PITTSFIELD -- Patrick's Pub is probably not a mysterious locale for many regular readers of this column. A centerpiece of downtown Pittsfield's back-to-basics pub scene, Patrick's is a well-established fixture on Bank Row facing Park Square.
But that doesn't mean the people running the place have gotten complacent. As the owners prepare to open a new venture called J. Allen's Clubhouse Grille further up North Street, they're offering an extra push to be sure the longtime Patrick's patrons don't forget about the old place.
One tends to accumulate visits to Patrick's over the years, whether for a casual after-work get-together, a Friday night pint of Guinness at the bar, or an indulgent taste of heavy pub fare before a show at the Colonial around the corner.
But with Berkshires After Dark in mind, we stopped by on a Monday. December Monday evenings in the Berkshires are not known for hustle and bustle, but at around 8:30 p.m. there were no open seats at the bar, and at least a couple dozen tables were filled with smiling, chatting diners.
On the weekends, the bar area, centrally located amid several mildly set-apart wings of dining rooms, can be busy enough to be oppressive. On this night, there were just enough people throughout the place to impart a busy and decidedly jovial vibe, while still leaving room for cross-table conversation.
My quick demographic survey indicated that a plurality of guests seemed to be somewhere in their 40s, but some younger patrons -- and a few older ones -- filled out the populace. (A few were even seen later that night at Mission Bar and Tapas, following up their mainstream pub experience with some live jazz with a vaguely hipsterish twist.)
Monday Night Football was in progress, but the long-lingering crowded seemed more interested in the atmosphere and libations than the game.
The biggest gridiron impact may have been the raffle tickets placed on tables.
Upon every scoring play in the game, an employee drew a ticket and called out a number, seeking somewhere to send over a complimentary nachos or hot wings order. (We wondered if the nachos would be snatched away again if a touchdown were overruled by tape review.)
Both food items are on special during Monday night games, part of a new series of nightly specials that also include a list of entrees available for $9.99 on Sunday nights, and a $4.99 price for sandwiches and wraps on Wednesday nights.
But the food isn't really the point. This is the kind of place that lists an open-faced turkey sandwich, topped with gravy, under "lighter fare." (True story.)
The menu is stocked with all the expected pub choices, though there are one or two idiosyncrasies, like a Chinese beef and broccoli soup that served as the daily soup that day. The Nachos Supreme met all expectations, and a $5 Caesar salad came in a generous, thoroughly dressed portion with dinner roll.
You feel like you're pretty much obligated to order a beer as you walk in the door, but it's not a place for the hops aficionado. The selection is amply sized, but actually kind of pedestrian. In addition to 12 permanent draft selections, there were three rotating/seasonal selections available, but the tasty BBC Cabin Fever is about as funky as it gets. Otherwise, the expected drafts of Sam Adams (regular plus seasonal option), Blue Moon and Smithwick's complemented the domestic beers available by the bottle.
Yet, the beer list makes room for the budget-minded patron with a taste for Bud Light to sit alongside friends who may not require an obscure microbrew, but still want a somewhat more specialized option.
Going against type, an extensive list of house cocktails (including nine based on flavored vodkas) implies that mixology is more of a focus. These are joined by seasonal cocktail selections, such as the pumpkin martini, Ghostbuster (a gin and liqueur concoction) and the caramel apple pie, whose ingredients include vodka and apple juice, served in a glass rimmed with graham cracker. (That's a new one for me.)
The list of wallet-friendly wines is also more extensive than might be expected, with many priced at $6 a glass.
Patrick's has made its name by offering lots of food and drink choices to lots of people at a time, without venturing far from the heart of the expected.
The ample salads provide at least some refuge for the health-conscious, but the chances are you're not there for dinner if you're the type who is scared off by the combination of bread and cheese.
It's nice to know they're still making an effort to offer attractive food specials to keep their regulars engaged and happy. That's how fixtures remain relevant.