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Fleming's fits the bill for booze, bites and people-watching

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Happy Place: Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, 191 Inverness Drive West, 303-768-0827.

The Hours: Daily from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Deals: $6 specialty cocktails, wines by the glass, and small plates.

Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.

The Digs: Located amid the rolling green hills of suburban Inverness, Fleming's is everything a chain steakhouse should be: sprawling, clubby, furbished with dark woods and pumping with modern instrumental tunes on Muzaka. And the bar follows suit, its handsome quarters so dimly lit that a dropped purse may take hours to find. The patio is crammed with children and parents sipping martinis in desperation, and a parking lot packed to the gills with valets sprinting to the next Mercedes. In other words, there's a little something for whatever your heart desires at Fleming's, especially when you're trapped down south.

The Verdict: Traffic was horrific because Snoop Dogg was playing two exits up, and the woman next to us on the patio was describing an overly graphic account of the birth of her twins. It was a weekday afternoon in Disturbia, and we decided that it was definitely time to start drinking.

The blood orange cocktails we ordered were far too sweet despite the promise that they wouldn't be, so we gave them up and opted for wine instead. Smart decision, because the wine list is behemoth with several decent choices. The first of our appetizers arrived -- baked brie with warmly spiced apples wrapped in a puff pastry -- and the result was a good one, not to mention the perfect accompaniment to our sauvignon blanc. Our next two plates -- calamari and beef carpaccio -- weren't nearly as riveting, but we appreciated the large portions. While a bit slow, the service was friendly and accommodating, and we enjoyed our evening outside, plus nearly nothing comes close to the fun of people-watching in the 'burbs.


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