Residents of Buffalo and the surrounding areas are professional sports enthusiasts without a doubt. But are we a hockey town or a football town? On a recent Friday evening, my sister-in-law Terri and I found a crowd heavily in favor of the hockey town title at the Center Ice Sports Bar & Grill on Transit Road in East Amherst.
The square-shaped bar was almost to capacity when Terri and I found two available stools. Any seat was a good one for viewing the game on one of the multiple flat-screen televisions perched around the perimeter of the dining area and above the bar.
The place was hopping as I ordered a pint of Troegs HopBack Amber Ale ($5.50) after tasting and deciding against the Stone Brewing Co.'s Arrogant Bastard Ale (it was a bit strong for my taste). Terri went with a glass of Yellow Tail Pinot Noir ($3.50).
A few seats to our right, a couple of distinguished gentlemen were enjoying beverages while chatting it up about the ensuing Sabres game. A younger couple to our left enjoyed appetizers. A few collegiate-aged guys seemed to lift their pints of beer in unison. The thirtysomething fan base was well represented, too. It looked like an NHL apparel commercial as everyone seemed to be sporting some sort of Sabres garb.
The place was buzzing with excitement as the game got under way. The Sabres quickly scored a goal and Dina, one of four congenial bartenders, grabbed an air horn and gave it a blast that jolted a few unsuspecting customers. While she was handing out a raffle ticket for that goal, a mere 16 seconds later the Sabres scored another goal and again Dina blasted the air horn. I finished my pint and went for a more familiar beer, a bottle of Molson Canadian ($3.50), while Terri ordered another glass of pinot noir. We chatted about our families, her boys and my girls, while reveling in recent anecdotal familial events as we watched the hockey game.
As the evening progressed, I saw someone familiar and confirmed that it was former Buffalo Sabre Dave Andreychuk. I quickly suppressed the childlike fan within and decided not to bother him for an autograph or photo. I have no regrets.
The Sabres won the game and Terri and I decided to call it an evening and head for home.
Center Ice Sports Bar & Grill has convinced me that this is a hockey town, at least for that Friday evening. Be sure to stop by for a drink, a bite to eat and enjoy the hockey-themed atmosphere.
Center Ice Sports Bar & Grill
9380 Transit Road, East Amherst 810-9394
On tap: Labatt Blue, Labatt Blue Light, Sam Adams, Troegs HopBack Amber Ale, Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale, Sixpoint Brownstone, Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale and Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA.
Scene: One word -- hockey!
Happy hour: $1 off all drinks from 4 to 7 p.m. daily.
Dress code: Be comfortable in your Buffalo Sabres attire from hats to team jerseys, both old and new.
Hours: Opens at 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; at noon on Friday through Sunday.