The Pitch Bar is the latest amenity at the ever-expanding South Park Avenue campus of Parker's, which includes a fish and chips shop and meat pie factory. It's eight acres of British bliss.
The bar overlooks the area that will soon be Parker's new soccer and rugby "pitch," the British word for an athletic field. The bar opened in late November while the pitch's irrigation system was still being installed.
We sat at the bar made of hand-cut and lacquered Brazilian wood, where Yorkshire expat Damian Parker, co-owner with his wife, Vicky, happened to be relaxing with a pint. We sipped brews British - Fuller's London Pride - and local - a Hamburg Brewing Co. seasonal - while watching a Champions League match replay on one of three flat-screen TVs.
In addition to the battered cod and chips ($13), we sampled a battered sausage and chips ($10) and one of Parker's "pies of the day." On our day, the pie choices were beef and onion and "Buffalonian," filled with a tantalizing mix of hot sauce and shredded chicken.
The fried, battered fish doused in vinegar was perfection - and in the land where fish fries are king, that's saying something. The sausage was crispy on the outside and oh-so-tender on the inside.
We were a bit skeptical of the Buffalonian, which was sitting with its friends in a heated case. But we were pleasantly surprised by its just-right temperature and flaky crust.
The fish and sausage arrived on beds of fries, excuse me, "chips," which weren't what you'd call mushy, but definitely can't be called crispy. They might take some getting used to for an American palate. We were a bit disappointed not to see mushy peas on the menu; the British favorite would have been nice as a bit of vegetable.
Yes, most of our meal was fried, but the good kind of fried; the kind that doesn't leave you feeling like an oily, gross blob after.
Fish and chips is traditionally served wrapped up in newspaper. But these selections were delivered to the bar fresh and hot packaged in a box from the shop on the opposite side of the building. It's a minor quibble.
Also, having packets of condiments instead of bottles or cups was a bit disappointing, especially because it's really hard to open those dang packets with greasy fingers.
Additional menu options included the fish sandwich and chips ($9) and a "chip butty," which Parker explained as a uniquely British concoction consisting of chips between bread slices.
For this disciple of Leo Burdock Fish & Chips in Dublin who also has fond memories of that one place in Holyhead, Wales, this is as authentic fish and chips as you will find stateside.
A pint, a pie and football on the telly. This is pub grub from its origins across "the pond" plopped down in South Buffalo at its best and most satisfying.
Parker's plans are ambitious: stadium seating with 18 international restaurants ringing the pitch to serve nearby Solar City workers and the community. We can't wait for the transformation. And a seat at the Pitch Bar will be a great place to watch.
Info: The Pitch Bar, 1216 South Park Ave., 823-3772