St. Clouds Is Tacky, but the Booze Is Cheap

Although the dining room at St. Clouds in Madrona is warm, welcoming, and inviting, the bar is overlit and somewhat tacky, made tackier by cheesy-listening piped over the speakers a bit too loudly. While we were looking forward to making the trek to 34th and Union, the heart of Madrona's charming strip of small businesses, we were disappointed upon arrival after being told that the discounts are relegated strictly to the bar side during happy hour (5–6:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri.). A compromise in atmosphere is a small price to pay for booze on the cheap, however. And they make amends with attentive service and by offering every single drink on the menu (except full bottles of wine) at half price—so even top shelf rings in fairly low. Our Grey Goose dirty martinis ($4) were perfectly shaken with plump and juicy olives—just strong enough to take the edge off and whet the appetite. Sadly, like the dining room, all of the St. Clouds' food offerings are off limits in the way of happy hour cost cuts. But if you're willing to pay full price, mouthwatering plates abound. An appetizer plate of caramelized onion, grilled pear, and goat cheese bruschetta ($7.50) was perfectly crisp and oily, its flavors mingling on the palate. Spicy Thai lemongrass shrimp skewers ($9) looked tempting, as did the corn-flour-dusted calamari ($8.25) that went by. Full dinner items like slow-roasted ribs ($17.50) and parmigiano-crusted pork tenderloin ($19.50) seem worthy of a return visit. But with all the money saved on drinks in the bar, we'd recommend splurging and sitting in the dining room the second time around. 1131 34th Ave., 726-1522, www.stclouds.com. MADRONA Correction: In the print version, St. Clouds was incorrectly spelled St. Cloud's.

 
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