The Pub is an Amherst institution, a favorite among UMass alumni, and a place that has been known locally for its burgers and relaxed charm practically since its 1968 opening. The menu is absurdly extensive and eclectic, although predictable within each divergent category. The service is friendly; and the drinks flow freely.
The food has its high points and low points. The highest of the high, by consensus, is the burger. Reasonably priced, thick, round, tender, juicy, well-dressed, and rare when requested rare, it's The Pub's best work. The bacon cheeseburger, in particular, is one of the best in the area. The rest of the menu is a roller-coaster ride, both in price and quality. Perhaps because of The Pub's local-institution status, we can forgive, at least somewhat, the place's ill-inspired attempt to systematically canvass Mexican, Cajun, barbecue, seafood, Italian, Thai, and even Japanese. Italian dishes, needless to say, fare scarcely better. While chicken parmigiana is nicely tender with crispy batter, linguine are a slippery, dissociated disaster; tomato sauce repels the overcooked pasta like a magnet facing the wrong way. So The Pub is not an Italian restaurant. But it's harder to forgive the unreliable pub food and American fare. Potato skins with bacon and cheese are dominated by bland, mealy potato. Buffalo wings are mediocre, with a vinegary sauce that doesn't quite hit the Buffalo-wing spot; chicken fingers are just okay; and the mozzarella falls out of the mozzarella sticks, leaving a fried shell. A sirloin steak ordered medium-rare is likely to arrive well done, though well spiced, while The Pub's Caesar salad tastes only of iceberg lettuce, with few signs of anchovy paste, egg, or even dressing of any sort.
The atmosphere and famously attractive waitstaff rescue the place somewhat. Inside, wooden booths and tables are relaxed and comfortable in the typical American bar-and-grill style, including Pac-Man. Meanwhile, there's a pleasant array of outdoor seating in a little patio nestled next to a parking lot. It's nonetheless well concealed by vines, umbrellas, and fences; the patio provides a delightful respite from April through October, especially for drinks. The Pub is rarely overcrowded, and thus accommodates large groups well. Promo nights sponsored by liquor companies can sometimes spice things up further, and occasionally DJ-backed dancing will erupt on weekend nights. Perhaps the place has gone downhill since the days when Natalie Cole got her singing career going here. In short, The Pub's strengths are three: burgers, drinks, and the patio. The rest is a crapshoot.