Monday Night Football is a wonderfully incisive gauge of a bar's fun quotient, as well as its annoyance quotient, its appetizer quotient and pretty much any other booze-y quotient you can think of.
On paper, then, one might have wandered into Magruders for the recent destruction of the Houston Texans by the mighty, hated New England Patriots and concluded that Magruders is nothing special. It was, after all, only moderately filled, and with men only. (The only female in the room was behind the bar.)
But "nothing special" is precisely why Magruders is a fine pub. As one of the friends who accompanied put it, "This is any other bar in the outlying suburbs."
But he did not intend that to be a criticism. It's an indicator that the bar and restaurant at 4995 Broadway in Depew is, like so many other establishments, uniquely Western New York.
In other words, we're talking Sabres and Bills swag on the wall (the Bills poster features the absurdly comical tagline, "Year of the Bills Fan"), flat-screens here and there tuned to ESPN, Christmas lights, a New York Lotto message board, Quick Draw cards, and a full table of older gents who have likely been drinking together for years.
In keeping with the "When in Buffalo" vibe, we ordered a pitcher of Labatt Blue (8 bucks), a beer I had sworn off after realizing I'd probably had more of it during tailgating and college carousing than was advisable.
In Magruders, for the three of us, it tasted just right.
Signs on the wall advertised a monthly "comedy night," and called attention to a Magruders favorite called "the Homewrecker," a concoction the menu describes, menacingly, as "two 8 oz. burgers topped with a breaded chicken finger tossed in spaghetti sauce, sliced ham, Swiss cheese and a mozzarella stick."
My arteries thanked me for not ordering, although I'd love to see someone down that monster. Perhaps the Homewrecker scared us, since no one in our party was hungry, but I did notice a $5 appetizer all day Sunday and 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
All-day drink specials are also offered, including $2 Miller Lite pints on Mondays, $3.50 Sam Adams Seasonal on Tuesday and Friday, $3 imports and craft beer pints on Wednesday, and $2 Coors Light on Thursday. It's nice to see craft beer in the mix.
Monday Night Football proved shockingly dull, but like most folks at the bar, we didn't mind, since it made for better conversation. I noticed a few solo chaps sitting at the bar, chatting; they probably did not know each other, but Magruders seems a place where striking up a conversation is not frowned upon.
(Incidentally, I noticed a poster during my visit advertising a special event happening tonight: A clever-sounding "Ugly Christmas Sweater Party" featuring music by Road to Recovery and deals on Sam Adams, Coors Light and the intriguingly titled "Sweet Revenge" shots. You can try that one, and tell me how it is.)
Midway through our visit, a fiftysomething in a tie loudly made his exit, and gave the barkeep a wave as the late Andy Williams crooned "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." I'd bet he's a regular, and a friendly one, too. Without realizing it, he's the mascot of Magruders, and that's something to feel good about it.
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Where: 4995 Broadway, Depew (685-4400, www.magruders.org).
Scene: Spacious and casual, seeming to cater to an older crowd.
Happy hour: Magruders offers several all-day specials along ?with other deals.
On tap: A nice mix of the usuals (Labatt Blue, Coors Light, ?Guinness, etc.) and a few more offbeat choices (including a nice selection from Ellicottville Brewing Company).
Music: It was all ESPN and Christmas music when I visited, but an Internet jukebox is housed ?in the bar.Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; ?and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.