The Ram 

A huge horseshoe-shaped bar fit for a runway model to prance around on juts into the middle of the bar area. A two-story high ceiling creates a cathedral-like space. The sheer volume of air within the confines creates an ambience that swallows conversations. Televisions are so strategically spaced that no matter where you are, you'll see some movement in your peripheral vision. This is distracting to someone attempting to hold a conversation. Sentences pause mid-utterance as the eyes dart to the action on screen. The largest screen is reserved for behind the bar, as if a pagan idol in need of worship resides within. Pauses in our conversation act as opportunity to worship the TV god.

Up high, in empty spaces between screens, are large chalk signs detailing which brews are currently being served and brewed. There are many to choose from. We ask for samples of several and are granted our wish. Big Red IPA is too hoppy for me and Total Disorder Porter is a little too heavy for my taste this evening. I settle on an Idaho Blonde while my drinking companion chooses a Buttface Amber. We go for one big one and another even bigger one.

On a Monday night after eight, the place isn't crowded and we are served food quickly, but I acknowledge that it isn't football season either. Sipping beers and observing the more than half-empty space, I have a hard time deciding if this is a bar or a restaurant made to look like a bar. There is a defined restaurant space beyond the bar area but that doesn't discourage anyone from enjoying a full meal on the high tables surrounding us. To me, a bar (or bar area) should be a much more social place than a restaurant. At a restaurant you are confined to your own table with your own guests. A bar should offer much more opportunity to mingle with strangers on the fast track to becoming friends. But you need people—of which there are not many on this night--to fill the empty space. I imagine that prior to or just after a Boise State game, this place is packed. The space is definitely able to support a large crowd, but on a slow Monday night it's lonely and the bodies are few and far between. We'll return on a busier night for a more accurate assessment. The beers were good, though. That will bring us back for sure.

The Ram, 709 E. Park Blvd., 345-2929

—Bingo Barnes

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