Smithwick?s and Guinness pour freely from taps inside O'Brien's Tavern. If the love of Ireland isn?t evident enough, then just look around the room: Vintage beer signs clutter the walls and Ireland?s flag proudly hangs next to a flat-screen TV, which plays sporting events with Irish subtitles. Beer, wine, and cocktails complement a selection of sandwiches such as patty melts, Reubens, and turkey BLTs, as well as the grilled cheese and soup of the day. And when the sun sets, a nook in the tavern becomes a stage, where bands play original songs and a DJ spins tunes as guests sway across the floor.
Family-owned and operated for more than 40 years, Mitchell's Tavern draws diners with beer, spirits, and a lengthy menu of freshly cooked pub fare. Its historic brick building, which is more than 70 years old, housed both a deli and the local fire department before transforming into the neighborhood tavern it is today. An outdoor patio shades rows of tabletops with umbrellas; inside, sports memorabilia and photographs crowd the walls as complimentary popcorn erupts from kettles and hearty roast beef sandwiches, hamburgers, and fried fish mingle with mugs of draft beer and mixed drinks. Happy hours and drink specials give wallets a break throughout the week—Mondays, for instance, bring half-priced bottles of Bud, and ladies night every Saturday treats ladies and gorillas in convincing cashmere gowns to $2 drinks and $4 cosmopolitans.: m]]
Williamsville, NY. The early 20th century. A man guides his family’s horse-drawn carriage through the flurries of snow sweeping across their circular driveway before coming to a halt in front of a striking two-story home. The ride was long and chilly, but inside, homey warmth awaits. Today, teleportation discs may have replaced the horse and buggy, but travelers still traverse the same driveway in search of a warm welcome. Now the home of Parings Wine Bar, the turn-of-the-century house reflects the goal that owner Shelia Paolini shared with the Amherst Bee’s Jessica Finch: “We want it to feel like you are coming into a living room, that you are at home, not at a bar.”
As soon as guests push open the bright-red front door, they enter a space that combines the comfort of a lived-in family room with the gourmet flavors found at traditional wine bars. Lit by flat-screen TVs and a cozy fireplace, guests peruse Chef Scott Martin’s ever-changing menu, which often features mediterranean nachos, lobster mac 'n' cheese, and horseradish beef tenderloin. Resident sommelier Alphonso DiMono’s wine list, which culls vintages from global wineries from Australia to France to California, perfectly complements the chef's creations. The bar’s mixologists also shake up more than 20 martinis infused with treats such has espresso vodka, Godiva white-chocolate liqueur, and pumpkin puree. As they sip and eat, guests can also join in special event nights that include art shows, live music, and happy hours that feature 20 types of wine for just $20 per bottle.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
From its charming Bryant Street storefront, Trattoria Aroma serves up authentic boot-country fare using local and organic products whenever possible. Launch a decadent dining experience with an order of peppercorn-seared pork belly, served with a cracked egg, sweet-pea pesto, and shaved parmesan ($9), or opt for the crispy fried artichoke hearts over parsley pesto ($7). Gourmet pizzas ($12+) and house-made pastas, such as the lobster ravioli with fried leeks and brandy cream ($21), offer sophisticated twists on familiar flavors, while Trattoria Aroma's meaty fare perks up frownful Florentines. Poultry loyalists exchange regal high-fives over juicy bites of chicken saltimbocca, a fragrant sage- and prosciutto-enhanced dish with asparagus, roasted potatoes, and a white-wine-lemon sauce ($22). Vela osso bucco Milanese, with saffron-parmesan risotto and gremolata ($29), offers a marrowful meal for opulent meat-lovers and makes an ideal accompaniment for any of the fermented favorites off of Trattoria's award-winning wine list.
Immersed in pictures of hockey stars, Center Ice Sports Bar & Grill unfurls a menu of savory American fare and a bevy of beverages. Treat your tablemates to an order of potato skins to see synchronized tongues climb aboard four starch-laden boats carrying gooey cheddar cheese and bacon bits ($7.50). Or, troll your own fork-motor through the grilled salmon entree, served with veggies, a choice of potato, and soup or salad ($14.95). Diners may sit at the bar, relax in one of the booths, or practice their head stands on the 12-ounce Certified Angus cushion of the Center Ice burger, stacked high with lettuce, tomato, and onion, and drizzled with thousand-island dressing ($7.95). The veggie wrap is a green thumb's delight, with a grilled tortilla enshrouding steamed broccoli, tomatoes, cherry peppers, and cheddar cheese ($7.50).