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Originally published Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 7:02 PM

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Happy Hour: The specials are almost always on at Belltown's Ventana

The happy-hour shingle is almost always out at Ventana in Seattle's Belltown. Ventana hosts happy hour from opening to closing on Sundays and Mondays, and has it twice a day on other days.

Seattle Times staff reporter

HAPPY HOUR |

Happy hour in Seattle is not as spontaneous as you might think. It requires planning, especially for a large party of workers coming from different directions. You might need to beat rush-hour traffic. Or luck into a prime parking spot to make the happy-hour cutoff.

But the cosmos would have to be aligned against you for you to miss the happy hour at Ventana. This Belltown joint runs happy hour from opening to closing on Sundays and Mondays. The rest of the week, happy hour runs until 7:30 p.m. and starts up again a few hours later.

Ventana has quite an extensive happy-hour menu, as generous as you'll find anywhere in the city. View of Elliott Bay isn't bad, either.

Ventana pays homage to the South, to the Mediterranean, to comfort food and to a smorgasbord of other cuisines. There's a fall-off-the-bone-tender beef short rib served over a sunchoke purée, deftly touched with hazelnuts. A juicy, medium-rare leg of lamb is served with crunchy fried chickpeas. These, and other gourmet fare, run around $6-$7. You won't find a better deal for such quality bar food made from Carlton Farms pork, Painted Hills beef and Cattail Creek lamb.

Not perfect, though. The white meat in the popular fried chicken and waffles was dry, and the venison osso bucco was dry and salty.

For those who don't want to venture out of their comfort zone, chef Joseph Conrad dressed up the usual suspects. The burger gets stuffed with chile relleno and cheese and topped with bacon, escarole and goat cheese, and served with fries, a huge portion. Better though, a grilled duck-meat hot dog, served with a foie gras mustard with some addictive potato chips made in-house.

Ventana, 2323 First Ave., offers happy hour all night on Sundays and Mondays and on other days from 4:30-7:30 p.m. and again at 10 p.m.-2 a.m. (The kitchen closes at midnight.)

All dinner items half-off during happy hour, with drink specials from $3-$8 (206-441-4789 www.ventanaseattle.com).

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com

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