The Place: Venue, 3609 West 32nd Avenue; 303-477-0477
The Hours: Monday through Friday, from 4 until 6:30 p.m.
The Deal: Small plates are priced between $3-12; all beer, wine, and cocktails are half-price
The Digs: Contrary to what one would assume, Venue does not have a bar. The space is a quaint rectangular dining room separated from the small kitchen by a bathroom and a tiny wait station. The decor — white fixtures hanging on white walls that contrast with the dark, heavy wooden dining tables and shiny wood floors — is minimal. The most noticeable color in the room comes from the fresh flowers in tiny vases sitting atop the tables. When Venue has a crowd, this barren room feels refreshing and crisp; when business is slow, the space can feel cold and desolate.
The Verdict: The happy hour at Venue is golden, with impeccably prepared food. The flavors of every single dish listed on the happy hour menu blend beautifully. To wit: The mussels — perfectly steamed and served with heavenly oven-roasted tomatoes, red onions, tarragon, and chorizo — are a dish that couldn't possibly be improved...until you discover the ciabatta slices hidden below that've been soaking up the delicious broth the entire time you've been fighting for the last bite of chorizo. The cheese plate, delicately prepared with cheeses from neighboring St. Kilian's, is divine. Service is superb, yet unobtrusive, and the wine list is both impressive and approachable.
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Overall Grade: A-