To anyone who has been there, Bistro Corlise happy hour may sound like an oxymoron or some sort of ruse. It's hard to imagine enjoying such a pedestrian tradition as happy hour at a place that is the epitome of fine dining. Well, there's reason to be suspicious. You get a deal on a couple of appetizers on the regular menu and selected wines, but don't be fooled. It's a trap. "Happy hour" at Bistro Corlise is really just bait that, once taken, makes it hard not stay for a full meal. Everything here is perfectly executed and thought through. Draped in oranges and browns with wood floors and vintage French liquor ads hanging on the walls, the space manages to be warm and refined at the same time. At one point, chef, owner, and certified sommelier, Jason Logan, even came out of the kitchen himself to discuss a table's wine choice and the iron content of the soil where the grapes were grown. The display was an obvious set-up to reel me in. The pork terrine, a sort of crustless meat pie, with sliced parsnips and a stunning whole grain mustard wasn't fulfilling; it was a tease, leaving me wanting more. The boar rillettes, a rich pâté-like spread served with crustini and Dijon mustard only whet my appetite further. After impulsively straying from the happy hour deal and ordering a bread basket, a salad, and a second glass of the special red, a delicious Grenache-Syrah blend, it was time to put on the brakes. But I almost didn't. How can you be expected to limit yourself to a couple of appetizers when the full menu is sitting right there on the bar in front of you? That's what they're banking on. Clever bastards! Next time I think they'll succeed.
What: Bistro Corlise Happy Hour
When: Wed.-Sun., 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Where: 916 NW Wall St.
Price: $5 appetizers and selected wines
Why: If you're going to get taken in, it may as well be at a place like this.