Sports & Leisure Essay
Written by Nathan Mattise
Before the start of any major league season, appropriate media outlets always do previews. Typically these project each team’s success while also predicting overarching items like major season trends and individual award winners.
February may not be the start for any sport, but Dining Week in Syracuse did start last night. It might be retroactive to do it now, but here are a few predictions for Dining Week 2011 Superlatives:
Must Have Appetizer: Mini Shepard’s Pie – Kitty Hoynes
The beauty of restaurant week is avoiding the conversation about whether it’s worth getting an appetizer that evening so there’s no shame in choosing a locale based on this. There are certainly more unique options out there (L’Adour offers snails, The Mission has a dip including Monterrey Jack/goat cheese/poblanos and chorizo) but shepherd’s pie is Kitty Hoynes’ signature. They ran out of it quicker than any other vendor item during Syracuse University’s downtown orientation event last fall. It’s a traditional Irish dish from the most authentic Irish pub in Armory Square, can’t miss.
Must Have Dessert: Malbec Cranberry Wine Cheesecake – bc Restaurant
If you’re not a cheesecake person, I apologize. This sounds unbelievable. The folks at bc are notably proficient (the chef there doubles as a culinary instructor at SU) and, if food television has taught us anything, good high-end desserts require major skill sets and creativity. You can get homemade baked goods or ice cream-based dishes nearly anywhere (though Bittersweet does all from scratch, highly recommended), but nothing else offered this week has the allure of a sweet wine based cheesecake.
Highest Restaurant Week Value (Financial) – Lemongrass
Restaurant week is a prime opportunity to try a locale that’s a bit too pricey for your average Monday through Friday night out. To determine where the most value lies this week, I took the lowest and highest priced entree at a restaurant and averaged them out for a score. The top of those rankings looked like this:
Prime Steakhouse: 33.5 (on the heels of a $49 steak)
Bistro Elephant: 27
Pastabilities: 23.5 (remember, entrees, didn’t count the pasta dishes)
If Prime technically leads this system, why not them? Noting the Dining Week menus, Lemongrass (and Bistro Elephant because of their weird relationship) crushes Prime in terms of selection variety by providing two week menus. They also happen to have what would be my choice for Must Have Entree with the Pad Gra Pow – “Whiskey, fresh garlic, chili peppers and cinnamon basil sautéed with your choice of Chicken or Pork Tenderloin (Vegetarian served with sliced brown tofu).” I didn’t include the category due to lack of formidable competition.
Highest Restaurant Week Value (Quantity of Food): Dinosaur BBQ
Are any locals shocked that Dino BBQ offers what seems to be the most food? To start, they’re one of a few places (Bittersweet, Bull & Bear Pub to name a few) that offer alcohol/beverages in their $25 prefix charge. Second, their meals come with appetizer, entree, desserts and two signature sides (mac & cheese, BBQ beans, corn bread, fries – we could go on). Finally, their portions are always hearty and that shouldn’t changes this week. Consider one of the entree options, “The BBQ Combo” - 1/3 Rack of Ribs 1/4 Chicken Leg & Thigh with your choice of Ribs, Brisket or Pulled Pork. My advice? Look up the take home rules for Dining Week ahead of time.
(Links today from restaurants listed above, Wikipedia and Syracuse University)