It takes a lot of chutzpah to open a bar in Buffalo and call it “The Aud.” There is, after all, no “Fenway Park” pub in Boston (yet) or “Maple Leaf Gardens” in Toronto. (If that existed, drinkers would order their beer with great hope, and then watch as it was spilled, repeatedly, for 40-plus years.)
Some things, I guess, are sacred. But apparently Memorial Auditorium was not one of those.
In any event, I never made it to 6036 Transit Road in Depew when it was the Aud. But like the iconic structure for which it was named, the Aud is no more. The Bradford Ale House can now be found at 6036, and even those who enjoyed the building’s previous occupant should be satisfied.
It is an attempt at a family-friendly beer lovers’ restaurant and bar, and while these are becoming increasingly common, it is a step in the right direction. It is also quite unlike almost any other place to drink and dine in the Depew/Lancaster/Cheektowaga area.
That is what makes the Bradford Ale House stand out. Is it more unusual than other similarly themed joints in Western New York? Not exactly. But, as my real estate agent would put it, it has something very, very important: location, location, location.
My wife and I recently visited for drinks and grub and found it an enjoyable, very friendly experience – well, friendly to most; a sign stating “SORRY NO COLORS ALLOWED IN OR UPON PREMISES,” with a motorcycle crossed out, is near the doorway.
It was a sunny Sunday, therefore a bit of an off-night, and not too crowded. One of our first sights was a sizable front patio. Some folks were clearly enjoying their shandies in the shade, but let’s be frank: It is not a choice view, unless watching an endless stream of cars zip down Transit or keeping tabs on who comes and goes at the video game store or pool hall across the street thrill you. No matter; chances are, you are not there for the scenery.
We chose to sit inside, and after being greeted by a very friendly, helpful server, took a look around. It is a simple but relatively classy design aesthetic, and a unique one, with archival photos (Transit and Walden in 1900, news of a train wreck in 1907) highlighting the surroundings.
There are ample TVs, a DJ booth near the bar and other bits of bric-a-brac, including a large Beach Boys ticket blown up from a ’70s Niagara Falls Convention Center show. (I was pondering who would have been in this incarnation, and made a mental note to do some research later.)
It is always nice to receive a readable beer list – we were seated near the bar, but with my aging eyes, it was still helpful – and the Bradford list is pretty strong: Ellicottville Brewing Co. Blueberry, Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, Blue Moon, Magic Hat No. 9, Sam Adams Summer Ale, Victory HopDevil, Yuengling, Dogfish Head IPA, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Sierra Nevada, Southern Tier IPA, Great Lakes Brewing Co. Eliot Ness and Guinness. Oh, and Blue Light.
Meanwhile, the bottled beer list included Ithaca Flower Power IPA, Flying Bison Rusty Chain, Shock Top and Dos Equis Amber.
The food is pure pub all the way, with no real surprises, but the wings were good, and the nachos seemingly sizable enough for a Little League team – infield and outfield.
Out of curiosity, I asked our sever if there were any links to the Aud. She explained there was not; these are different owners, and one used to own a place on Chippewa called (if the Internet is not lying to me) the Bradford Grill. Hence, the name.
The Bradford’s slogan, found on the menus and a dining area wall, is “An Ale House of the people, by the people, for the people.” That’s a very “Les Miz” message, and a wise one. Perhaps if Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert had easy access to Southern Tier IPAs, that whole mess could have been avoided.