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.
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?