WHY WE WENT:
The Super Bowl looms. Call it a scouting mission. This house offers at least a dozen screens and, after all, brings the billing, It's a fun place.
STYLE OF FOOD: Pizza and pub food as well as a host of traditional dinners, including multiple house favorites, such as shepherd's pie and Chili Con Kelsey's.
DRESS & D√?COR: Dress is casual; d√©cor is classic pub, though the expanded dining room lends a more traditional restaurant feel.
SERVICE: Quick and pleasant. Though the place was busy, we were seated quickly and well-attended.
MUST-TRY DISHES: Chicken wing pizza, one of several pizza options available (among red, white, cheesesteak and even Cajun), sported an exquisitely light yet crispy crust and a snappy sauce. We went with sidecars of traditional mild and Ryan's Southwest Ranch, which fans of creamier wing sauces will lap up. The chicken itself was shaved as opposed to chunked, which we appreciated.
Shepherd's pie, an Irish favorite, was similarly lighter than expected yet densely satisfying. The crusty specialty flaked easily under a fork and was loaded with nicely browned meat and tender vegetables.
Specials change weekly. Recent eye-catchers were The Mac & Cheeseburger, a hybrid of sirloin and the classic comfort food as a topping also boasting chopped bacon. (Isn't everything better with bacon?) This one's served on toasted Italian bread.
Another special, a queso pasta bake with peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and tequila lime chicken, sounded like a spicy winter winner, as did a Maple Salmon Crisp, with caramelized almonds, red onion and, mmmm, more bacon.
OTHER FARE: The dinner menu is fairly extensive for a pub and offers plenty of classics, including several poultry and seafood options. A chicken scampi dish ($15.95) scored rave reviews for the quality of the chicken itself, which can be a deal-breaker in other places, but the scampi sauce could have used an extra injection of flavor. On the lighter side, a $9.95 Honey Mustard Crunch salad hit all the right notes.
Beer is a popular choice here, of course. We had looked forward to a local selection from Breaker Brewing Company, but, alas, on the evening, the only option was a darker, heavier entry, so we bypassed. Unfortunately, two of us agreed the Miller Light we chose instead was just a bit off. (Could have been trouble with the taps.) The better news, however, is that craft beer is starting to make inroads here, and Kelsey's website ( www.kelseys-restaurant.com) touts Racer 5, Smithwick's and more.
HOURS: 4-10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 3-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; noon-9 p.m. Sundays.
PRICES: $10 to $15 is a popular price point.
THE LOCATION: 1 North Main St., Ashley
OVERALL IMPRESSION: A happy, happening neighborhood spot that attracts far more than the neighbors. On its way to becoming a local institution, if it's not already.