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Bucket of fun
Hucklebuckets is a down-home family sports bar

When it comes to bars and restaurants, I've heard of a hole in the wall but never a hole in the table. That's the unique premise of Hucklebuckets, the former O Restaurant and Lounge, in the Northtown Plaza in Amherst. While O was trendy and swanky in its time, Hucklebuckets is down-home and fun, featuring a casual atmosphere and a lively bar with attentive help.

Softly lit by lights enclosed in upside down brass buckets, the bar is stocked with ample shelves of vodka and other spirits. An electronic dart board is in a corner of the lounge area and an electronic jukebox sits by the entrance.

On a recent weeknight, craving some pub grub with flair, my husband and I settled into the spacious bar area. We opted for a tall table rather than a booth because it put us smack in the middle of multiple flat-panel TVs showing the Sabres game. Each table throughout the bar and adjoining dining room has a hole filled with a brightly colored bucket, which is the perfect vessel for ice, beer, finger foods and, come to think of it, anything served up in the kitchen. The buckets are a great conversation starter and a quick icebreaker with the staff, who are eager to explain the concept of the multiuse buckets.

I started the night with a Deep Bloo jartini ($7.50), made with vodka, Blue Curacao, melon liqueur, pineapple juice and blueberries. Served in a Mason jar, the colorful cocktail came with a blue-striped peppermint stick, perfect for swirling the flavors together. Dan went old school and ordered a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon ($3), a 16-ounce pounder that recalled his days downing PBRs in college. "A true flashback from the '70s," he said. Four PBRs in a bucket can be had for $10.

As we enjoyed our libations and watched another inconsistent performance by the Sabres, we eagerly awaited the bucket delivery of our chow. I had been to Hucklebuckets for a business lunch a few days before and enjoyed the grilled pear salad, but I opted for something heartier.

Emma, our helpful server, emerged from the kitchen with lined buckets of quesadillas, baked beans and ribs along with an order of divine sweet potato fries. Another bucket contained foil wrapped corn bread, still warm from the oven. You're encouraged to empty your bucket on a place mat or use the paper plates that are placed in a table caddy. As we ate and drank, we chatted with Nick at the bar, who was enjoying a pint of Great Lakes Conway Irish Ale ($4) in a traditional glass. Citing the "great bar atmosphere and the out-of-this-world Portobello fries," Nick said he'd be back again soon.

Two couples at a nearby table were socializing over a bucket of 20 wings and a pitcher of domestic beer for $22, happily tossing their bony remnants in the bucket. Daily Happy Hour bucket specials include $10 buckets with five bottles of domestic beer, $2 domestic drafts and $2.50 well drinks.

We finished our feast and tossed our used plates in the bucket, a great way to bus the table and clear out for the next round. A fun and lively place with a unique hook, put this spot on your bucket list.

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Hucklebuckets Family Grill & Sports Bar

3047 Sheridan Drive,Amherst

835-5540

Scene: Fun, unique concept evident on the menu and throughout the place. Friendly servers add to appeal.

Drinks: Buckets of domestic beers; plenty of spirits, not a wine bar. "Jartini" menu features at least a dozen martini varieties served in Mason jars.

Dress: From suits to T-shirts and everything in between.

Music: Touch Tunes jukebox; open mic night coming soon.