Any time the wind chill turns negative and the snow piles up higher than my waist, a small, toasty, well-stocked bar seems more than inviting. When we walked into B.K. Ryan's Irish Pub, we were greeted by all of the above -- as well as a sweet Irish blessing.
When we arrived around 9 p.m. on a Saturday, there was already a fully packed bar, and we were concerned it would be a while before the bartender would be free to take our drink order. We were happily surprised when he immediately spotted us and quickly served up a round. Our Corona, Guinness and Sam Adams (all $4, the latter two on tap) were crisp and cool. Although we stuck with beer, we noticed a decent liquor and wine selection as well.
The narrow bar pays homage to its Irish roots by carrying the subtle theme throughout. Forest green walls are adorned with small plaques and frames emblazoned with sweet Irish proverbs and maps, and the occasional four-leaf clover makes an appearance. This strong yet tasteful display of Irish pride was an appreciated alternative to the tacky interiors of other Irish bars that enjoy over-cluttering their walls with leftover St. Patrick's Day decorations. The bar's heritage was also appropriately reflected in the drink and menu selections; Smithwick's and Guinness were both on tap, and chicken pot pie, corned beef and soda bread were menu standards.
A polished, stone bar sat on the left, while the right offered a decent standing area and a couple of tables near the front. Flat-screen televisions sat at opposite ends of the bar, and one central television hung directly above the liquor selection. On the night we visited, they were showing a hockey game and golf tournament, but hardly anyone seemed to be paying attention to the screens.
Instead, patrons seemed to be focused solely on each other. The bar was separated into small clusters of friends and co-workers, all engaged in animated conversations. Although there is a hum of music that plays on an overhead sound system, the bar is dominated by constant laughter and chatter. A nice touch: B.K. Ryan's doubles as a restaurant, and the bar and sit-down tables are divided by a solid wall, containing sound and ensuring separate but equally enjoyable environments on both sides.
Within minutes of arriving, we knew we had found a great bar, but we couldn't exactly put our fingers on what made it so appealing. By the end of the night, we realized that it was the comfortable, friendly atmosphere that the bar offers -- and that its patrons offer. Several times during our stay, we were greeted by others as if were old friends, and the bartender greeted almost every person by name. We wanted a place to warm ourselves and our spirits, and we discovered an excellent option.
B.K. Ryan's Irish Pub
3191 Eggert Road, Tonawanda
Scene: Cozy neighborhood hangout with friendly service and crowd
Music: Dominated by conversation buzz, but Springsteen, U2 and the Allman Brothers were all enjoyed
Drinks: Wine, liquor and beer (six on tap, and bottled available)
Dress Code: Casual and relaxed; come as you are.