It was a crisp, cool evening and the frost was almost on the pumpkin when Lindsay and I took a refreshing walk down Main Street in scenic East Aurora on the way to the East End Grill.
Doug, our agreeable bartender, served us up a pitcher of McSorley's Ale and a double of Canadian Club on ice for $17. Appearances are the first good foot in the right direction as far as this writer is concerned, and Doug's refreshingly crisp outfit included a striped tie and a formal, pressed button-down black shirt.
Our immediate neighbor at the bar had a Stoli vodka raspberry and tonic with her husband. They were cooling down after a parent/teacher conference for their two teenage boys and happily volunteered their advice on our upcoming nuptials.
Doug told us that the East End's owner, sporting a white baseball cap a few stools down on the rail, had been running the restaurant for two years. We also learned that Joe Shanahan, the host and lead performer for the Thursday open mic, was exceptionally adept at the blues; he grinded out the magic by opening with an extended cover of "Hoochie Coochie Man."
An entire anthropological selection of bottled domestic and exotic beers lined the shelf on the wall above the bar. Old, one-of-a-kind industrial lights illuminated the rail of the red oak bar, which was lined with baskets of free peanuts. Booths and larger group tables were lined along the back half of the cavernous building. Lindsay and I couldn't have been happier in this sort of environs.
The smell of steak from the kitchen kitty corner to where we were sitting was making us crazy, but our funds were strained. The smell of a fine cigar wafted in from the front stone patio and between that and the siren scent of the food, I was in heaven.
Joe launched into a wonderful cover of Eric Clapton's acoustic version of "Layla." We hit it off with the married couple next to us while Joe continued to rock on with Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." An older, bespectacled man in a tie grooved to the music side by side along the wall near the entrance with a grungier-looking bargoer in jeans and a natty-looking T-shirt.
The sort of camaraderie and spontaneous welcoming warmth and atmosphere at the East End Grill was electric, inviting and viral all at once. We'll certainly make a point to stop back.
East End Grill and Tap Room
701 Main St., East Aurora
Scene: A sprawling, massive colonial mecca with a pleasant cacophony of a clientele.
Music: Open mic Thursdays, live blues bands on Saturdays.
Drinks: A microbrewer's heaven on tap and bottle: McSorley's, Guinness, Blue Moon drafts along with 30 different bottled beers including Red Stripe and multiple blends of Sam Adams.
Dress Code: Nouveau upscale/dress down: studded denim jean jackets, light sweaters, flannels, or custom made three piece suits. Your choice.