Right before we left for England, Alli and I drove to the village of Williamsville and tried out The Irishman for the first time. I had always assumed it was a simple pub food style restaurant with an ‘Irish’ spin and that it probably wasn’t that exciting; we accepted the fact that we’d probably never visit. Then we found a $25 gift certificate that was a Christmas gift and well, why would we waste it?
I’d be lying if I said that Alli and I were expecting a fantastic meal. We try to always keep an open mind when we visit a restaurant for the first time, but the village of Williamsville has never had the reputation of having many restaurants that are a true culinary destination. So we half expected an ‘OK’ meal in a pretty setting.
We were right about the setting, the newly renovated bar/restaurant looks very nice. It’s not exactly an authentic ‘Irish’ pub (for one it’s way too clean and the staff has matching uniforms) but they do attempt to have that ‘pub feel’. Their design includes a lot of stained wood and they have a very large square bar that provides plenty of seating/standing room for people who just want a beer. Their beer list is slightly above average, their import selection isn’t much different then you’d find in any other bar/restaurant. However, their liquor selection is impressive if you’re a fan of Scotch or Irish Whiskey.
Their menu has your standard Buffalo casual dining fare and wasn’t that impressive at first glance. They have a selection of wraps, salads, appetizers and chicken/beef/seafood entrees. We ordered a couple appetizers and a couple entrees that weren’t too crazy but had a unique spin on them.
Alli ordered a bowl of French Onion Soup because she had a craving and was pleasantly surprised, the broth was sweet, full of onions and covered with a fair amount of melted cheese. Nothing ground breaking, but a very solid soup that tasted homemade and not from a can, which is rare. We also ordered a plate of Twice Baked Potato Boats that were crispy and covered in swiss cheese and Irish bacon. Again, nothing too exciting but a really solid version of potato skins. They were served with a noticeably sweet sour cream that Alli loved.
For our entrees, Alli ordered their Guinness BBQ Chicken Wings while I ordered their Shepherd Pie. We really liked the wings. Normally I’m a BBQ purist and normally avoid weird sauces, but their BBQ sauce had a very nice sweet & sour kick. They were finished on the grill and quite satisfying. The Shepherd Pie was easily the most “Irish” menu item that we ordered and it was served in a massive dish. The cast iron pan was filled with a hearty mound of potatoes, vegetables and lamb. The cheese that covered the dish was a little burnt and was actually a little difficult to cut through and chew. There was definitely some lamb flavor throughout the entree but I could have used more meat. It was our least favorite dish of the night.
Even though we went into the meal with low expectations and weren’t expecting anything that special from their menu, we were fairly happy with most of our meal. Sure we didn’t order anything too exciting, but they managed to execute some classic Buffalo pub food at the right level. It was a bit sad and slightly ironic that the most ‘Irish’ dish was the least impressive. That said, the bar is really large and if I was looking for a really good Happy Hour spot with a group of friends in the Northtowns, this would be a great location. They’ve recently expanded their patio considerably but have also lost a couple parking spots with the construction, so keep that in mind. I’m not sure it’s worth going out of your way to make a visit, but if you find yourself in the Williamsville area, it’s not a bad choice if you’re in the mood for pub-style food.