Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Swallow's

Name: Swallow's
Address: 1914 South Ave, Syracuse, NY
Phone: (315) 478-9292
Neighborhood: Elmwood
Website: n/a
Menu: n/a
Cuisine: Standard Bar-Fare, Wings, Burgers
Bar Hours: Monday to Saturday 8 AM - 2 AM, Sunday Noon - 2 AM
Kitchen Hours: Monday to Thursday 11 AM - 2 PM, 6 PM - 2 AM, Friday to Saturday 11 AM - 2 AM, Sunday Noon to Close
Parking: On-street
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Takes Reservations: No
Take-Out: Yes
Waiter Service: No
Delivery: No

Swallow's has remained a cornerstone neighborhood pub since opening up in 1935 near the intersection of South Ave and Glenwood Ave. Regarded by some as the crossroads of the Strathmore, North Valley, and Brighton neighborhoods, it lays home in the city's Elmwood neighborhood; essentially located on Syracuse's south side. The area has seen better decades than the one it's in now, as you can tell by looking at the surrounding blocks that have graffiti gracing a few nearby, boarded-up storefronts. The immediate area is very much downtrodden, but that doesn't mean that a successful bar with a friendly atmosphere and delicious food can't exist there.

The vibe inside is old-school and pretty much a standard dive with help from the wood panelling along the walls, black and white checkered flooring, and several 50's-style cocktail tables spread throughout the dining area. There's darts (electronic), a popcorn machine, and a long bar that tends to host the locals chatting away. Mix in about 5 flat screens and some SU athletics memorabilia along the walls (and a surprisingly high amount of Red Sox memorabilia) and you've got a place that emits a cozy, small-town sports bar.

Shameless self-promotion: Swallow's also has a big laminated poster hanging up near the kitchen displaying the Final Four results from my wing tournament I did last year. It's amazing. Kudos, guys! *tips cap*

The menu reads like a typical pub menu (with a few added surprises): burgers, chicken sandwiches, fried appetizers, corned beef, cheesesteaks, wings (hot, medium, mild, hot bbq, and salt and pepper), and fried haddock.

Orders are placed at the bar. Large orders can be placed near the kitchen in the back.

The order... (prices aren't exact...)

12 hot wings: $6
Cheeseburger deluxe: $3.75
Fries: $1.50
Total Amount with tax and tip: $14

In case you're wondering, my friends and I typically designate January to March of each year as "Wing Season", which usually entails eating mass amounts of chicken wings, ordering pitchers of cheap beer, and watching SU Basketball games at sports bars.

This was actually my first order of wings for the blog since finishing the wing tourney last summer. Yes, my buddies rag on me all the time for crowning barbecue wings the "best wings in Syracuse" and yes, I also had my wing playoff idea totally ripped-off by a shall-not-be-named local newspaper a few months ago. Those sonsabitches! It comes with the territory, I suppose. On to the wings. Which as you can see, we ordered a ton of (multiply that first picture by 3).

These babies got 2nd place in the tournament last year, so my taste buds were amped up even before walking into the place.

Overall... I wasn't crazy about the wings this time around. I found them to be quite different from my previous visit. Slightly spongy on the outside with minimal amount of sauce or spiciness and really no hints of chili or garlic like there was before. The meat was still excellent (the wings are bought locally and are never frozen, apparently), but the texture, flavoring, and sauce was lacking. At least from what I was expecting. Even so, I thought they were slightly above average. I'd say 3 out of 5.

Here it is. The best burger in Syracuse. Yup. At least that I've been able to find so far. A thick and juicy patty topped with melted American cheese and fresh veggies and tucked between a soft and buttery bun that was slightly grilled for the perfect amount of crunchiness, juiciness, and greasiness. It was probably the most perfectly tasting burger that I've had in quite some time. And $3.75 is a steal of a value. This is going to come off as blasphemous, but I think it might be better than the Blarney Burger (and only ~$.50 more in price).

Fresh-cut fries were a welcomed surprise, but they could've benefited from maybe a minute or two longer in the frier. Still, they were fresh and starchy with a little bit of the skins on them.

Other notes...

- 25 cent wings on Mondays

It was a solid meal for a fairly classic Upstate New York bar food experience. And I'm willing to cut Swallow's some slack in the wings department due my first visit, which I thought were some of the best and most original wings I've ever had. It's an excellent neighborhood bar with great bar food and a really good place to catch a game, especially if you're willing to distance yourself from the rowdy SU student crowd. The neighborhood itself has seen some better days, but once you step inside Swallow's, you feel like you're home.

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