The Zig Zag Cafe

For such a modish venue, it's odd that the Zig Zag hasn't had a happy hour until recently, and fitting that the one they have now (from 5 to 7 p.m. weeknights) is itself pretty odd. It starts with the food; instead of discounting regular menu items, the Zig Zag sets up a little table in a darkish corner of the room—not that any corners are exactly brightly lit—and deploys a basket of sliced baguette and some plates of anonymous delicacies. For $4, you are allowed to load up a smallish plate with a selection and return to your booth to try to figure out what they are. Sometimes it's easy: I recently saw some substantial sautéed scampi. A lump with a toothpick in it turned out to be some lively lamb sausage. Other times the ID can be tough: mystery meats both fleshy and fishy, of indeterminate color and ambiguous texture. Tasty enough; but some people just don't like eating something they can't put a name to. In the drinks department, with veteran cocktail conjurer Murray Stenson behind the bar, Zig Zag shines, but here, too, there's a catch. Instead of just presenting a specific happy-hour lineup, Zig Zag lets you order pretty much anything, and then subjects the prices to various mysterious discounts and surcharges. The result is a tab that can read like an SAT math problem. If you're the kind that likes to check the bill, be sure to bring a pocket calculator. 1501 Western Ave. (on the Pike Place Market Hillclimb), 206-625-1146. DOWNTOWN

 
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