The Place: Thai Fusion Restaurant & Lounge , 15 Nickerson St, (206) 285-1020 QUEEN ANNE

The Hours: Daily, 3 to 6 p.m.

The Deal: Thai


Thai Fusion's Happy Hour Probably Meets Your Needs

The Place: Thai Fusion Restaurant & Lounge, 15 Nickerson St, (206) 285-1020 QUEEN ANNE

The Hours: Daily, 3 to 6 p.m.

The Deal: Thai Fusion's happy hour menu offers $1 French fries, or for the big spenders various appetizers and small plates are $3.95. $3.95 can also get you drafts, Andes Crossing Malbec or Roundhill Chardonnay. A selection of martini specials go for $5 each. To clarify, by "martini" I mean "'tini" -- these are called things like Mangopolitan and Blueberry Sake Tini.

While they are generous enough to offer happy hour daily, take note that Monday through Wednesday the deal expands to include $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys and $1 chicken satay, which means you can get dinner for around $5 and still leave with around 64 ounces of beer in you. Not a bad deal.

Their sandwich board outside also boasts "$5 Happy Endings." Presumably, this refers to their $5 desserts -- which are just $5 all the time. Unless there's some other happy ending special they're not letting me in on.

The Digs: Thai Fusion rests on the West Nickerson Street no man's land at the crux of Fremont, Queen Anne, Interbay and Ballard. Despite it being Friday of finals week at SPU two blocks away, business is gentle. Most customers are part of a post-sporting party of 15 or a table of older tourists taking photos, and everyone is here to eat, not drink.

Decor is sparse, mostly wooden accents and small framed portraits, with the exception of two things. There's a gargantuan elephant painting keeping watch over the liquor, stretching about five feet wide, and a small fountain in the corner of the bar that's so short you might miss it. All of these are at odds with the bar itself, which is made of an imposing black marble that feels more like sitting at a stranger's kitchen island than sinking into your local barstool. The music is something clubby to match the 'tinis.

The clash of the decorations is about where ambiance problems end. The staff is brisk but friendly, and seem genuinely invested in the place. Their specialty cocktails are up in about five seconds, somehow. A little patio for when it's sunny and a wall of windows facing the canal make it just an easy place to be.

The Verdict: Thai Fusion does have a bit of an identity crisis: part delivery joint, part business lunch emporium, part bar. As a sit-down experience, the place is stretched pretty thin. But at the heart of all this, where it counts, they deliver.

The Fresh Summer Rolls, one of those $3.95 appetizers, come with this almost jarringly amazing peanut sauce, warm and freshly mixed. The rolls themselves, just the basics -- tofu, lettuce, cucumber and carrot -- carry it perfectly.

Even the 'tinis are refreshingly, unexpectedly crisp. The Cucumber Pear Tini, while a basically inoffensive drink, benefits from a little cucumber pulp and is not too sweet. The Thai Orchid Blossom, like a stripped-down Zombie, combines pineapple, cranberry, raspberry and vodka, but doesn't even have a shadow of syrupy taste.

As much as the identity crisis works against Thai Fusion at first impression, it does manage to pull off a few different things with the happy hour: cheap wine and drafts for the business parks across the street, cheap chicken and beer for the youths, and the 'tinis for... oh, probably also the youths. I have faith that it can hold onto all these identities as it grows -- but having a few regulars wouldn't hurt.

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