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Irish to the core
In the Cobblestone District, a taste of the Emerald Isle

The newest Irish pub in Buffalo is hard to find if you don't know where to look for it.

W.J. Morrissey's is nestled in an old industrial terminal on Mississippi Street, deep in the down-on-its-luck Cobblestone District.

It's around the corner, though not visible, from HSBC Arena and a bit north of the main home for Buffalo's Irish pubs.

The bar is the latest sign of the district's long-hoped-for revitalization, and its proprietors wanted to create the best approximation of an Irish tavern on these shores.

Owner Dennis Brinkworth III, who named the bar after his maternal grandfather, also runs Colter Bay Grill and Brink's Tavern.

For his newest bar, which opened just in time for St. Patrick's Day, he had to try to construct the sense of history that some South Buffalo pubs have come by honestly over time.

Brinkworth gutted the terminal and brought in the bar, moldings and furniture from Northern Ireland. A Dublin pub designer oversaw the work.

The results are impressive, with striking red mahogany for the bar and the walls around the restaurant.

It's a great re-use of the space and the perfect setting for enjoying a pint of beer.

I've visited twice for lunch, once dining on good chicken tenders and tasty fries and once watching a co-worker enjoy the cheeseburger that I should have ordered.

When I made plans to stop by for a recent Friday happy hour, however, I wondered how large a crowd Morrissey's would attract given its location.

Cobblestone Bar, just down the block, only opens for Sabres games and other events at HSBC Arena and stays closed when the building is unused.

I went on a night that saw Cirque du Soleil at the arena, so the crowd was pretty good. That's not always the case.

Our server, who wore a shamrock charm necklace, told us it was so empty the night before that the bartenders and servers fended off boredom by playing beer pong on the front lawn.

We found a few people sitting at the bar, indifferently watching golf on the ubiquitous flat-screen TVs mounted on the walls.

Guys in suits sat near guys in shorts and neither group looked too out of place.

We brought our drinks outside and grabbed a table on the long patio, which offers a view of the General Mills plant, the temporary Seneca casino and a large expanse of parking lot.

The downside of the patio, beside the smokers, arose when the noise from a loud motorcycle pulling away from a parking spot set off the car alarm of a nearby canary yellow Trans Am.

We ordered crab cakes with a spicy remoulade as an appetizer, but questioned whether that's an authentic Irish dish. "They have crabs in Ireland," a friend offered.

There might not be crabs in the Emerald Isle, but there's an Irish pub in Buffalo that's worth the trek to find it.

I hope it catches on, because it's evidence of what's possible if someone takes a chance on a part of Buffalo that is primed for a revival.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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>W.J. Morrissey's

30 Mississippi St.

Scene: An authentic Irish pub plopped, mahogany and all, in the Cobblestone District

Music: Live music following most Thursday at the Square concerts

Drinks: They'll pour the Guinness, properly, and all you have to do is drink it

Dress Code: Business casual for the lunch and happy-hour patrons. Jerseys for the Sabres game-night crowd.

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