Happy Hour At A'Vert Feels Like A Vacation

Happy hour at A'Vert in West Hartford offers a weekday bar menu, available 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and just until 6 on the weekends, with smaller portions of its decadent plates at prices that allow for widespread sampling.

Forget about nachos, sliders and wings. You need to be eating escargot at happy hour.

Sure, West Hartford's restaurants have impressed as of late with post-work weekday offerings, including $1 oysters, steamed pork belly buns and authentic Spanish tapas. But it's hard to resist snails cooked in their shells, bathed in garlic and parsley butter and served in a cast-iron dish with the sauce still hot and bubbling. And where better to enjoy this delicacy than a traditional brasserie?

A'Vert has impressed since its fall opening in the center, bringing a welcome change of pace to the area with its elegant French cuisine. The sibling to northern Italian Treva on Farmington Avenue (spell 'Treva' backwards) offers a weekday bar menu, available 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and just until 6 on the weekends, with smaller portions of its decadent plates at prices that allow for widespread sampling.

So maybe snails aren't your thing. (Fine, more for the rest of us.) How about tartine de thon with toasted sourdough, duck confit rillette on baguette slices, fresh chevre with aged balsamic? Or a petite Croque monsieur, otherwise known as the best ham and cheese sandwich you'll ever taste. There's a green salad with shallots, radish and mustard dressing if you're being healthy, and housemade potato chips or pommes frites with aioli if you're not. And there's even a small cheese and charcuterie board, with chef's choice of four meats and cheeses and accoutrements of mustard, dried fruit and nuts.

All of these bar plates are $3 to $7, affordable enough for another round of tastes. And that's exactly what we did - with 12 minutes left in the happy-hour stretch; we requested a second perfect serving of snails, readying our tongs and forks and extra bread for sopping up spills of herbed buttery liquid.

Drink specials are $3 to $6: draft beer, French reds and whites by the glass and cocktails: a peach tea, Tom Collins, Westside with citrus vodka, a timeless French martini and a lovely Kir Royale.

Our server also sold us on that evening's dessert special: a chocolate peanut butter parfait crowned with whipped cream and finished with sea salt.

The best happy hours are the ones that feel like short vacations: You leave relaxed, happy and full of gourmet food. While that jaunt to Paris may be out of reach, an evening at A'Vert will do nicely.

A'Vert Brasserie is at 35A Lasalle Road in West Hartford. Happy hour is 4 to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 4 to 6 p.m. Friday to Sunday. 860-904-6240, avertbrasserie.com.