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Vincent on Camelback: Happy Hour Report Card

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Each week, we venture to a new restaurant to check out what the spot has to offer during our favorite time of day — happy hour. Whether it's affordable appetizers, delicious drinks, jaw-dropping deals, or none of the above, we'll check out the situation and report back.

The Spot: Vincent on Camelback
3930 East Camelback Road
602-224-0225
www.vincentsoncamelback.com

The Hours: Happy hour is offered from 4 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, in “Bleu,” the bar and lounge area of Vincent’s main restaurant.

Perfect For: When you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go. Don’t rush Vincent’s on your way to something else; this place is a special occasion in and of itself, and you will want happy hour to stretch long into the evening.

The Interior: If the Dowager Countess had a home in the south of France, her salon might look something like the bar and lounge area of Vincent’s. The French blue walls that give the spot its name are adorned with paintings, wine bottles, and restaurant memorabilia (Vincent’s celebrates its 30th anniversary this year). The bar itself is small, with a handful of chairs and pretty bottles of high-end liquor admiring themselves in the mirror behind the bartender. It’s perfect for intimate conversation or clinking champagne glasses to celebrate something special. Alternatively, you could sink into a cushy leather chair or the fancy, mismatched, high-backed loveseats in the lounge and enjoy the view of the glittering Eiffel Tower while you dine. It’s displayed on a plasma TV mounted to the wall, but still; if a trip to France isn’t in the cards this year, Vincent’s is the next best thing.
The Food: Bleu has its own menu of “bites,” completely separate from the main restaurant’s dinner offerings. Fortunately for patrons of happy hour, the smaller menu is still quite lengthy, and provides exactly what has made owner and chef Vincent Guerithault so successful all these years: a romantic marriage of French haute cuisine and Southwestern flavor. There aren’t many menus that boast a croque monsieur with bleu cheese ($6) next to a smoked salmon quesadilla ($14). And because it’s Vincent’s, you know each dish will be flawlessly executed and presented beautifully, like our gruyère gougères ($4, and lighter than air) or our macaroni and white cheddar ($6, or $10 if you add lobster, and why wouldn’t you?).
There are actually too many other food items on the menu to list here, each with their own array of options (for example: four different types of wood-fired pizzas, each $10, or five different salads, each $6). But rather than feeling overwhelmed by choice, we were simply disappointed that our wallets (and our stomachs) would only let us go so far.
The Drinks: Like the food at Bleu, the drink menu is elegant in its simplicity, divided into bubbles, reds, whites, and rosès. We didn’t see a beer list and didn’t even think to ask; we like a good brew as much as the next homme, but at Vincent’s, we drink wine. And at 50 percent off the normal pricing, we drank a lot of it. Our first selection was a JCB, a sparkling rosé that would have been appropriately priced at $15 a glass, but felt downright scandalous at the $7.50 we paid during happy hour. When we asked our server to help us choose between two options for a glass of white wine, she politely but firmly pointed us in the right direction, and her description was right on the money. Our Schlumberger tasted much better than it sounds, and at $5 (normally $10) it felt like we were stealing it.
A cocktail list was also included on the Bleu menu, with classics like the French 75 ($12) and originals like the Camelback Spritz ($9) but alas, the 50 percent discount did not apply to those beauties. Mind you, that didn’t stop us from getting a Cosmo Parisienne ($12) and enjoying the je ne sais quoi out of it.

Conclusion: Vincent’s on Camelback technically has three venues on property: The main restaurant (which is fancy), the Bistro (which is less so), and Bleu. If Goldilocks found herself at 40th and Camelback, she would almost certainly tuck into happy hour at Bleu, which offers the exceptional cuisine of Vincent’s and prices competitive with any Arcadia hotspot. The service is excellent and unpretentious, and the ambience classy, discreet, and one-of-a-kind in Phoenix. And if you can’t trust Goldilocks, who can you trust?

Don’t Miss: Going for broke on the wine menu. The only time ordering a $12 glass of G.H. Mumm during happy hour is acceptable is when it's normally $25 a glass. Go ahead, live like a one percenter.

Skip This: Wearing flip flops and cargo shorts. While Vincent’s succeeds in taking the intimidation out of French food, this is still a classy place. Your server will be in black tie, so you better at least comb your hair.

Grade: A

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