Despite gracious service, happy hour at Marlowe's is underwhelming

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Happy Place: Marlowe's, 501 16th Street, 303-595-3700.

The Hours: Daily from 3 to 7 p.m.

The Deals: $4 cocktails, martinis, and wines by the glass; half-priced draft beers; and $2 off all appetizers.

Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.

The Digs: Marlowe's has resided on the Glenarm crossing of the Sixteenth Street Mall for thirty years, and from the vast dining room, patrons have a front row view of the downtown hustle and bustle. The restaurant is much larger than it appears from the street, with massive dining areas and a crescent bar mediating the space between. The atmosphere is relaxed and convivial, and conversation among regulars pervades the chaos of the servers running back and forth from the kitchen.

The Verdict: I was the solitary female at a bar full of business suits, which can be a tricky scenario if you're in the mood to bury yourself in a book while sipping a glass of wine. Fortunately, the men around me were engrossed in sports and automobile talk, and we were all enjoying our respective purposes for being there.

The bartenders issued a sincere greeting, their banter unscripted, which was refreshing given the hordes of corporate restaurants located on this particular strip. But that's where the accolades end. Yes, Marlowe's provides warm solitude from the insanity of the Mall, but the crowd is incredibly touristy and the food is mediocre and overpriced. The crab-stuffed mushrooms are generously portioned, but much to our dismay, the crab was fishy and lacked any sign of freshness, and the pancetta-wrapped mozzarella was bland and rubbery -- and one should probably question any kind of cheese dish that's served with a meat knife. The risotto croquettes were the least disappointing, but not enough to redeem the experience. Were it not for the bartenders, who are courteous and gracious, we wouldn't think about stepping foot in Marlowe's again for a long time.

Overall Grade: C

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