By The Usual Gang of Idiots

No one felt like cooking last week Wednesday, so I grabbed the Commander and his lovely wife and headed over the hill to Ellicottville. Ulterior motive: to try one more futile attempt to get him to pick up a check — yes, I failed.

Of course, I, Mr. Crank Pants, was accompanied by my court-ordered chaperone, Mrs. Cranky Pants. Our destination: The Barn restaurant and bar on Monroe Street. Upon entry, we were greeted by one of the best waiters/bartenders I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Bill had both duties that night and was doing an excellent job. We were joined by two more friends, so we decided to start with some appetizers and beers all around.

Even though they didn’t have any “true” microbrews available, the selection was solid and should be enough to satisfy most anyone. I choose a Sam Adams Summer Ale, which is made by craft beer brewer Sam Adams. The Summer Ale is a crisp, light ale — just right for a hot summer day. I usually don’t like wheat beers because of their lack of body, but this ale can hold its own. It was a good pair with the excellent appetizers.

I think we ordered almost one of everything — most of them fried, because anything fried goes well with beer. I mostly noshed on the onion rings and, of course, stole some of the Commander’s food when I thought he wasn’t looking. I’m not sure what he ordered, but it was good!

The next order of business was a burger. The Barn has an option that lets you build your own burger with a long list of garnish options. I topped mine with jalapeño relish, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomato.

Even though it promised an evening of heartburn, it was excellent and worth it! It was my favorite burger of the summer, so far. I paired it with a Yuengling, my fall back beer. You can never go wrong with one of these. It’s a well-balanced beer between the sweet malt and the bitter hops — the perfect beer to go with a spicy burger.

Commander here. Even before I took up skiing again with Cranky in the ‘90s, The Barn was the restaurant I found myself at the most, possibly because it was easy to find — “look for the barn” — and because it is a barn, it is full of rustic quaintness and charm, with interesting decorations everywhere you look. But along with its quaintness, there is a quality about it that makes you want to button that top button and sit up a little straighter … maybe it’s the menu. No lunch style burgers or sandwiches are on the dinner menu, but there are tasty appetizers and interesting main course dinners.

I started out with The Barn’s signature appetizer, a generous portion of Hungarian Stuffed Peppers, filled with a smoky Andouille sausage and cheese blend that was not too spicy hot but provided enough of a hit to let you know you are eating a hot pepper. So far, I think the appetizer selection is the best in Ellicottville. An order of onion rings was also on the table, and when it came out, the smell made everyone instantly salivate. They were the most perfect looking onion rings I have ever seen.

Because owner Roger Spell knew we were coming in, he made sure we could order a burger at dinnertime. He was trying out a new Bacon Wrapped Burger with barbeque sauce and pepper jack cheese served on a pretzel roll. It was fabulous and, for me, needed nothing else. They have not yet added this choice to the menu, but when they do, I hope they don’t only offer it on the lunch menu as it is worthy of a dinner choice.

As Cranky Pants pointed out, the craft beer selection was minimal, but it was definitely not a negative, as it gave us all an opportunity to fall back on the beers we grew up with. Molson Canadian and Genesee were the beers of my past, and lately, I hear that Genesee has become a hot beer in New York City. So, I sipped a few domestic ice cold drafts and enjoyed my company and dinner at The Barn.

After appetizers, drinks and huge burgers, everyone’s bellies were full to the brim with no room left for dessert. And that was just fine.