Address: 301 W Fayette St, Syracuse, NY
Neighborhood: Downtown (Armory Square)
Menu: View Menu
Cuisine: Traditional bar food, seafood, Irish fare, pasta, soups & salads
Alcohol: Full Bar
Accepts credit cards: Yes
Music: Live music every Friday and Saturday night
Trivia Night: Mondays at 8:30 PM
Note: I realize the first 3 places that I've reviewed thus far have been bars. I plan on getting around to check out some actual restaurants soon. I did have an excellent meal at Erawan last week, but forgot to take pictures and just didn't feel like doing a review without them. I'm sure I'll be back sometime soon because the meal was very good.
Kitty Hoynes is situated on the corner of South Franklin Street and West Fayette Street. Opened in the summer of 1999, Kitty Hoynes has been a staple of the revitalized Armory Square district in Downtown Syracuse for almost a decade. Not only is this one of the better (or best?) bars in Syracuse, it's also a great place to see live Irish and Celtic music. And when there isn't a band performing, it is not uncommon to hear a Phil Collins anthology mix immediately followed by some traditional Irish folk songs. The decor of Kitty Hoynes is great and almost makes you feel like you could be in Dublin when you walk in. From the amazing ornamentation and detail of the bar to the late-1800's craftsmanship of the ceiling and moldings along the walls.
I went into Kitty Hoynes on a Saturday night around 8pm. Getting around Armory on weekend nights in the late summer can be a tad stressful sometimes, especially if you are looking to avoid mass crowds of college students. Luckily for Kitty Hoynes, the weekend crowds tend to center about a block away on Walton Street between Franklin and Clinton and more specifically around the Blue Tusk. Though Kitty Hoynes offers some great outdoor seating at tables along South Franklin Street and a whole separate room next door for restaurant seating, I decided to sit up at the bar, mainly to be able to eat and watch baseball on one of the TVs. For what it's worth, the bartenders at Kitty Hoynes are always cool about changing TV stations for a specific game if you ask them. It should also be noted that the managers, bartenders, and really all of the employees at Kitty Hoynes are some of the nicest people you'll find in Downtown Syracuse.
From a first glace at the menu, it's easy to see that this place has a fairly wide range of food; from traditional Irish favorites like bangers and mash or shepherd's pie to chicken wings, pasta, steak, and calamari, so it really isn't that difficult to find something on the menu that you might like or may like to try out for the first time. For some reason I was in the mood for seafood, though that mood could have been influenced from spending the last 5 days in Boston. Just six hours prior to being at Kitty Hoynes, I was at Union Oyster House and just couldn't bring myself to order oysters on the half shell from a place in Upstate New York (yes, I'm a snob). So I thought I would take the slight less of a gamble and go with the Brazen Head PEI Mussels (with roasted tomatoes and bacon in a lemongrass wine sauce) only to be informed while ordering that they had just run out of them. I usually take note of these kinds of situations, because if a place runs out of something, chances are the dish is good and you'll know what to get next time. So being that I was at an Irish pub, I figured a safe bet would be anything Guinness-related. Surprise, surprise. The order...
Cup of Arthur's Baked Onion Stout soup: $3.50
Guinness Steak Skewers with sweet potato fries & horseradish: $8
Total money spent with tax and tip: $14.31
The baked onion soup (please excuse the quality of the picture) was the best soup I've had in a very long time - very flavorful and covered in melted cheese with a small slice of bread in the center. Everything about this soup was great, from the three types of caramelized onions to the Guinness stout broth. Next time I think I'll be getting a bowl instead of just a cup.
The steak skewers were good and grilled very well with just a little bit of pink on the inside but could have been served a bit warmer. I've had these before and this time they just weren't quite as tasty (probably due to sitting around for too long after being cooked), but they were still good enough to satisfy. The unique horseradish drizzle adds a bit of zing to the overall meal and the perfectly-cooked sweet potato fries are a solid compliment to the skewers. Presentation-wise, I think it's a great mix of colors, especially the fact that it's served on a bed of greens. The only thing the dish is really lacking is maybe something like a raspberry vinaigrette dipping sauce for the fries as they became a tad bland after using up all of the horseradish sauce.
Overall, I think Kitty Hoynes is a great place for a meal: a solid range of interesting but related food and served by a friendly staff. I plan on going back again to try out those mussels.
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