Happy Place: Rodney's, 2819 East Second Avenue, 303-394-3939.
The Hours: Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.
The Deals: Half-priced bottled beer, wines by the glass, well cocktails and appetizers.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Rodney's opened nearly thirty years ago in Denver's posh and pompous Cherry Creek neighborhood and has maintained its status (and the same clientele) as one of the area's indestructible watering holes in the city. The underground restaurant boasts a dining room of booths surrounded by a large rectangular bar occupied by the lonely. The space is dark and dated -- the kind of bar you'd go to if you wanted to drink away the pain of something awful. On a positive note, the staff is as loyal and consistent as the regulars.
The Verdict: Basement bars. If they don't have a certain allure, they can make you want to kill yourself. In a city with 300 days of sunshine per year, someone looking to escape belowground to drink shitty wine to excess is probably not in a happy mood -- and that's the vibe at Rodney's. The crowd seems disgruntled and stagnant, and the atmosphere reeks of oppressed frustration. The space is a vacuum of negative energy, and we couldn't escape because we had already ordered food.
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And the food only adds to the somber experience. The sliders, which appeared to have come straight off a Sysco truck, tasted as though they were born in a microwave, and the fries were oily and underdone. The queso dip, which came highly recommended by the bartender, was gritty, and the thin tortilla chips that accompanied it had a hard time competing with the rubbery, congealing concoction. And while the servers were friendly, they seem as excited to be there as the older, single gentleman staring sadly into his vodka tonic. We'd need a serious reason (and some anti-depressants) to ever think of returning to Rodney's happy hour.
Overall Grade: D