Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: Blarney Stone

Name: Blarney Stone
Address: 314 Avery Ave, Syracuse, NY
Neighborhood: Far West-Side (Tipperary Hill)
Menu: n/a
Cuisine: Standard Bar Fare, Wings, Burgers
Bar Hours: Monday-Sunday 12 PM to 2 AM
Parking: On-Street
Accepts Credit Cards: No
Alcohol: Full Bar

Blarney Stone is situated on the corner of Avery and Hamilton Streets in the Far West-Side section of Syracuse. It's one of the many neighborhood-style bars in the city's historically Irish district known as Tipperary Hill (or as locals say, Tipp Hill). A green, neon sign highlights the place from the outside and the friendly Gaelic saying of "cead mile failte", or a hundred thousand welcomes, greets you at its front door.

Blarney may not be an Irish pub per se, but it may as well be given the name, location, and Irish-oriented feel of things on the inside. The place is laid out in 3 small sections: a bar area with a few tables, darts, TVs, Golden Tee, and a popcorn machine, a middle area mostly for standing and watching the big game, complete with a pool table, foosball table, and jukebox, and the back area with booths, tables, TVs, and the kitchen. It's hard to believe that all of these things can fit into such a small establishment, but it all works here and comes together seamlessly.

As noted in the Top 5 Places to Watch SU Basketball, Blarney Stone lives up to the hype during basketball season and can get crowded on some occasions (and not just during games, but also on St Pattie's Day!). Some good advice: grab a table early if you can. It wasn't too crowded on this occasion, given it was a Thursday night and there was a wing special on. There were no games being televised, but still enough of a crowd where you had to wait a little while to grab a table. Seating consists of stools at the bar, tables in all three areas, booths in the back by the kitchen, and an outdoor porch (weather permitting).

Ordering food is quasi cafeteria-style: go up to the counter near the back, place your order, go back to your table, wait for your name to be called over the loudspeaker, and then pick up and pay for your order. And it's not at all uncommon to get a good ribbing from the food staff as you're ordering. Obviously, you're not in some high-class place, so don't be surprised if one of the cooks gives you a deadpan look and says "yeah, we're out of wings" just to get a reaction out of you.

The small, yet simple menu offers standard bar food like wings (hot, medium, mild, or barbecue), burgers, and fried foods (mozzarella sticks, chicken, shrimp, etc...). And for the vegetarians, they also serve a veggi burger (which can be spiced up with pepper jack cheese and chipotle mayo on request).

The order...

Pabst Blue Ribbon (Tall Boy): $2
10 Chicken Wings (Hot): $2
Blarney Burger: $3.50
Fries: $1
Total Money Spent with Tax & Tip: $9.50

First off, this is unbelievably cheap food. Secondly, as far as value is concerned, I can't imagine finding a better deal for such tasty bar food.

Pictured above are Blarney's wings served with celery and blue cheese.

The wings were excellent: crispy skins, juicy chicken, and good portion-sized. I thought the actual sauce could have been hotter, but overall, I'd say the wings were well above average.

This may have been the best burger that I've eaten in Syracuse: juicy beef topped with fresh lettuce, onions, tomatoes, mayo and ketchup, all sandwiched between two lightly grilled and airy burger buns. Soooo good and such a good deal for only $3.50.

These fries were amazing: shoestring style, served hot, and perfectly crunchy on the outside with just the right amount of starchy potato on the inside. An excellent accompaniment to a great burger. Some of the best fries I've had in 'cuse.

I was in bar-food heaven. Standard fare, but they were all done so well. One of the best things about eating a great meal is when everything in front of you tastes great, you're never quite sure where to look or what to eat next. I mean yes, it was an extremely unhealthy meal in every aspect of the word, but you only live once and I loved it all. Definitely a meal that I could eat again and again.

Some other things of note...

- There's a 20 cent wing special on Thursday nights (starts around 6 PM) and during SU basketball games. Again, it can get very crowded during the games, so plan accordingly and be prepared. Don't let the crowds deter you though. It's can be a very spacious and laid-back bar on most weekday evenings.

- Half-priced drinks during happy hour and drink specials run just about every night of the week except for Thursdays.

- Ordering at the kitchen is cash only.

- Unless I'm mistaken, I believe the kitchen closes at 10 PM (feel free to leave a comment if you know for sure).

- There is an actual Blarney stone here near the foosball table and bathrooms. Not sure if I would recommend kissing it though.

It's hard to dock the Blarney Stone in any areas. I had zero complaints about anything. Quick and friendly service, a great neighborhood bar, fun atmosphere, cheap and amazing food, good portions, all in a comfortable sports bar. The meal was awesome.

My rating of Blarney Stone:

Your rating of Blarney Stone:


John Birk said...

Do they have room for a Birkball game?

Jim Johnson said...

A dozen wings for 2 bucks. Can't beat it.