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Clarklewis Happy Hour

Name: clarklewis
Location: 1001 SE Water Street
Portland, OR 97214
Contact Information: 503.235.2294
Web Address: www.ripepdx.com
Smoke Free: Yes
Happy Hour: Monday-Thursday 5 p.m.-6 p.m.
Features: $4 cocktail of the day, $4 well drinks, $1.5 Miller High Life, choice of ten small bite appetizers
Insider Tip: Don’t waste your time. There are equally nice places with far better prices in Portland.

Review: Happy hour is a recent introduction to this snazzy restaurant that opened to rave reviews in 2004. The innovative and creative restaurant received “Restaurant of the Year” honors from the Oregonian and mention from the New York Times. Clarklewis may be fine and dandy for dinner, but for happy hour, this place is definitely a pass.

The setting in an old warehouse, low seating and stark decor at this restaurant scream “I’m too trendy for you” while waiters and waitresses act the part. The restaurant is far too cool for capital letters in either their name or on their index card-sized happy hour menu, so be prepared to squint.

For a drink I had the raspberry kamikaze – the cocktail of the day. Although tasty, it was closer to $4 juice than a drink with alcohol. A larger glass would have allowed the waitress to avoid the ‘wearing a while shirt and carrying a small drink filled to the brim with red liquid’ issue. I was surprised to discover the special on Miller High Life – don’t they know that PBR is the trendy nasty beer in Portland?

The menu had approximately ten ‘small bite’ options. Here is where I must confess that I am used to serving sizes that allow me to order two appetizers and count that as a meal. Not at clarklewis. Of the options, only three were vegetarian: the bread with butter and sea salt ($3), the bruschetta ($4) and the basil and squash ravioli ($9). We ordered all of them. The bread, from Ken’s, was woefully inadequate for the amount of butter presented. The bruschetta was a large slice of bread with olive oil, basil and fresh mozzarella. Both of these were fine items. However, the biggest shock was the presentation of my three (3!) ravioli.

Now, you may be wondering, were these massive ravioli? Were they topped in a lobster creme? Did they sing and dance on my place? The answer to all three of these questions would be a resounding “NO”. Served al dente, they were tasty but unremarkable. I’ll go with Linda McCartney’s Butternut Squash Ravioli next time, thank you very much. This may be an excellent place to impress a corporate client but clarklewis definitely fails for happy hour.