Happy Place: Le Grand Bistro and Oyster Bar, 1512 Curtis Street, 303-534-1155.
The Hours: Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.
The Deals: $3 Trummer Pilsner and wines by the glass; $1.25 deep cove oysters; $7-$12 small plates.
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The Digs: Le Grand sits right next door to renowned Denver diner Sam's No. 3, but the two neighbors couldn't be more different if they tried. Sophisticated and sprightly, Le Grand boasts dark, velvety hues, twinkling lights, and sketches of pigs on the wall. The room is airy -- but never drafty -- and during happy hour, you can overhear the staff chatting excitedly about the night's service. The enormous bar, flanked with shelves of liquor and surrounded with high top bistro tables, holds a heavy presence.
The Verdict: There are few places in town where we feel as equally enthusiastic about having happy hour as we do about having a full-fledged dinner. Le Grand Bistro is one of these places. The bar is romantic and intimate, the perfect place to sit down and solve the world's problems over glasses of wine and French food. It's even better when it's snowing outside, as the bar stools seem cozier when flakes are lightly falling through the massive windows facing Curtis Street.
The happy hour menu at Le Grand rules, although don't expect typical happy hour prices. Most of the dishes reflect normal menu pricing, save for a few small plates. We're happy to spend the extra cash though, since the offerings are more upscale than your typical happy hour bar baskets. We rejoice in spreading the foie gras mousse on toasted baguette slices, and the fennel sausage never disappoints -- it could, in fact, be a meal in itself. We appreciate the salads, too, and the arugula salad, topped with a fried egg and speckled with bacon, is a surprisingly wonderful tossup to the heavier dishes. The service, more often than not, is fastidious and friendly, and the bartenders, always quick with a strory, only add to a grand bistro experience.
Overall Grade: B+