The happy hour at Contour (807 First Ave, 447-7704) is long and generous, running from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. I show up at 4:00 p.m. with a book and an appetite. Inside it's nearly empty. Four couples occupy each corner of the main room, while a lone man sits at the bar beside two single women, who are flirting with the bartender. When someone yells, "Hey beautiful!" to get the waitress's attention, four women in the room look up expectantly.
The room is dimly lit with tableside candles, while the bar itself is a beacon of light and glittery booze. On my waitress's recommendation, I order the lamb kebabs with tabouli salad and tzatziki dip ($1.95), and Gruyère mac 'n' cheese with shrimp ($1.95). "Just holler at any of us if you need anything else," she says. I suck down a double vodka-cranberry ($3.50, $7 for my double) and enjoy the art around the room—large paintings of stick-thin ballerinas, seminudes, and a few colorful groin shots.
My food comes and it is very satisfying—the lamb kebabs are greasy and wonderfully seasoned, and I nearly drink the tzatziki. The mac 'n' cheese has a rich, beerlike flavor thanks to the strong Gruyère, while the shrimp are perfectly cooked.
Happy hour at Nectar (412 N 36th St, 632-2020) runs from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. every night, and is less happy. I hit Nectar on a Friday. With three bars—outside, downstairs, and upstairs—the place is packed. The outside bar with space heaters looks like an ideal spot to drink and lounge on a cool fall evening, but it is full. I find a lone table in the back near the window on the main floor. It takes me a while to order my vodka-cranberry ($4) and hummus plate ($3). The waitress is nice, but obviously more concerned with pleasing her bigger tables.
Once I order, a fat man at the crowded table next to me yells, "Hey, are you using that table?" Without the table, I would be left with a solitary chair in the corner. "Um, yeah," I say. He rolls his eyes at me. I roll my eyes back at him. He continues to stare, so I draw a noose on my napkin and dash out the spaces to spell "Y-O-U S-U-C-K" in case he wants to play hangman. He does not.
My drink, when it eventually comes, is on the weak side. My hummus plate is light on the pita. I rush through both because I want to leave. Then I hear the man at the table next to me—the same fat man whose unfortunate crew cut makes his head resemble a Lego piece—call me a "bitch heart." His table laughs. They are all eyeing my table greedily.
Instead of leaving, I flag down the waitress and order a pitcher of beer ($7) and a pizza ($5), which I slowly polish off. It takes me all evening. My pitcher grows warm and flat, and the pizza reminds me of Totino's only with fancier ingredients, but I lounge at my goddamned table all night until the fat man and his posse leave because I am, indeed, a bitch at heart.