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Breaking tradition; Jack Devine's South has created its own version of an Irish pub

In this town, there are a handful of large scale, maximum-capacity party bars as well as a generous cross-sample of traditional Irish pubs. Jack Devine's South has somehow created a splendid hybrid from the two existing blueprints and come up with truly tremendous results. This cross-breed has managed to weed out the undesirable traits from each existing template while retaining and improving upon the qualities of both bar blueprints. Consider Jack's as the Secretariat of Irish party pubs.

Hamburg is known for its share of large-scale clubs, late-night pubs and party destinations. The crowd is mostly young, exuberant and always up for a marathon night on the town. Jack Devine's South formerly and very briefly Lauderdale's caters to the very same crowd as well as the rest of the populace: those of us in our 30's and beyond who have a seasoned palate, midshelf tastes and a penchant for live music that entertains without making our eardrums bleed.

Chris, Ed and I stopped by recently expecting a raucous, willy-nilly party environs. What we discovered was a sophisticated crowd beyond the age of shots by the dozen or backward baseball caps. Mike our neighbor on the rail told us about the great selection of reasonably priced wines.

Chris kept up with college basketball on a dozen different well-positioned flatscreen televisions while Ed and I focused our attention on John Culliton Mahoney, a long-standing Buffalo musician who won us over with a medley of covers, traditional ballads and original songs. Mahoney performed from a raised stage behind us with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica. Ed who's seen him before many times requested "In My Mother's Eyes," an original ballad that gained a great deal of national success a few years ago.

Our habitat was sophisticated and unique. From a stamped-tin ceiling to the ornate woodwork throughout the building to a one-of-a-kind polished stone bar, they've improved upon what works for an Irish pub in terms of the right environment. Chris and I stepped out on the stone patio and studied the outdoor bar, where they'll be serving up bottled beers on ice along with steamed clams this summer during live concerts on a full stage.

While the bar offered more than two dozen bottled beers and a well-researched cross section of drafts McSorley's, Killians, Guinness and Magic Hat , we defaulted on a pitcher of Labatt Blue Light, two doubles of Tullamore Dew whiskey and a vodka and tonic for Ed. Dan a bartender with tousled hair and a winning grin treated us to a shot of whiskey.

As the night progressed, the three of us sampled more than our fair share of signature dishes on the menu. Reuben potato skins an incredible idea were to die for, the Jamaican Jerk wings were crispy on the outside and moist on the inside and the shepherd's pie was the best I've had in a decade. Ed's buddy Rich bought us a top-shelf shot of Middleton whiskey a staple on the Emerald Isle and we found it to be smooth, strong and blended to perfection.

Going out with good friends is almost always a recipe for a fun night. Jack Devine's South drove our evening over the top. Their personable and professional staff, comparable prices, great live entertainment, beautiful interior and unique menu made the usual night out unusually captivating.

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Jack Devine's South,

4170 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg 649-9190

Quick impression: The love child of a party bar and an old Irish tavern.

Drink specials: Happy hour from noon to 7 p.m. $2.50 bottles of beer, $2.50 well drinks and a diverse selection of wines starting at $5.50.

Pub grub to die for: Reuben Potato Skins and Shepherd's Pie.

Live music: John Culliton Mahoney, Mary Resnick and John Lombardo from the 10,000 Maniacs , Chris Maloney and Disco Duck.

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