Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Finger Lake Wines at The Clam Bar in Syracuse

With national clients, sometimes my work means an interesting trip to look at a space in DC or Las Vegas. And sometimes it's to check out a space in a strip mall in Syracuse, NY. It may not be a bad place, but if you manage to get stuck there overnight, as I did, you might run out of well-known restaurants once you've visited Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Spending the night alone at an airport hotel, I needed to find a place to get out for a few minutes, so I asked if they had any recommendations for dinner. It was either Applebee's or a local joint called The Clam Bar, so...seafood it was.

Walking into the place, I felt like I was entering someone's den in the 1970s. Wood paneling was barely visible beneath all the photos of sports stars. It was divey, but welcoming, so I grabbed a seat and a menu and got down to enjoying my evening. A cocktail, their version of an extra spicy Bloody Mary got the night started off right. Maybe it wasn't as spicy as the drinks I enjoyed in Mexico, but it was pretty well-crafted, and cheap in comparison to anything I could get in NYC. The caesar salad was nothing special, but a good place to start the meal. A plate of Steam Clams Provencal was much more interesting: sweet, salty and herbal. The Riesling I selected turned out to be from the sweeter style--way too much for the food, but not a bad drink on its own.

The most interesting thing for me was seeing New York wines on the wine list. Outside of the Finger Lakes, and a handful of restaurants in NYC that specialize in locally-sourced foods, we seldom encounter NY wines, even in cities as close as Rochester and Syracuse. But this is the second place on my second trip upstate this year that I have found Finger Lakes wines in an unexpected place, and it gives me hope that more Finger Lakes wines are making it into the daily conversation.

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