This past Sunday I stepped outside my house for the first time since the snowstorm (or “arctic bomb cyclone,” “Icy Isis revenge blast” or whatever weirdo name it was being called on my local news station) buried me in my living room days earlier.

As I made my way through the Hoth-like landscape of my driveway, I happened to gaze down at my phone, which was glowing brightly with the current temperature outside.

It was 7 degrees Fahrenheit; -3 degrees with the wind chill factor.

I refused to believe a word of it. I climbed into my convertible and, for a moment, I considered defiantly putting the top down just to test my mind’s ability to transport me far away from this icy tundra to a sunny spring day. Ultimately, wiser thoughts prevailed. Deafeated, I left the top up, cranked the heat and drove over to the subject of this week’s Bar Exam, Doyle’s Pour House in Tuckerton.

Upon arrival at Doyle’s, my mood instantly switched from feeling sorry for myself and my fellow frozen Northeastern brethren, to an almost giddy excitement. Why? Well, for a brief moment I had forgotten just how welcoming the right type of cozy bar can be on a winter night — and, in that department, Dolye’s was about to hit it out of the park.

The bar has a simple layout — one large rectangular room with a mix of tables, both high-top and traditional styles, along with a large pool table that stands as an asymmetrical centerpiece to the room. The place gives off the kind of vibe that an old ski lodge might possess, with dark tones and soft lighting, and just enough TVs to keep anyone who came to watch the NFL playoffs entertained without it being the dominant focus of the bar. This is the type of place that, with the right company, one could settle in for a LONG night of great times over a parade of beers.

Speaking of beers, their tap list is decent, with 14 draughts available, including a few tasty local brews. I ordered a Pinelands 08087, a nicely balanced pale ale with subtle notes of citrus. Later, I opted for the Evil Genius O’Doyle Rules Dry Hop IPA, which was a bit hoppier and perfect for a winter evening such as this.

I sampled a few items from their large menu, as well. Clam strips and a crab dip both were enjoyable but could have been better. (Note: frying up fresh tortilla chips is preferable to cheap bagged ones. We can tell the difference, and it’s worth the extra step.)

doyle's 3

The standout of the night was the Irish nachos, which consisted of potato pancakes covered in bacon and cheese with a side of sour cream. A perfect, hearty appetizer packed with flavor.

The crowd at Doyle’s was a mix of all ages with a welcome friendliness that added much to the evening. Seated to my right were two groups who came in as strangers, but due to a comical mishap involving somone’s rear end nearly grazing the entrée of an elderly woman, had become fast friends and laughed their way through the next hour together. Even the elderly woman got in on the action, launching a few verbal barbs of her own throughout the evening.

Meanwhile, on my left, sat a well-dressed woman, tightly cuddled up to her sweetheart, all the while loudly detailing the events of her most recent brush with the law. In between strokes of her lover’s hair, she peppered the convo with subtle, yet thankful boasts regarding the fact that the officers in question apparently didn’t throw her “in the cage.” Way to see the silver lining. Clearly everyone here was at total ease with who and where they were. A judgment-free zone — that’s the kind of place Doyle’s is.

After a few more rounds, I headed back out into the frightful midnight frost from which I came, only this time instead of longing for the warm shine of a spring afternoon, I found myself satisfied and almost content within the chill of winter. I can thank Doyle’s Pour House for that. Sometimes the right night at the right pub can truly be a magical thing.

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