Wings. Burgers. Fries.

There was a time when everyone knew what "pub food" meant, with these three being prime examples of the genre. Informal meals, meant to be served late in an ultra-casual setting, often with a mug or a glass or a bottle at the side.

It is not particularly subtle food, and not particularly healthy, at least not much of the time. Savory rather than sweet; designed for late-night munchies.

And it tends to be highly seasoned – all the better to make you thirsty, but also sometimes filling enough for an entire meal.

Pub food – at least the three examples I mentioned – is readily available, and it always has been. But the repertoire has been expanding, right along with our growing knowledge and curiosity about food and flavors. So why not try something new?

Read the menu carefully. Often you can find pub food items listed under "small plates" on the menu, or under appetizers.

Start here:

In Lagerhaus 95, a cavernous place in the Cobblestone District at 95 Perry St., just reading the appetizer menu will start those salivary glands working. There's an Olive and (house-made) Hummus Platter; there's Basil Truffle French Fries served in a traditional metal cone and loaded with the herb and coarse salt. Schnitzel Fingers also come in that cone, along with two sauces – with German Potato Salad on the side.

In the gorgeous and relatively ?informal Mike A's lounge across the hall from Mike A's restaurant in the gorgeous Hotel @ the Lafayette, try cheddar-bacon-flavored house-made chips. Or a burger that includes foie gras (and a $19 price tag). Or Bacon Rillettes, a pate made from pork belly.

Allen Street Hardware, 245 Allen St., offers Black Bean and Rice Stuffed Poblano Pepper with hot chile sauce. (It might actually be good for you – same for the Roasted Vegetables and Goat Cheese Platter.

And for a slightly different look at the world, try the 223 Allen Street Bar and Grill (still known to many as the Old Pink Flamingo). It's grungy (no other adjective works), but the Steak Sandwich has been famous for years. Thick slabs of meat, peppers, onions, cheese! Obviously enough for your dinner – for the next five days.

Not quite that hungry? Try the ?Century Grill, 320 Pearl St. Saturday night ?is bacon night. A basket full. Now there's ?an idea.

Send your questions and comments about dining out to Janice Okun at She will respond in this column, which appears every Wednesday in the Taste section of The Buffalo News.