Fond farewells, and the trouble of leasing for business

Clark's Ale House, which has been a local favorite since the mid-1990s, is closing on Saturday.

Let's first talk about Clark's. It's a small, two-level pub with primarily ales on tap. They're locally famous for their roast beef sandwiches, and for a while, that's all that was it for the menu. Just shaved beef, and if you wanted, onions and cheddar. Always on a roll, always with a shot of jus.

The only noise at Clark's is talking – no loud music, no TVs, just people getting together and doing what people do best: talking about whatever they talk about.

All About Beer named it one of the 125 places to have a beer before you die. In the world. Yeah. It's that kind of place.

In it's history, Clark's typically has done steady business, but you could pretty much count on not fighting a crowd to get a drink or a sandwich. This week, it's crazy; all that steady business is coming back for a final round.

Clark's has almost two years left on its lease, but announced to its employees last Friday it would be closing. It's not for lack of money (though that's one explanation for them not moving right away), and certainly not for lack of customers.

It's that the Landmark Theatre – a Syracuse institution since the 1920s (it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the '70s) – owns the building and is expanding so that it can bring in deep-stage shows (as in shows that require a large set, like "The Lion King").

And you can't blame the Landmark for that, can you? It's really hard to hold a grudge against a live performance venue with a rich history. And kudos to Clark's for not spending two years fighting them, for recognizing that another Syracuse institution needs the space to survive.

I'm a little miffed that there's been nothing to this point on the Landmark's Twitter account, since that seems the logical place to host a discussion. [Maybe that's one reason they need the expansion.]

If anybody's looking for a good real estate investment downtown, try buying the former Stoop building in Armory Square and inviting Clark's to re-open there. Good things would come of that.

Your Take: Bars to work at

My bars to work from were the Blue Tusk, Al's, Empire, the Limerick and Suds.

Bob has some great ideas, too. Not sure how comfortable I'd be bringing my laptop to Dino, but I like Bull & Bear as a spot, and Alto Cinco is a nice spot.

In comments, Greg added Clark's, which I wish had more electricity, but I'm still down.

An evening of food and drink in Armory Square

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.

I topped the evening off with a glass of Harveys Bristol Cream sherry, served the good ol' way (room temperature in a glass) at Clark's Ale House, famous for its roast beef sandwiches and for not accepting tips at the bar.

Both the Blue Tusk and Clark's are on All About Beer's worldwide list of 125 places to have a beer before you die.

Highly recommended, all the way around.