An Poitin Stil offers the least expensive bison burger I've seen in these parts, at a penny under 10 bucks. I planned to check it out during this trip to the Timonium Irish pub. But then I saw the Backyard BBQ Burger ($8.99).

The Backyard offers two types of cheeses, bacon, caramelized onions and homemade barbecue sauce for a dollar less than the bison burger. Those extras can cost you 75 cents apiece if you add them to the Stil's bison or angus burger. To keep this meal under $10 and still enjoy the civilizing effects of cheese and bacon, the Backyard was an easy choice.

Ordered medium rare, the Backyard came medium rare — by no means a sure thing in many pubs. The Stil advertises Angus beef, and this patty was pretty much as good at it gets. The smoked applewood bacon was cooked crisp, and while a bit of its robust crunch may get lost between the more yielding meat and cheese, it's clear the kitchen took some care to get the bacon right.

The mix of cheeses, too, proved that some thought went into this burger. It would have been easy enough to slap on a slice of cheddar and go with it. The layer of smoked mozzarella didn't stand out, but it blended well with the cheddar and brought its own subtle touch to the meal.

The potato roll was tall and fluffy and looked capable of overwhelming its interior fixings. But the bun was amazingly light. If you don't feel there's much more to be said about the yeoman effort of a finely crafted burger, then the bread can carry a lot of weight when it comes time to grading a pub standard. I think An Poitin Stil should get extra credit for its potato roll and barbecue sauce.

The sauce brings a tomato tang and a touch of sweet — a pleasant surprise. The Stil spreads the sauce judiciously, and it complements the Backyard's other savory fixings. A handful of kettle chips, a pickle wedge, an onion and a side of chive mayo round out the deal.

As for transporting you to the emerald isle, An Poitin Stil does about as good a job as any, provided you don't look out the windows onto York Road. Its interior is stone and dark woods with lots of nooks and small rooms. Swords, crossbows, pikes and other medieval looking weaponry adorn the walls, along with an impressive collection of antlers — some grouped to form chandeliers.

I'm not sure how far out of my way I'd go to visit An Poitin Stil, but it's a better bar than most, and especially worth a trip if you're an Irish pub fan.

An Poitin Stil

Where: 2323 York Road, Timonium

Contact: 410-560-7900, thestill.net

Lunch hours: Full menu served 11 a.m.-midnight, Sunday-Thursday; 11a.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday

Lunch entrees: $7-$12