When Q House shut its doors for nearly two months, I was devastated. Friends had been telling me to check out this modern Chinese spot for months, especially since it had a killer happy hour. But I never made it to the restaurant before the pandemic hit, and then I wondered if the closing spelled the end of Q House, despite local and national accolades. Then, out of the blue last week, a friend mentioned it had reopened with limited carryout service. I didn’t waste any time.
During these novel times, I continue to follow my self-made advice that we must invent our own equally novel happy hours. Does Q House currently offer a happy hour, per se? No, it does not. Does it have uniquely tasty cocktails that come in reusable flask-shaped glass bottles that can be consumed in the late afternoon hours? Yes, it does. Bingo! I can work with that.
Currently Q House is open for pickup from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Although the ordering rules are a tad confusing, essentially you can order by phone before 4 p.m. and online between 4 and 8. Curbside pick-up is easy; you can opt to have someone bring it to your car window or simply walk up and grab your food from the patio window without going inside.
While I usually try to keep happy hour to a few boozy options and a nosh or two, three friends (with whom I was enjoying a socially distanced crafting session) offered to pitch in so we could try a little more of the menu. Our order was ready within twenty minutes of placing it online, so within about thirty my car smelled like a divine blend of garlic, chiles and sesame.
I was most excited about Q House’s mezcal cocktail, the Cherry Daisy, one of five intriguing options. Vibrant and viscous, the Cherry Daisy blends mezcal, tart cherry, lime and a serrano beet-sugar syrup that is not as spicy as it is a balancing force to the bright tartness of the lime and cherry. We also landed on the Squash Old Fashioned, because I’m a sucker for anything that makes use of curiously smoky lapsang souchong tea. Though I've never tasted anything like it, pairing this smoke-dried tea with bourbon turned out to be a surprisingly natural fit.
Given my mixed experience with fried chicken lately, I rushed to release Q House’s famed Chong Qing chicken from its box. I was excited to see how it would compare to Hop Alley’s spicy La Za Ji — another local version of the famed Sichuan dish (which I had incidentally ordered for my birthday a few weeks earlier). I was immediately struck, almost perplexed, by how juicy Q House’s chicken managed to be — by far the most succulent chicken I’ve had in the past few months. If you’re a spice freak, on the other hand, this version pales in comparison to Hop Alley's.
We also tacked on an order of shacha barbecue spareribs, which weren't so much juicy as moist, a tad sweet, and falling clean off the bone. At $22, we may bypass them on our next visit, but only to add another two cocktails. The duck lo mein ($14) and fingerling potato and Chinese cauliflower ($10) were hearty and hefty, leaving leftovers that my roommate and I fought over the next morning. Okay, so maybe this happy hour turned into more of an extended chow-fest, but I can happily report that any combo of Q House's stellar cocktails and beyond-ordinary nosh options will leave you satisfied while safe at home.
Q House is located at 3421 East Colfax Avenue and is open for pick-up Wednesday through Sunday, with curbside service offered after 4:30 p.m. Order by phone beginning at 12:30 p.m. or online after 4 on the Q House website.
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