Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Blue Tusk

Last week, I traveled to Syracuse, New York on business for a few days. As I prefer to try the restaurants and bars frequented by locals, I asked several friends for suggestions as to where to go. Many restaurants and bars were suggested. The one that came up most frequently is that bar at which I chose to dine on my first night - The Blue Tusk.

The bar has a cool laid back vibe which lends itself well to the brew pub atmosphere they've tried to create with the Blue Tusk. I arrived around 6:00 p.m. on a weekday and the place had a good crowd. I had to wait to get a stool at the bar. That gave me a chance to check out their extensive tap list. The Blue Tusk boasts 69 beers on tap each and every day, with many more choices in bottles. There are all styles of beer and many of the best breweries in the country are represented. 

I'd been waiting to try a 2XOne single varietal ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company for some time so I started with that. The Mosaic hops were at the forefront which I loved about the beer. It gives the 2xIPA and 2xRye both a run for their money as the best in the 2x series. 

As I enjoyed this ale, I had a chance to review the menu. As you'd expect from a good brew pub, the menu featured many appetizers to choose from and even broke this part of the menu down into sections - Cold Mediterranean Vegetables, Meats & Cheese, Sliders and Quesadillas. These sections of the menu offer great small bites to go with your pint. The menu also featured an extensive list of "Specialty Sandwiches", as well as grilled panini, salads and soups. I ultimately chose to start with some salumi - Bresaolo ($5) with a small order of cornichon ($.50). To follow that, I wanted to try the "Three Pigs & Provolone Piccante" specialty sandwich ($12).

After a very short wait, my Bresaola and cornichon arrived:

Bresaolo is cured and air-dried beef from the Lombardy region of Italy. It's got an understated salinity and rich beef flavor that went very well with the hoppy beer. It was served with plenty of crackers and dijon mustard. The cornichon (small pickled gherkins) were sweet, tart and slightly spicy. They also paired well with the cured beef. This was a good way to start my meal.

Both plates were brought at the same time, so as I enjoyed my salumi, I was staring at this plate:

The "Three Pigs & Provolone Piccante" sandwich features Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella and Sopressata with roasted red peppers, banana peppers, red onion and extra virgin olive oil. This is a closer look:

It came stacked on a type of bread seen all over Syracuse - stretch bread. Stretch bread is very reminiscent of ciabatta with a chewy crust and an airy interior, but it's softer. It was delicious with this sandwich and was a great vehicle to enjoy all that glorious pork. The sandwich was lacking a piquant flavor as it needed that sharpness to pair with the richness of the meat. It was good - just not great. I ordered a side of salt & vinegar "Dirty Potato Chips" ($1.50) as I thought they were homemade. While they were not, they were still good on the side of the sandwich.

All in all, I had a great meal at The Blue Tusk. I had hoped it would be as good or close to the Blue Monk in Buffalo. While the beer selection came very close, the menu wasn't quite as good. That said, it's a great place to hang out and enjoy some small bites over a few pints. I'll be back next time I'm in town for sure.


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