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October 15th, 2008 12:00 am Shoshanna Cohen | Special Section Stories

Happy Hour of the Year: Carafe


IMAGE: Matt D’Annunzio

Seemingly every Portland restaurant worth its Malden salt has some sort of happy hour, but not all specials live up to the name. Delectable, inexpensive morsels might come with $9 cocktails, and bars often sacrifice liquor quality for cheaper drinks.

We were surprised to find, after a comprehensive survey, that our favorite happy hour is one that has been around for years and refrains from envelope-pushing. Carafe serves cheap, generous and good food and drinks—all we want at 5 pm on a Monday.

Carafe’s Frenchiness is not the snobby, meticulous-gastronomy kind, but the average Pierre-Parisian-stopping-by-for-a-sandwich kind: You can get plump mussels, fries served in newspaper and a Lillet for nine bucks. Items like these or a croque monsieur ($3.95) aren’t exactly refined, but they are well executed, satisfying and thrillingly Euro. The burger ($3.95), served on a Ken’s mini ciabatta, is so juicy it squirted on my dining companion when he bit into it. An aperitif like Lillet (an herby-sweet white wine, $4) is refreshing and interesting but not stiff enough to get you loaded before sundown. If getting loaded before dark is actually your goal, knock back a couple of liquid-candy French martinis (vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice, $4) and let loose the office gossip.
Happy hour 3-6 pm Monday-Friday (3-5 pm when there’s a show at Keller Auditorium).

Ten 01
Here you get the same fresh ingredients and careful preparation that go into the dinners, minus the $30 price tag. Decadent chorizo burgers and exquisite classic cocktails are practically being given away at $5 each. Happy hour 3-6 pm Monday-Saturday.

50 Plates
Daily $6 drink and snack combos are anchored in Americana: sip remarkably balanced Manhattans with warm, chewy pretzels on Mondays, or Moscow mules with pimiento cheese toasts on “Thirst Days.” Happy hour 3-6 pm Monday-Friday.

Specials across the board make it easy to try a little of everything. After a rough week at the office, you’re going to need a Corpse Reviver No. 4. Buttery spaetzle with Gruyère will put you right back in the tomb ($5 each). Happy hour 5-7 pm nightly. 3652 SE Division St., 236-8755.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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