Go to the well once too often and you're pushing your luck, right?
Not if it's The Well Bar & Grill in Orchard Park — a place to visit on any night, especially if you're looking for a calm, civilized "have a drink with friends" experience.
From the outside, The Well looks like a regular sports bar. Lighted beer signs in the windows and plenty of HDTVs flashing away. But step inside and you'll find out the opposite is true.
There's a relaxed vibe to the place. No loudmouthed, overbearing patrons. No blasting TVs. A refreshing change.
The space is expansive, and an unusual decorating juxtaposition is at work here. Newly remodeled, the decor is earth-tone colors with beautiful concrete floors. Buffalo sports memorabilia, a Blue Light Sabres clock and jerseys adorning the bar side. We spotted a Rob Ray jersey, a USA Hockey jersey and a Pat Tillman jersey hanging along with an American flag. On the opposite side in the dining area there are wainscoted walls and homey decorating touches. The Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame meets country cottage? Somehow it works.
Not too dim or bright, the lighting is perfect.
The crowd is mature, hence the 1980s background music — Journey, Cheap Trick, Blondie. The cacophonous din so often associated with a sports bar is absent thanks to the sound absorbing contraptions hanging from the ceilings. (Someone was thinking when that giant concrete floor was poured.) Customers can have a normal conversation, and many of them were on our two visits.
Our first stop was for Monday Night Football. The Well had the Bears/Cowboys game on as well as a baseball game. Props to a sports bar that doesn't have to be told what games are on.
Sitting on the somewhat vacant side of the dining room, we were happy the waitress didn't forget us. She kept us well supplied in food and drinks as we watched the Bears defense maul Tony Romo and the Cowboys. The game was also piped into the ladies' (and we assume men's) rooms. Yes, Jon Gruden kept us updated even in the bathroom stall!
Our second visit was on a Friday night, after a long work week. We parked ourselves at a bistro table in the bar area, contemplated a Purple Rain martini, but decided to go with a beer and hard cider instead.
Settling in, we laughed. The corner of the bar was occupied by a bunch of guys straight out of an L.L. Bean catalog. Each donned nice jeans, a brown belt and version of a plaid/flannel shirt (all tucked in).
Next to them, a family had stopped to say hello to a friend, while further down, a guy in a suit chatted with his barstool neighbor.
To our right, a family was just finishing dinner. The kids played Golden Tee Video Golf as the parents chatted. While bars aren't often associated with being family friendly, there were no raised eyebrows or inappropriate language to chase them out. Everyone was simply hanging out.
Full dinners are available, but we were in the mood for something bar-ish. We could have gone with a burger or wrap, but we ended up with wings, which were exceptional.
Meaty and big, we tried the Kinmartin and Viau's Cajun. The former, a delicious charbroiled chipotle barbecue sauce version and the latter, a unique Cajun sauce that seemed like a cross between Cajun and traditional wings. Tasty, and a good accompaniment as we watched the blueberries go up and down in my glass of Ellicottville Brewing Company's Blueberry Wheat.
And that's the beauty of The Well. It's a fun sports bar that's grown up and sensible at the same time. With a sign on the wall that reads "Live well. Eat well. Be well," you certainly can go to The Well as often as you like.
The Well Bar & Grill
Where: 4190 North Buffalo Road, Orchard Park (667-9355, www.thewellop.com)
Hours: Opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, noon on Saturday and Sunday.
The Scene: Friendly sports bar. Kick back and relax.
Dress: L.L. Bean, Lands' End, Eddie Bauer, et al.
Drinks: Beers in bottle and on tap including Ellicottville Brewing Company Blueberry Wheat, Great Lakes Oktoberfest, Sam Adams Octoberfest, Magic Hat #9, Pyramid IPA, Guinness, Labatt, Blue Moon. Full bar, wine and hard cider choices.
Specials: Happy hour from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Ladies Mondays, $5 martinis and buy one, get one drinks; Tuesday half-price select appetizers; Bills/Sabres games food and drink specials plus $13 domestic beer buckets.
Extras: Live music Wednesday nights. Darts and bubble hockey. Late-night kitchen menu. Ample parking in lot and on the street. Text "WellFB" to 72727 for discounts, special offers and upcoming events. Three-year anniversary party Nov. 10.