by: DENISE FARWELL, Aron Tipton has his cards read by Regina LaRocca on a recent Gypsy Thursday at Maiden in the Mist, where live jazz caps the night.

Although it occupies a windowed corner spot formerly occupied by a nondescript Asian restaurant, Maiden in the Mist feels like a Mediterranean tavern. This cozy, casual newcomer to the Southeast bar scene is dark - but not too dark - and inviting; it's the perfect neighborhood hangout.

With a specialty drink menu that's loaded with fruit, you'll never worry about getting scurvy here. And if you come on Gypsy Thursdays, you can get your fortune told.

Cocktails with names like the Mast Head (fresh orange and lime juice and Sauza tequila served straight up with a sugared or salted rim) and 'North Star' (Mount Gay rum and pineapple juice) add to Maiden in the Mist's vaguely pirate-y vibe.

The Walk the Plank (Monopolowa vodka and Baileys with a sugared rim) goes down so easily you'll need to be careful you're still capable of standing. The Trim the Winch (fresh muddled mint, fresh lime juice, blackberry purée and Mount Gay rum served straight up) is lip-smackingly tart and delicious, but the Red Tide (blood orange purée, fresh lemon juice and Monopolowa vodka served straight up with a sugared rim) tastes oddly like baby aspirin.

Owner Sheila Baraga used to be a partner at the Sapphire Hotel, and both bars have the vibe of well-worn hideaways - ideal spots to slip into and slip away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

Maiden in the Mist's weathered wood floors, dark walls, red tables and hanging lanterns give off a warm glow, an atmosphere that's furthered by the friendly bar staff.

Get here early and you might find yourself surrounded by tables of families or co-workers winding down after the workday. The bar seems to foster a feeling of relaxed camaraderie.

Food here leans toward the Mediterranean - Greek, Caesar and spinach salads, chicken and eggplant sandwiches, fettuccine, salmon. Stock up on napkins if you order the finger-licking good pork ribs in the curry ponzu sauce.

Almost every night, Maiden in the Mist has something special brewing. Mondays are $1 beer and jazz from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesdays patrons can feast on slider burgers and beer for $5.

The bar's specialty cocktails are reduced to $6 on 'Sure Thing Wednesdays,' and if you stick around after having your fortune told on Thursdays, you'll be treated to live jazz.

While Mondays usually give us the blues, Maiden in the Mist instead celebrates 'Blue Fridays,' with live blues from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Happy hour runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and features $3 beer and well drinks, $4 glasses of Maiden in the Mist red or white wine, and $1 off food. But in a place this inviting and relaxed, every hour feels like a happy one.

- Barbara Mitchell

639 S.E. Morrison St., 503-232-5553, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday

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