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Tavern at Windsor Park serves great beer, food

Like the boorish London street urchin Eliza Doolittle of “My Fair Lady” who transformed into a refined noblewoman, we are happy to report that a closed Perkins on Transit Road is now the Tavern at Windsor Park.

Calling itself an “English Pub with an American twist,” the building sat vacant for two years. Co-owner Keith Morgan said it took around eight weeks to renovate before opening March 6.

The layout remains Perkins-esque, but it works. Morgan said they moved a wall back 2 feet to install the bar and taps. The walls were repainted, the wood restained and the floor replaced. There’s new kitchen equipment, too. The building now features wood accents, comfy booths and televisions showing sports at every possible vantage point.

With so many Irish pubs in the area (and because the plaza it resides in is Windsor Park North), Morgan was inspired to do an English theme. Friends suggested calling it “Bull & Bison” (as English pubs often use heraldic animal symbols), but Morgan already had filed the paperwork. So the beasts now appear in the tavern’s logo, happily holding a mug of beer between them.

The beer already was flowing at 5 p.m. when we arrived (ironically) St. Pat’s weekend. The large crowd was a nice mix, with a mature slant that bodes well for those seeking a relaxing night out.

The long, wooden bar has comfy stools. Additional seating runs along a long shelf that overlooks the dining area. In essence, folks can sit back-to-back at the bar, or turn to be friendly.

Liquor and wine are available, but the focus is on beer and food. With 48 on tap, the beer menu is long, but with good descriptors. A red-and-blue Union Jack icon highlights the British beers. Bartenders wear snappy red-and-blue plaid ties in the Jack’s colors.

In addition to English lagers and ales there are nitro brews, cask ales, American craft beers and local beers (denoted with the bison on a keg). The Tavern serves an “imperial pint” (20 ounces) with prices ranging from $5 to $8.50.

When one’s a beer novice, it’s best to pick something with an appealing name. So it was the U.K.’s Greene King Old Speckled Hen for me. (Inspiration from the image of a colorful chicken.) The surprisingly smooth beer was very drinkable.

Like a pigeon, Significant Other homed in on his fave, Cooperstown’s Ommegang Rare Vos. Our imperial pub glasses were darling, with a little bulge below the rim to help with grip. Sig O’s parents and aunt stuck with that great American beer, Bud Light.

The music and crowd noise was low enough to allow for normal conversation. Plenty of folks devoured appetizers as they chatted away at the bar.

The food menu features a nice mix of British and American choices. From Scotch Eggs, Pork Pie and Fish and Chips to meat loaf, mac and cheese and turkey pot pie, there is something for everyone, including burgers (a “Bob’s Your Uncle” version), pizzas, sandwiches and dinners. We did sit and eat. The food was really good, especially for a place that just opened.

Tavern at Windsor Park aims to serve great food and beer. They do both, with a nice atmosphere and excellent service to boot. The next time you find yourself in need of a place to hang with your mates, we recommend the Tavern at Windsor Park.

Tavern at Windsor Park

Where: 8444 Transit Road, Amherst (689-6600, tavernatwindsorpark.com).

Scene: A friendly, relaxed pub for beer drinkers with a sports backdrop.

Dress: Nice jeans and shirts OK (but not something to herd Leicester sheep in).

Drinks: More than 48 tap beers, domestic and specialty bottled beer, wine, mixed drinks.

Kitchen hours (bar open later): Open daily at 11 a.m., until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; midnight Friday and Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Extras: Happy hour is 4 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday with $1 off house wines and well drinks and $1.50 off imperial pints (20 ounces, served in Imperial English pub glasses). A hand-pulled cask is coming. Plans to show English soccer matches. Single, cork dartboard. Idyllic English cottage photos in the ladies’ room.

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