How does one survive being polar-vortexed on what seems like a regular basis these days? You can decide to never leave your home, which is impractical unless you are a Howard Hughes clone complete with the original’s unlimited resources. You can take a trip somewhere south, way south, and work on your CNY pallor. Maybe binge-watch the BBC’s Sherlock or How I Met Your Mother from the confines of your comfy couch, moving only to fill the popcorn bowl.
Or you can rely on some good friends to shake you out of the vortex-induced torpor by meeting at a locally owned establishment and enjoying some adult beverages and food.
That is the path I took recently, and I highly recommend it.
I met Friends G, M, and T at J. Ryan’s Pub in downtown Syracuse a couple Sundays ago. It was the first time I visited the place that sits right across from the Erie Canal Museum. J. Ryan’s offers 70 types of beer from all over the world. Even, as our waitress Ashley pointed out, the cask-conditioned ale brewed without any manmade carbonation.
I stayed local, enjoying the Middle Ages ImPaled Ale brewed down the road in the city. The rest of the gang was all over the map, enjoying the variety and the very reasonable prices.
Food is never far afield when I venture out, and J.Ryan’s offers a good sampling of bar food. I had J. Ryan’s Own chicken sandwich. It comes with ham and cheese, and is smothered in bleu cheese and chicken wing sauce. It’s served on an extra-large English muffin.
The sandwich was good, and my friends sampled everything from Reubens to burgers. It was all good, if not exceptional, and when coupled with the well-priced beer list made for a winning combination.
I read a couple of days later in The Post-Standard that the pub also is known for its Bubba Plate, a version of the “garbage plate” made famous down the Thruway in Rochester.
The Bubba Plate is served with macaroni salad and French fries as the “base,” is topped with two cheeseburger patties, and then crowned with meat sauce and onions.
I like to think I tread a centrist food path that steers me well clear of anything like the Bubba Plate, and that allows me to say a gracious no thanks to things like tofu bacon.
Anyway, the four of us chatted and chortled and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, forgetting about vortexes and wind chills and winter warnings and work woes.
J. Ryan’s provided the perfect venue for our winter respite, and I look forward to enjoying its outdoor patio in the warmer months, and more importantly, look forward to seeing my friends again soon.