Skip the links; go straight for the drinks.

THE FIRST I HEARD of Bernard's was when a friend commented that her stomach hurt after lunching on a greasy Reuben sandwich. I asked where she'd procured the offending corned beef and sauerkraut, and she mentioned a little dive that she both loves and hates, an underground-dungeon-style diner with a "lords-and-ladies theme." Lords-and-ladies theme? Dungeon-style diner? Underground? I ignored her gastronomical grievance, and after some back-and-forth, we agreed to meet there the following day. Bernard's isn't exactly underground like those places on that ridiculous tour, but it is underneath the Hotel Seattle. And, happily, it is like a dungeon; the huge, heavy doors have wrought-iron detailing, and a 2-by-4 plank, when slid into its wrought-iron pockets, serves as a lock. A handful of stairs lead down to the dining room, which is lit, poorly, by some goofy torchlike sconces. Ceiling lamps in the style of medieval candelabra hang over the tables and a Canterbury Tales- esque mural adorns the rear wall. And if all this isn't enough to charm you into submission, they've got sausages. Miles and miles of sausages. The Assorted Sausage for Two goes for $4.95, and what you get are the odds and ends from various kielbasa, bratwurst, and knockwurst links. The tidbits are stuck with fancy toothpicks and then tossed onto a bed of iceberg and grouped with a ragtag team of mustard jars. Ours came lukewarm. (The "hot" German potato salad, for $1.50, was lukewarm, tooand also very vinegary and unpleasant.) The aforementioned sausage varieties are available whole in a number of different arrangements from sandwiches to omelets to skewers, and you'd be hard-pressed to spend more then six bucks on any. In addition to sausage, Bernard's serves burgers and hot and cold sandwiches, and again, if you have more than a five-spot burning a hole in your pocket, you might not be able to spend it all here. They also have breakfast; it's greasy. And I'm sorry to say that, during the day at least, the service really stinks. Can I recommend any single item on Bernard's menu? Absolutely not. Do I recommend going there anyway? Absolutely, and here's why: happy hour. I know of no better one in all of downtown. Every night at Bernard's from 4:30 to 7, the well drinks and martinis are a mere two bucks each. And on the evening when I first found this out, there were mozzarella sticks for free. Buckets of them. As it turns out, there are always gratis appetizers at happy hour. Happy indeed. Tuesday and Friday are reserved for pizza and wings, respectively, but other than that, the evening's snack is the, uh, chef's choice. Sure, the mozzarella sticks are lukewarm, but who's going to complain about that when there's a bottomless vat of them, the drinks are as cheap as they are strong, and you're sitting in a blissfully windowless room full of flickering flame-shaped lightbulbs? Not me, friends, not me.

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