Having spent much of my life on the streets of the village of Orchard Park, I’ve seen restaurants and bars come and go (R.I.P., Jemiolo’s, Pudgy’s, Orchard Downs, etc.). So staying power is difficult to predict.
The Byrd House, a restaurant and bar housed in the former site of Mac’s Village Brewhouse on North Buffalo Road in the OP, is one of the latest, and by filling a certain niche, it may just last.
That niche is a bar-restaurant between higher-end spots like David’s Grille and Mangia (a less casual choice than David’s, but still), and grungier bars I’ll leave unmentioned.
The aesthetic is simple – nice wood bar, room for live music, some booths and tables off of the bar, a surprisingly varied menu, a solid beer and wine list, and a bowling alley right next door.
It was a cold winter evening when my drinking and dining companion – my brother-in-law, Aaron – and I hit the House. There was a small crowd, and some rather incongruous ’90s dance music playing. (It was Sirius XM’s ’90s station, so we’re talking Dee-Lite, RuPaul and the Backstreet Boys.)
Aaron is a tough critic. He has had a drink in bars around the world, from Vegas to Japan to the U.K., and he knows what he likes. His first thought, upon entering, was a bit harsh: “Not feelin’ it,” he said.
But I knew what would swing this craft beer aficionado: the draft beer list.
Helpfully posted on a chalkboard behind us, the on-tap selections were a pleasing mix of the expected and the slightly more offbeat. Instantly, it was clear that no other bar/restaurant in the village of Orchard Park is likely to compete with this rundown.
The 20 beers were … take a deep breath: Labatt Blue Light, Sam Adams, Magic Hat #9, Long Trail Double Bag, Harpoon Winter Warmer, Guinness, Great Lakes Burning River, Labatt Blue, Caged Alpha Monkey, Sam Adams Winter Lager, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, CBC X-mas Ale, Flying Bison’s Rusty Chain, Southern Tier IPA, Blue Moon, McKenzie’s Seasonal Hard Cider, Brooklyn Brown, Ithaca Apricot Wheat, Pyramid Hefeweizen and Ellicottville Brewing Company’s Blueberry Wheat.
Was it really necessary for me to list all of those? Perhaps not, but I think it’s important to see that there is a clear range and a real attempt at pleasing both the casual beer drinker and the craft connoisseur.
Like me, Aaron found it a solid list, although he was annoyed that the server did not have much to tell him about Rusty Chain. As a longtime Flying Bison fan, I described it as best I could – no harm, no foul.
The beer, the music, the five TVs at the bar – it’s a nice, pleasant scene. Again, part of what makes the Byrd House noteworthy is the location. It is not quite like any other hangout in the vicinity, and that’s relevant. Couple that with live music (there is even an open mic night on Wednesdays), and it seems like a smart gameplan.
We dined, as well, and the food was quite good; Aaron especially enjoyed the sausage chowder. (The final bill did seem a bit high, though.)
The Byrd House, then, provides Orchard Park with a simple, comfortable alternative, even with a soundtrack of RuPaul and the Backstreet Boys.
The Byrd House
Where: 4246 N. Buffalo Road, Orchard Park (662-3909)
Scene: A comfortable alternative to some of Orchard Park’s higher-end bars and restaurants.
Happy hour: 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with $1 off beer and mixed drinks.
On tap: A varied list of 20 beers.
Music: Often the site of live music; our visit was soundtracked by ’90s hits.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.