Yesterday we did my favorite coffee shops to work from in the area. Well, it's Friday and you're ready to get your weekend on, so where can you get a good brew while finishing up for the week?
1. The Blue Tusk. OK, so the Tusk is over-priced, has consistently mediocre food and a staff that could care a little more. They have a great beer list, and a back room with two little counters that have electrical outlets and wifi from about six different places. There's almost never anybody back there, and even the bar staff will forget you're back there if you stick around long enough. Just don't get locked in!
2. Al's Wine & Whiskey. You kind of have to sneak around at Al's to snag some electricity, but the food is excellent, as are the happy hour specials. They keep a rotating selection of 20 bottles of wine available for $20 each, and if you don't finish it, they'll give you the rest in a to-go bag (for realz). They also have decent beers and a fair whiskey and fine spirits selection, as far as the local scene goes (check 'em out). The place is comfy, and they managed to get entirely rid of the cigar smell from when they allowed that kind of thing. Just watch out for your mouse – they kept the holes in the counter where the ashtrays were!
3. Empire Brewing.Empire probably gets the two biggest thumbs up for food and drink. But the basement location means poor reception for some cell phones, and there's not much electricity. I'd take the last remaining hour of your laptop battery here and plan to spend a few hours "finishing up."
4. The Limerick. Terrible website aside, the Limerick is much bigger and much cleaner than you remember it. And those two cute little side counters across from the bar? They have lamps on them and electrical outlets below them. I get pretty strong wifi signals there from several different sources, and the place doesn't get crowded until 8ish. You'll also be the only working there (unless I'm there, too).
5. Syracuse Suds Factory. For the last time, no, the Suds Factory does not make soap. They make delicious beer (though, to be honest, not as delicious as Empire). It's got a great hardwood-and-exposed-brick atmosphere, and they're happy to share their wireless password if you show that you're buying while you're working. There's unfortunately only one outlet in the entire place and it's nowhere near the bar. Order some food, though; it's consistently awesome.
Happy hour and dinner on a Friday night can get stale. Last week, we mixed it up a bit.
Since we were arriving at different times, we met at our usual Friday haunt, the Blue Tusk. Rather than my usual Boddingtons (cold days) or 1812 Amber (warm days), I stepped out of my mold and tried Stone's Old Guardian. This is a barley wine from the people who make Arrogant Bastard Ale.
Old Guardian is a smooth wine that takes on the characteristics of an Irish red – slightly hoppy, with a little bit of a chocolate overtone. It's served in a 10-oz glass, and is a slow sipper.
The three of us then went on to Bistro Elephant, where we were seduced by menus, soft jazz, and a waiter who disappeared into the kitchen for two minutes to check the specials and came out with a 15-minute soliloquy.
I'll just get right to the goods here. We shared an appetizer of a spring roll filled with king crab legs and vegetables, served with a dipping sauce of rice vinegar with jalapeño peppers.
For dinner, M— had duck in a tamarind sauce, served with rice and paired with a pinot noir recommended by our server. J— had sea scallops the size of her head, served with mixed mushrooms and rice, and paired with a raspberry framboise. I had their house duck, served in a Grand Marnier sauce over mashed potatoes, paired with a bourbon old-fashioned.
Our desserts included a raspberry sorbet, a mixed-sorbet basket, and a chocolate cake with a molten center served with burnt sugar ice cream. They make all their sorbets and ice creams in-house.