A shillelagh, or Blackthorn stick, is an Irish club typically made from the Blackthorn tree. With a Blackthorn in hand a gentleman could effectively stand his ground without having to resort to swords or pistols to settle a disagreement.
The Blackthorn has been standing its ground on Seneca Street for over 40 years. While the neighborhood seems to be ever changing; there’s a consistency and dependability to this corner Pub that continues to endure the test of time.
The ambiance of The Blackthorn is what you’d expect from an Irish inspired venue. Dark woods, muted Gaelic influenced colors, and wooden floors and ceilings. The bar is no exception; offering a variety of beverages to whet your whistle from Guinness to Jameson and everything in-between.
The staff is quick to seat you in either dining level or let you step up to the bar where you can also order off the menu. There’s good space at the rear of the restaurant where they can host larger groups and give you a bit of privacy if you need it. For parties and special events – or just a fun Saturday night – the Blackthorn has an extensive, enclosed side patio that includes an upper deck.
The menu is eclectic. It offers typical bar items (fried foods) in case the whiskey shots are catching up to you; but has a diversity that would suit every customer. Not usually found on an Irish menu are: Pulled Pork Quesadillas, Nachos Deluxe and Souvlaki. They also offer seafood items such as Maryland Crab Cakes and seared diver Scallops. A Friday fish fry is offered, as well as a host of signature items like their house-made Saratoga Chips or a corned beef and roast turkey sandwich called “The Pub”.
I started with a cup of the Irish Beer Cheddar Soup ($3.99) which looked a little bland and understated when it arrived. The presentation gave me little expectation that there was anything worthwhile beneath its cheesy surface. When I tasted it I was, in fact, surprised with the flavor but even more so with the texture; one I had not encountered before. There were ‘chunks’ of softened cheddar within the soup. At first it took me a beat to get used to the idea and the texture. But I decided that I really liked the Blackthorn approach to this classic soup. It clearly was ‘not’ cheese-whiz in a blender. It had character.
I pressed further into the menu and went straight for a classic: Corned Beef on Rye ($9.99) which came with house-made Jalapeño-Cheddar Tater Tots. I like my corned beef with mustard. The look, the smell, the flavors were great. My only disappointment on this sandwich was that – while the menu said “mouth-watering” – mine was a little dry. I enjoyed the sandwich despite that and will likely order it again when I return, but not until I try a few other things on the menu. I want to taste the Maryland Crab Cakes and the Irish Filet Mignon too but not before I try the Bourbon Street Pasta which (quoting from the Blackthorn menu) is prepared with “blackened chicken, shrimp, & scallops, sautéed bell peppers & onions tossed with fettuccine in orange bourbon butter sauce”. Damn – I can taste that already.
They also offer a variety of desserts that you can enjoy with a cup of coffee (with or without Baileys or Jameson).
If you’re driving down Seneca Street, stop in at the Blackthorn; proudly, still standing her ground.
Menu: Good variety to suit everyone at your table, creative Irish “food-play”, affordable.
Service: Bar – excellent; Table service – variable; could improve on follow-up.
Ambiance: It speaks “Irish-themed, local Pub” – welcoming, inviting and friendly.
If the weather’s nice, be sure to sit on the extensive patio, where there is a bar, and a side lot with plenty of games, including hometown favorite, corn hole. The patio is great if you have kids, and it’s also perfect for watching Bills’ games in the fall.
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