Happy Place: Row 14 Bistro and Wine Bar, 891 Fourteenth Street, 303-825-0100.
The Hours: Sunday through Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight.
The Deals: $2-$3 beer specials; $4 specialty cocktails; $5-$10 appetizers.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Row 14 is a recent addition to the mirage of restaurants vying for well-heeled crowds in the bustling downtown theater district. A spacious, sophisticated space that's perhaps more cosmopolitan than comfortable, seats are hard to come by on crowded nights, but at least there's enough elbow room between bodies, and it's nice that you can have a conversation without sitting in your neighbor's lap. Decked out with granite hues and large, wrought iron accent pieces that wrap around dainty lights, and located across the street from the Performing Arts Complex, it's the perfect place to down a bottle of wine before you head to a show.
The Verdict: The bar stools are Row 14 feel cheap and uncomfortable, but we forgot about our teetering seats as soon as the bartender approached us. He was warm and hospitable, with a sincere appreciation for his craft and devoid of any generic bullshit that can result from too many nights schmoozing people from behind the bar. We flipped through the expansive wine list -- possibly the most enthralling aspect of Row 14 -- and settled on a couple of glasses of torrontés before we moved on to the food.
Sadly, the bar offerings were simply boring, thanks to a selection of "fryolator" plates that, while filling, lacked the creative genius we had hoped to encounter from a restaurant that offers forty wines by the glass. For the calorie-conscious, the happy hour menu boasts chickpea hummus and warm pita bread, as well as two salads, but after unenthusiastically perusing the menu, we decided on the salmon and ahi cheese wontons and the fish and chips.
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The golden wontons, fried pillows oozing rich, creamy centers, were savory and filling -- but definitely didn't knock our socks off, and while one order of the fish and chips was large enough to feed two, we were underwhelmed by the soggy fries and bland red pepper remoulade. To add insult to injury, it's one of the features on the $10 plates list -- and $10 for anything on a happy hour menu is pricey. Still, the burger -- a thick, meaty, greasy patty of grilled deliciousness that's another ten buck option -- was excellent.
If you're headed to Row 14 for their twice-a-night happy hour, go for the kick-ass wine list and the outstanding service; go for the proximity and convenience to the theater; and go because it's a cozy place to have a cocktail without the stuffiness of the Larimer crowds. But if you're looking for a unique array of snacks to pair with your buzz, we recommend heading elsewhere.
Overall Grade: B