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One of VPC's mushroom pies, but, you get the idea.

A couple of weeks ago I slid into Volunteer Park Cafe to find that owner-chef Ericka Burke had just instituted happy hour, a not-altogether-unexpected move from the restaurateur who closed her two other operations (Canal Market, Chop Shop) earlier this year. Happy hour is a known cash cow for restaurants that want to lower the threshold for first-timers and make visitors into regulars. Such are the potency of its charms, happy hour is illegal in several states.

I’m not kidding.

VPC’s entirely legal happy hour happens Tuesdays through Fridays, 5:30pm to 6:30pm, and includes a food menu with a couple of pizzas (one sausage, roasted mushrooms, and caramelized onions, with sage and oregano; the other a bianco with caramelized onions, chevre, mozzarella, fontina, and parmesan, both for $8), a flatbread perhaps, and a $7 Caesar or other rotating seasonal salad.

We sampled both pizzas—generously topped, elegantly crusted, very tasty (especially the bianco)—and the Caesar, which was shareably large with crisp romaine and a crackling vividness to the dressing. Libations were solid, and though none of us tried the pear fizz ($6)—pear puree, Dolin Blanc vermouth, cardamom bitters, soda, and cinnamon sugar at the rim—it looks like a fine tribute to the pleasures of autumn.

Was the tab (under $50 for two) the best part of all? We paid just under half-price for everything we ate and drank—so yes, on the getting-away-with-murder spectrum, we felt we logged in somewhere between voluntary manslaughter and malice aforethought. So to speak.

In other words...what are you doing tomorrow afternoon?

 

 

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