojito spelled… well, differently (honestly, about half the items on the HH menu were spelled phonetically). Whatever you call ‘em, the muchitos/mojitos were delish. Adbot sampled the regular and I tried the day’s special Berry Muchito. For rounds 2 & 3, we had 2 glasses of white wine apiece at $5 a glass.
It's muchito time!!
We had a great time overall, there was a good number of other diners, our servers were nice and checked on us regularly, so we were feeling pretty happy by the end of Happy Hour (3 cocktails will do that too!). Too bad we had a bit of a rude awakening with the service charge, nothing to snap you out of a Happy Hour reverie like getting less of a good deal than you had originally thought...
C’est la vie.
Rating: 2.5 Martinis