In a pair of past lives, this bright tavern was the much-lauded but always troubled Alberta Street Oyster Bar (which once had a kitchen run by pig-fed pugilist Eric Bechard). We liked the Alberta Street, but under no circumstances would we give up Branch to get it back. Chef Larry Tavernetti's short menu of casual fare is the best pub grub in town: The burger is among the city's finest; the enormous housemade pork sausages, of which you get two for $13, are even better; but best of all is the ramekin of pork rillettes (pork slow-cooked in fat until it falls apart), which comes to the table surprisingly hot, straight from the broiler. Drinks, served in sensibly squat cocktail glasses, live up to the food. Bartender Andrew Finkelman makes a fine Manhattan, but more interesting is the prospect of Branch's $18 three-whiskey flights. BEN WATERHOUSE.
What to drink: Sazerac.
Happy hour: $2 off several appetizers and the pasta 5-7 pm daily.
Entertainment: Food!