Sometimes you want a dive bar, a place where a select few gather for conversation, where a limited variety of alcohol is offered so the prices are reasonable and where the loudest sound is the crack of a cue ball.
Other times, you want the neighborhood tavern, a rowdier joint where the jukebox or television blares, where the drinks are fancier but pricier and where the bodies packing in as the night progresses make you feel like you’re crammed into a sardine can.
Somewhere in between is the Green Room at 2179 Niagara St. This bar aims to bring back a neighborhood tavern and grill to the Riverside-Black Rock area by offering less expensive drinks and an extensive bar menu with food service until closing.
Looking at the large building from the outside, one would expect the Green Room to be packed with more than 50 people, but upon entering on a recent Friday night, six patrons and the bartender turned to see who allowed the heavy door to slam shut. The Internet jukebox was silent while tru TV’s “World’s Dumbest Inventions” was featured on the large screen above the bar and laughter filled the room. If hockey and football aren’t available, a good laugh is always welcome.
While there isn’t much green to the place, the floor plan is spacious, with the bar at one end of the large room and four tables, three booths and pool and foosball tables filling out the rest. A dark atmosphere is interrupted by only a few lamps over the bar, lighting for the pool table area and several strands of Christmas lights. Several beer signs, a large “River Rock Community Coalition” banner and dart boards line the walls, and the area above the ATM is dedicated to ribbons and awards earned from barbecue competitions. Large cutouts of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis designate which restroom is for whom.
Happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. features canned beers ($2) including Molson, Labatt Blue, Blue Light, Coors Light, Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Corona. Coors Light also is on tap ($2 pints and $6 pitchers), and $2 well drinks and shots round out happy hour. The other taps include Rolling Rock and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
This particular Friday night remained quiet, but the bartender guaranteed that Sabres games and parties bring in the crowds. He added that draft beer only is served for parties, leaving cans as the only beer option most nights. Well and other mixed drinks are available, and $5 bought a pretty stiff Long Island Iced Tea.
After several hours of laughing at dumb inventions, playing darts and chatting, it was time to call it a night.
We made a return trip the following Saturday for the Sabres game, and the experience was quite the opposite. Music filled the air, jean-clad revelers in their 20s to their 70s gathered for a birthday party and the taps were flowing. A box of Almaden white wine was added to the bar ($3 a glass). Even though about 40 people packed the place, there still was room to see the game, dance and get to the bar for a refill without bumping into anybody.
The Green Room’s mix of ample space, inexpensive drinks and large food selection makes it a great place to catch a game, host a party or meet friends.
The Green Room
Where: 2179 Niagara St. (249-5888, thegreenroombuffalo.webs.com)
Hours: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Other notes: Full menu until closing. Also offers takeout, banquets and drop-off catering. ATM available, credit cards accepted. Patio open during warmer months. Year-round dart leagues.