Downtown Minneapolis tea time, finally

Who says all the news is lousy? Starting Thursday, the Hotel Ivy (201 S. 11th St., Minneapolis, starwoodhotels.com) is offering what downtown Minneapolis has been sorely missing: a daily afternoon tea service. Fifteen dollars buys a pot of loose-leaf tea and an array of snacks and sweets from the hotel's Porter & Frye restaurant; for $22, the bar will add a glass of sparkling wine or sherry. Hours are 3 to 5 p.m., in the hotel's subdued street-level lobby.

A blast from the past

Adrienne Odom is back in town. The pastry chef, who made dining at the former Aquavit such a memorable experience -- and then did equally fine work at Solera and La Belle Vie -- has returned to the Twin Cities after a stint with her former Aquavit employers in New York City. Odom is celebrating her Minnesota homecoming with a one-night-only (March 22 at 7:30 p.m.) five-course dessert tasting menu at Cafe Maude's Armatage Room (5416 Penn Av. S., Minneapolis, thearmatageroom.com) that will start with a passionfruit curd-ricotta sorbet-tropical fruit carpaccio and end with a chocolate-caramel tart with an Earl Grey parfait; expect similarly elaborate deliciousness in between. Cost is $45 per person (with wine pairings); call 612-822-5411 for reservations.

Spanish food and wine

At Solera (900 Hennepin Av. S., Minneapolis, solera-restaurant.com), chefs J.P. Samuelson and Tim McKee are kicking off a series of monthly wine dinners next Thursday with an evening showcasing flavors from Spain's Castilla y Leôn. Cost for the eight-course dinner (with wine pairings) is $55 per person; call 612-338-0062 for reservations.

Deal of the week

Happy days are literally here again, as the happy hour is enjoying a resurgence in this down economy. One favorite is the early-bird rollicker at the Blue Door Pub (1811 Selby Av., St. Paul, thebluedoorpubmn.com). Every day from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., the kitchen cranks out $2 baskets of fabulous salt-flecked fries or Tater Tots, and the bar pulls down $2 tap beers from the likes of Surly, Rush River, Lift Bridge and Summit breweries. Don't leave without indulging in a Juicy Blucy, the BDP's superb take on the iconic cheese-stuffed burger.

RICK NELSON