WJ Morrissey Irish Pub in the Cobblestone District, which ably handles crowds of hungry and thirsty Sabres fans and people attending events at First Niagara Center, has a secret that more people should learn.

Wednesday is salad day and Thursday is burger day at Morrissey's, which means that on those days, a salad or a burger is sold for just $5. It's rare enough to see anything sold for $5 these days -- in many places, a bowl of soup approaches $5 -- but to see big, juicy burgers with fries for that price is a pleasant surprise.

The place was cool inside, with familiar Irish tunes playing in the background, on a recent Thursday when John and I met Maureen there for lunch. We had carefully considered the two types of choices -- salad on Wednesday or burgers on Thursday -- for a good 10 seconds before deciding that we were real burger fans and it had to be Thursday.

The special $5 burger menu has six or seven selections on it with interesting names, starting with the classic cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato.

The burger of the day was a turkey burger, which also looked appealing.

We were curious about whether these burgers would be smaller than the cheeseburger featured on the regular menu and sold for $7.50. Our server said that the burgers were no different, but more types than usual were offered. When they arrived we could see that these were no scaled-down burgers -- the meat patties were about twice the thickness of the frozen compressed discs you see in some places.

We were all struck at first by the quality of the rolls, which were soft, fresh and grilled inside to lovely toastiness. The burgers were juicy, though there was only the slightest tinge of pink in the center of the one that was ordered to be cooked medium. It was not dry at all, though.

We tried the Dublin burger, which is topped with bacon, cheese, a slathering of barbecue sauce and an onion ring. It was a bit messy, but other than being a challenge if you were trying to keep your work clothes unspotted, it was a delicious combination. The barbecue sauce was flavorful, and the onion ring, along with a thick layer of fresh lettuce, added crunch.

The Local burger was made with lettuce, cheese, red onion and bacon. Before closing the top of the roll on the burger, we took a good look at the bacon, which was very thick and nicely crisped, more meat than fat and very flavorful. Another hit!

The turkey burger also got high marks. Served on the same roll as the ground beef burgers, it was not as thick, but it was tender and delicious, too. It was covered with mozzarella, as requested, which was melted to the perfect consistency before being served.

All three of us remarked that our burgers arrived very close to sizzling, obviously just taken off the grill.

The burgers also came with a side of pub fries, coleslaw, pasta salad or potato chips. All three of us chose the fries, which were also very hot. They were medium-thick and perfectly fried, crispy on the outside and steaming inside.

If you're not a burger lover or you hit Morrissey's on a different day, there are several other intriguing selections on the menu, including a mouth-watering Farmhouse salad (diced chicken, sliced apple, walnuts, raisins, bacon bits and crumbled goat cheese over mixed greens, served with cider vinaigrette dressing and brown bread) for $8.50. But salad or burger lovers who appreciate a great price on a nicely made lunch in comfortable surroundings should mark their calendars for these two specials.




3 pennies (out of four)

"Great specials."

WHERE: 30 Mississippi St., 852-0930

HOURS: Lunch served from 11:30 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; open extra hours and on Sundays only for major events at Canalside or First Niagara Center.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Five steps; wheelchair access via lift on south side of patio.