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  • HAPPY HOUR

    'Oh my' at Oggi's for happy hour

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  • Walking into Oggi’s on a Tuesday afternoon for happy hour, I wasn’t sure what to expect — except, of course, the smell of garlic and fresh-baked bread. Those smells are a staple of the eatery that opened at the Jess Ranch Marketplace in Apple Valley in 2007.
    My girlfriend, Nicole, and I entered the restaurant a couple of Tuesdays ago a little after 4 p.m. and grabbed a seat at the bar top, our appetites and thirsts in tow.
    There were a few other patrons sitting at the bar and in the bar area, and a couple diners scattered about the rest of the restaurant that boasts, by my count, 19 flat-panel TVs, a mix of classic rock music playing lightly but still audibly in the background and a patio for dining and drinking for those days and evenings where it’s just too nice outside to stay inside.
    At the bar, we were greeted by the bartender, Leandra, who was very pleasant and nice throughout our visit. We inquired on the joint’s happy hour offerings, and among the several things Leandra mentioned, two things stood out to Nicole and I: Oggi’s Sticks for $4.99, normally $7.99, and flatbreads for $6.99, normally $9.99 each.
    Whoa.
    If you’ve been to Oggi’s more than a time or two, you’ve likely tasted the Oggi’s Sticks. They’re kind of like fancy cheesy breadsticks, but even more fancy. The dough is heavy (in a good way, especially for an appetizer), the distinct garlic flavor is present in every bite and the cheese on top plus the olive oil (I would assume — someone correct me if I’m wrong on that, please) makes for a well-rounded snack.
    Snack? It’s almost a meal itself.
    The flatbreads were also an option, and after perusing the full menu, Nicole and I settled on the Club Flatbread — a thin crust brushed with garlic olive oil and topped with mozzarella, grilled chicken breast, bacon pieces, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, diced avocado and drizzled with their in-house ranch dressing.
    There were other options that included scores of toppings on each, but this was the one we could both agree on.
    I’m glad we did.
    Before I forget, we did partake in Oggi’s microbrews. For me, their Sunset Amber Ale, which delivers a crisp bite followed by a very smooth and frothy finish. For Nicole, the Paradise Pale Ale, which was a little bitter for my palate, but Nicole described it very simply: “Yum.”
    Our food order didn’t take very long at all to arrive — less than 15 minutes. The surprising part, though, wasn’t the serving time.
    The surprising part was the portion size.
    In talking over our order, Nicole and I essentially agreed that while we’ve been to Oggi’s before and had Oggi’s Sticks and flatbreads, the portions would likely be small due to the price.
    We were wrong.
    These food orders were full size, but at half the price.
    I’ll repeat: Whoa.
    And the quality wasn’t lacking, either. For what we’ve both come to know and expect from Oggi’s in taste and delivery in their food, it matched up distinctly.
    The Oggi’s Sticks were soft but not doughy. They had clear, tasty flavors but didn’t really leave either of our mouths with one flavor that lingered over any of the others.
    The flatbread, the first tasting for both of us on this particular one, had a lot of fun ingredients. The bacon didn’t make it too salty, the flatbread wasn’t too crispy, the avocado wasn’t too abundant (I personally could have had more, but I’m not complaining), the veggies were simple but tasteful and the ranch sauce was a wise addition to everything else on this plate.
    We filled up rather quickly, so we packed up our leftovers and, on our way home, made a brief stop at Gators Sports Bar in Hesperia to say hi to our close friend, Hari.
    We offered Hari the remains of our happy hour visit to Oggi’s, which she not only accepted, but did so with a smile.
    I later asked Hari to tell me what she thought of the food, which admittedly wasn’t exactly fresh anymore since it took several minutes to get from one point to the other and she didn’t eat it right away.
    “The cheese bread was really good. It was soft and moist even after a few hours because I took some home,” Hari reported back to me. “The seasoning on it was perfect.
    “The flatbread was delicious. They put the perfect amount of everything so I got a little taste of everything in each bite.”
    Sometimes, I say “for the price, it was good.” On this trip to Oggi’s for happy hour, I can’t in my right mind say it was good just for the price. No, it was good for the food. Easily. The price was merely gravy on top of the whole experience.
    This columnist gives Oggis’ happy hour five out of five stars.
    We’ll be back. Soon.
    Martial Haprov writes Happy Hour, a weekly column focusing on food and drinks offered at discounted prices at Victor Valley eateries, in the Food & Drink section of the Daily Press. Have a suggestion for the column? Drop him a line at MHaprov@VVDailyPress.com.
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