Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!

OK, I’m just going to start by saying that my dear friends Lisha and Sharanpal, set out to make sure that my dinner with them last Monday night would be one for the books—one that I would remember long after this blog is over.

Dinner on a Monday night?  How much fun could that possibly be?  After all, it’s a work night, people are down and grumpy because it’s the first day of the week, and you may recall that I mentioned on my first night out, I found that many places chose that night to go dark.

But they insisted I join them last Monday at Cleaver, 50 Seats & a Cow , also known simply as Cleaver.  My friends wanted me to have an experience like no other during this food quest on 17th Avenue, SW., and they told me that Cleaver on a Monday night was the place to do it.

I walked across 17th to meet them, over to just east of 4th Street; it was another hot evening, but there was a pleasant breeze, and the sun was behind me.  As I crossed the streets, the crowds seemed to grow—clearly the bars and pubs and eateries on this end of the avenue seem more steadily busy every night of the week (I'm not going to name them, as some are on my list to try, but I will say one is a very popular pub,and I've seen all of them now on different nights, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen many of them quiet).

I almost didn’t see Cleaver at first; it’s tucked into the middle of a block filled with bustling dining and drinking spots.  I knew to look for the sign of the Cleaver and for the large cow mural on the wall (given the name, I’m guessing there are 50 seats, although I didn’t count them). The exterior is a luscious shade of deep teal, with tall plants and open doors and a generous patio in the front.

Cleaver, 524 17th Avenue, SW

I was met at the door and greeted very warmly by a man I found out later is Alex, one of the owners, who sat me at a comfortable table backing right onto the avenue. As I settled in and looked into the dining room, I realized there wasn’t a spare seat—this place was packed, on a Monday night. It was noisy and bustling and people were laughing and talking and drinking and generally having a ball.  

On a Monday night.  And I was about to find out why.

Before I even had a chance to look at the menu—drinks or otherwise, I was greeted by the friendliest waitress, hands down, ever. She had a glass of prosecco and some spiced popcorn and she gave me the rundown on what the hell was going on.

Every evening, Sunday to Thursday, there are insane drink and food specials.

There’s an extensive, inventive drink menu, where until 7 pm and after 9 pm, drinks are just five dollars. 

Five bucks?  On what planet can you find this?

And I’m not talking your basic beer or bourbon and soda; this is a drink menu like none I’ve ever seen.  With names like “Slap Your Momma”, “Acting the Maggot”, “Christ on a Bike”, some made with some ingredients you may have never heard of and probably never tried, you might be tempted to have one or two…or three….which we did.

OK, this first drink is the Slap Your Momma...and it has a chili pepper frozen into the ice; as the ice melts the drink gets hotter!  Others are the Sticky Wicket, Monk and Mexican and  And all were really, really good. 

Then during that same time, sliders are only $3.  We each got one—I had buttermilk fried chicken, Lisha had duck with bacon, and Sharanpal opted for the tempura fish, which was salmon.  Holy cow. 

(there are no photos of the sliders...they disappeared before I took a photo)
It’s a good thing I was with a couple of Cleaver pros, or I would have filled up on the sliders.

You see, Monday night is plank night at Cleaver.

And on the plank? Cock.

OK, stop snickering. 

It’s a half a chicken, served with fries cooked in duck fat and two sides; we had chick pea and kale salad and blood sausage rolls. Usually more than two can handle, with the sliders this was exactly the right amount of food for three of us.

Best news was we even had room for the homemade desserts, which consisted of a Toblerone cheesecake (OMG good) and an assortment of house made pieces (sponge toffee, cinnamon bread, gummy bears—yes homemade, potato chips and some kind of bars made from Snickers and something crispy, accompanied by chocolate dip…and all so, so good.

But wait, it’s not over.  On Monday nights—and this is just a small part of what makes it special—you take a chance to win your plank.  You’re presented with a cup with a pair of dice and you toss them…if you get two even numbers –not a total, but the dice themselves must be even—your plank is free.

Bet you can guess what happened next.

Even if we hadn’t won (ok, I’ll admit it, it felt great), the Cleaver experience is fantastic.  From the service to the food to the atmosphere—even the visit to our table from Barbara, the chef and co-owner with Alex—the entire experience was perfect—the way a night out with friends should be. 

Lisha with Barbara, chef extraordinaire (note the Cow behind on the wall)

I highly recommend you get yourself one of those 50 seats at Cleaver.