The name "Taps" has a lot to live up to. Consider it the dining equivalent of something like Canada's "beer store" -- if that's your moniker, you'd better be prepared to bring it, or face the consequences.
That's why I'm happy to say that when it comes to beer, Taps Restaurant at the Walden Galleria Mall brings it, indeed. This is a great selection, folks, and it means that Taps is different from any other establishment at the mall.
Bar Louie's brew selection, for example, simply does not compare, and I doubt anyone would expect the Cheesecake Factory to surprise us with its taps.
So perhaps a void is being filled here: a mall spot somewhere between high- and low-end in which a beer snob can be satisfied, an adequate meal can be inhaled and a game can be watched.
The bar is one of your first sights at Taps, housed in the mall's old Ruby Tuesday's site, and it's lovely, a large, comfortable, three-sided creation with nearby booths.
During my first visit, we decided to eat, and sat in the nearby dining area. We noticed tchotchkes on the wall, no team pennants or license plates or "vintage" photos. I'd call that tastefully simply, as long as lots and lots of flat-screen televisions don't bother you. (I call them a plus.)
Does the lack of zany decoration, thumping '80s music, and low lighting mean a restaurant is geared more toward adults? Possibly, although we saw several children during our visit.
I discovered one big negative quickly: the beer menu does not denote what's available on draft. While you can sit at the large bar and see for yourself (as I did during my second visit), my guess is most folks will stumble in after a painful day of mall shopping, and want to dine, as well as drink.
Our server during visit No. 1 easily reeled off the draft options, but it would not be hard to add this detail to the menu; the Bar Louie menu does this, and I would encourage Taps to do the same.
Not knowing meant that my first two orders -- Sierra Nevada and Southern Tier Pale Ale -- were bottle only. Not a huge problem, as my next pick, a Southern Tier IPA, was ready to go. But this would be easy to remedy.
My wife ordered a giant cocktail dubbed "Between the Sheets," and while she couldn't detect the taste of any alcohol, it was quite tasty, one of many such drinks listed. Another positive: the list of non-beer beverages is also lengthy.
The food -- nachos for her, fish and chips for me -- came quickly, in about 15 minutes, perfect for those with plenty of shopping left. There is not a lot of diversity on the food menu, but the prices are good, with our two meals, three drinks, and dessert adding up to about $50.
It was time for another beer, and another pick not on tap: Magic Hat No. 9. (All out of this one, so perhaps it will be available during your visit.) But again, with such a long list, it's easy to choose something else.
"Something else" is exactly what Taps offers. There is even a DJ on Fridays. Yep, a DJ at a mall eatery.
It's always hard to gauge who will and will not last in the local grub-and-suds world, but with a beer selection like this and a simple aesthetic, Taps is a solid choice. I think the name was a fine choice.
1 Galleria Drive, Cheektowaga 686-9200
Scene: A simple, comfortable bar-restaurant with a large bar, and tchotchke-free, but flat-screen filled, walls.
Happy hour: $3 domestic drafts and $4 imports from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays, along with Mojito and drink specials.
On tap: An extensive draft selection, including many offbeat picks; certainly the best draft menu at any restaurant-bar in the galleria vicinity.
Music: Lots of loud music during both of my visits -- the same setlist from a dentist's office in 1988: The Fixx, Gloria Estefan, "Man in the Mirror."
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.