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Where do you eat when nobody’s eating?

I’m slurping a coffee from a nice handled glass ($1.83 after tax) at The Coffee Bean (160 West Broadway, 619-238-8047), sitting outside on their patio. Looking east towards Horton Plaza, listening to rumbles. Buses? No. My gut.

I kinda pull-focus to medium distance and notice this guy...

...and then the sign.

“Currant.”

Huh. Currant American Brasserie (140 West Broadway, downtown, 619-702-6309). It’s in that great old building where Greyhound used to be, and – back in the day - Art Linkletter himself used to broadcast from KGB, somebody just told me. Now the Sofia Hotel.

…Naa, I’m thinking. No way I could eat there and get out alive. Still, as they say, if you don’t speculate you can’t accumulate…

And guess what? “We’re starting at four,” says Amber, the barista when I come in, sit up to the bar, and ask her about happy hour.

That’s only five minutes away.

Cool. This CBS eye-shaped bar at the western end of the restaurant is pretty cool, too.

Twiddle my thumbs, look around. It reminds you of kinda Roaring Twenties. Chandeliers, white columns with red currants scattered around them. Lotsa likker bottles on head-level shelves, and a big deal about absinthe, the “Green Fairy” that drove Oscar, uh, Wilde, heh heh.

None

A blackboard outside advertises “Popcorn of the Moment, guajillo and gruyere.”

None

The happy hour menu has things like “classic mac and cheese,” ($5.50), and “croque monsieur,” the French ham and cheese sandwich ($6.75). Also – be still my heart – “moules frites,” – mussels. But they’re $8.95.

…Which, natch, is what I end up paying, and then some, for other cheaper stuff. Like, I have to order the popcorn ($3...

...and then get hooked by the $5.95 price for “beer can chicken sliders” with “Stone IPA gravy, chipotle slaw, Hawaiian buns.” The three of them come joined in one long breakable bun.

And I end up getting a Bud ($3) in an almost square glass. Cool.

Bottom line. Chicken fills you nicely, and has a pepper prickle, though I’m searching for that IPA flavor. Popcorn starts off boring at the top, but grows more interesting as you get down to that maybe-too-delicate cheesy thing at the bottom.

Happy hour goes from 4:00 p.m. till 7:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. till close, daily.

Good to know this is here. Specially after nine, when everything else is closing down.

And yes, you do feel kinda in with the big-talk business crowd, dividing their bar time between glugging martinis, flirting with Amber, chomping snacks, telling jokes and texting.

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