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Happy Hour at Park & Co.: Hungry for Action

There's nothing more frustrating to your humble correspondent than a happy hour without food. Yes, liquor discounts are truer to the original spirit of happy hour, when folks would go out for pre-dinner drinks with little more than pretzels to sustain them. Now, most people eat around cocktails and beers, or vice-versa. I relish getting the chance to put a restaurant through all its paces for a fraction of the price.

Park & Co. offers a number of fancy cocktails -- and a few less fancy ones -- but no food on its happy hour menu, which runs from 2 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close on weekdays, and 11 p.m. to close on Fridays and Saturdays. A shame, but I think we'll get along just fine nonetheless. See also: Happy Hour at Central Bistro: Cheers to the View

Just like Prince said, everybody's goin' Uptown, and 17th Avenue is the hottest street in the business. With four years under its belt, Park & Co. is younger and less established than stalwarts like Steuben's and Watercourse Foods, but has some age and wisdom on newcomers Argyll Whiskey Beer and Beast + Bottle. The concept is, and always has been, to bring the award-winning burgers of Park Burger to a more upscale setting, surrounded by some internationally-inspired drinks, salads and small plates.

So despite Park & Co.'s pleasant buzz, I didn't expect to be handed an exceptionally well-made Negroni ($5) right off the bat, and for a five-spot no less. Just sweet enough, just bitter enough, swimming a sphere of ice -- pretty classy for a place built on sloppy, artery-blocking burgers. Speaking of which, I had never tried one of these "Park burgers" the kids are talking about these days, but I found a burger that grabbed me right in my Italian-loving heart: the Scarpone ($9.50), with giardiniera, crispy pancetta and truffle aioli. It was just as good, if not better, than I had been told. I didn't mind paying full price a bit.

But if you are looking to just snack while you drink, steer clear of the bewildering samosas ($7) and dry, flavorless buffalo wings ($7). I rued not trying a few sliders (available in Morrocan lamb and fried chicken varieties for $10), which would have been closer to Park & Co.'s wheelhouse. Help me out here, Park lovers: which apps should I try next time?

So despite a few quibbles, I can't argue with a place with excellent burgers and a killer cocktail program. Next time I'm Uptown, (Baby), I'll stop in for another happy-hour drink. But how 'bout something to eat, bartender?

Perfect for: Watching the game with those friends who don't care about sports. Plenty of TVs, plus Foosball tables if they get antsy.

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Don't miss: Drafts are also a buck off at happy hour, but take advantage of the bar's cocktail skills and go for a dry martini ($5), or a Moscow Mule ($5) -- a Park & Co. signature.

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