Cafe Bink: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Cafe Bink, 36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree. (480) 488-9796. www.cafebink.com

The Hours: 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

The Details: They've made it easy: All well drinks, beer (draft and bottle), and wine is 50% off. That brings a glass of the San Tan Sex Panther Double Chocolate Porter - unbelievably rich, creamy, and delightfully named - down to only $2.50. But it's the extensive wine list where Cafe Bink really excels, and having access to the full selection at half off is no small treat. The happy-hour appetizer menu looks a lot like the regular Midday Menu with lower prices: Choose between ample salads for only $4, favorites like the Country Pate and Waygu Burger for $7, and four sliders for only $2.50 each (served with your choice of house-made chips or salad).

The Interior: Inside, Cafe Bink looks like a sleek urban bistro - short on space, but heavy on style. It's divided between the bar on the left and the line of tables on the right, finished in dark woods with bold red accents. But the real scene-stealer here is the patio: Picturesque to say the least - with house sparrows chirping softly in a gently rustling Mesquite tree - it would be downright utopian if not for the traffic on adjacent Tom Darlington Drive (the one that eventually turns back into Scottsdale Road).

The Cost: Three apps, one slider, and two draft beers comes out to just under $25, before tax and tip.

The Conclusion: When we heard last week that Cafe Bink - our favorite little sibling to the chic and foodie-friendly Binkley's Restaurant - was doing a happy hour, we could hardly wait to try it out. Getting access to the creations of award-winning Chef Kevin Binkley without a reservation and an ascot already felt like a gift; now it's mid-afternoon robbery. From the Baby Greens salad, with dates and pecans far outpacing its $4 price, to our Best of Phoenix fries of 2009 (a large portion for only $5), to the scenic atmosphere and attentive service (including complimentary focaccia with oil & vinegar for dipping, and water that never ran out), Cafe Bink never let us down. It only falls short in the hours, which we'd like to see extended - either later or to at least one weekend day - to better welcome those with non-tee-time-friendly day jobs.

Overall Grade: A

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