Radisson Ale House Baldwinsville, NY

Radisson Ale House

 

The Radisson Ale House sits on the Radisson Greens Golf Course in the Lysander community and is quite the gem of a destination.  At first glance it is like almost every other golf course clubhouse you’ve ever seen, and that’s fine.  The atmosphere borders on sparse but it comes off clean and classy with none of the more tacky trappings of your typical bar.  The space is divided into a bar area and separate dining rooms delineated by two tone ceiling tiles, a nice subtle touch.  Its apparent when real consideration is given to overall design and it makes a difference.  That’s the difference between a cohesive atmosphere and slapdash decoration.  I could do without seeing that glowing Red Bull refrigerator everywhere I go but apparently I’m losing the battle on that one.  The recess lighting is very pleasing but I did find the space just a bit too well lit, I know I look better in mood lighting.  Aside from the several televisions adorning the bar a projector screen sits in the dining room, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.  You could do a lot worse for a spot to watch a game or bring your kids for a nice dinner.

Behind a very bustling bar Lianna greeted me quickly and courteously, you can always tell when someone is a worker, they never stop moving.  A clubhouse like this may never be able to have a full bar but it was exceedingly serviceable, with a full compliment of draft and bottled beer, wine, liquor and mixers and what appeared to be one speed rack.  Despite the chilly temperature I ordered a gin and tonic.  A G&T is a classic warm weather drink but I don’t care, it’s April.  A gin and tonic sounds easy but I’ve been served enough flat tonic water to fill an above ground pool.  Glassware also counts, save the pints for drafts and invest in some highballs.  I am glad to say mine was spot on; nicely carbonated, properly measured and served in a highball with a lime garnish.  A golf course clubhouse better knock that drink out of the park.  Vodka and all its plethora of candy flavors dominates the American liquor industry but give Gin a chance.  I also had to try the Radisson Rad Ale, brewed by Saranac.  The details of this one are apparently a bit of a secret but I got the characteristics of an Amber or red.  Saranac does brew both an Irish Red and a Red IPA of which I was reminded.  The appearance is reddish amber without much head or lacing, the nose sweet malts.  The taste follows, those caramel malt notes turning into a lightly bitter hop finish.  I’d be surprised if the ABV was north of 6% so while I can’t rave about it you could easily quaff a few with your dinner.

Before I opened the menu Lianna recommended the Balsamic Pesto Nachos with chicken, and twelve minutes later I was glad she did.  This was a well thought out appetizer and could very well be a meal, which worked out well since the kitchen closed at nine before I could order anything else.  The salty olive component set off the dairy nicely and the chicken was cooked well.  The nachos themselves were more of a crispy triangle cut bread than a traditional nacho chip.  I don’t tend to get into price because you generally get what you pay for, but it should be noted my bill for two well cocktails, a beer and said appetizer was around 20 bucks, that’s a great value.  I also heard it from the manager that there would be some new menu items coming soon.

Aside from some personal quirks of taste I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Radisson Ale House.  I tend to look at atmosphere, food and spirits and quality of service as the big three criteria and each met or exceeded my expectations.  There will be some definite limitations a space like this has like a more modest bar and dining menu and earlier kitchen hours.  But if you can forgive those shortcomings I would absolutely recommend getting out of the village, weaving your way around Radisson and finding the Ale House.

Cheers

Michael Cross 

Pizza Man Pub Baldwinsville, NY

Pizza Man Pub Baldwinsville

 

The origin of the word “Pub” comes from Public House, fundamental to the cultures of England and other European countries and later New England.  Indeed the Public House was often the heart of the community.  Pizza Man was founded in 1973 and added the bar side in 2007.  Pizza Man Pub, locally just called “The Pub” imbibes the spirit of the hometown spot.  It is not just in Baldwinsville but it is of Baldwinsville.  The decor is fairly busy with jerseys, framed pictures and other local sports memorabilia and what I’ll call breweriana, basically just beer posters and other accoutrements.  Several televisions are always broadcasting sporting events.  I could do without some of the more fraying and cheap posters but overall it works, it’s a page out of the more is more book of decorating but it feels cozy and welcoming.

The seating is self-serve and the very busy Nicole quickly took our drink order.  I went with a Maker’s whiskey sour, a quintessential American cocktail that’s simply made with bourbon, simple syrup and lemon juice over ice.  And before I seem like a shill for Maker’s Mark my first choice was Bulleit and was not available.  When done right the blend of sweet and sour is crisp and refreshing.  I give my due to the bartender Paulie for pouring a technically spot on drink and very quickly in a crowded bar but I have to express disappointment with the ingredients.  Too sweet and too sour and lacking fresh citrus, the tell tale signs of a pre-made mix.  I’m pretty sure that could get you kicked right out of  Kentucky.  My next drink was the seasonal Sam Adams Cold Snap, a witbier or wheat beer at 5.3 ABV and 10 IBU.  The nose is true to style, banana and citrus fruit and spice.  The taste follows with those fruit and spice notes, mostly coriander.  The carbonation is moderate and overall it goes down smooth, very sessionable.  The Hallertauer Mittelfrüh hops are a common German lager hop.  Sam Adams is a great transitional beer for anyone looking to break away from the macro lagers.

The menu at Pizza Man has recently expanded and I appreciate seeing a well established spot updating their offerings.  The first plate was a slice of pizza which I felt obligated to try.  Pizza by the slice is tough whereas a pie is sure to be made to order.  I was a little disappointed, the sauce had that too sugary out of the jar taste and the freshness was not there.  This had reheat all over it.  I would encourage ordering a whole pie.  A couple other items were also forgettable, the mozzarella sticks which weren’t melted inside and Bavarian pretzels served with a mustard sauce but no melted cheese.  These are most likely food service items and go from freezer to fryer to table without much finesse in between.  The ticket time was around 15 minutes but I would have waited a bit longer for better preparation.  The easy standout were the chicken wings with a bourbon molasses sauce.  Pizza Man always knocks their wings out of the park, handily outdoing any other spot in town.

A special mention has to be made for Smart Ass Trivia, headed by Steve Patrick at Pizza Man every Thursday night.  Trivia is a bar staple and this is of the best I’ve been a part of.  I even won a nerd fight and if you want to know what that is definitely stop by.  Pizza Man Pub is a B’Ville institution and despite some shortcomings I can strongly recommend going.  It’s not so easy to capture that hometown spirit and this is where Pizza Man achieves something special.

Cheers

Michael Cross

Suds Factory River Grill Baldwinsville, NY

SudsFactoryRiver Grill

 

Syracuse Suds Factory’s venture in Baldwinsville, the Suds Factory River Grill is a mostly successful premium addition to the village’s bar soaked downtown.  The warm upstairs is decorated in a basic Nantucket Nautical and anchored by a cozy hearth-like brick enclosed fireplace.  There is nothing quite so nice as a roaring fire at your back while you’re enjoying a fine drink and meal.  A small section by the bar has oddly placed sports silhouettes adorning a wall above an ATM, the only misstep to an otherwise cohesive and superlative ambiance.  The bar is a study in well lit premium bottles and beer taps with an unfortunate but inescapable Red Bull refrigerator.  The outside patio area must offer a stunning view of the river when polar vortexes do not put a chilly damper on outside dining.

Greeted quickly and kindly by a prompt and cheery bustling bartender, I had my Maker’s Manhattan (on the rocks, always on the rocks) within minutes.  One would hope for a proper cocktail for just south of ten dollars in this zip code and I was not disappointed.  The counts were just right, not too generous to give away the store but not too stingy either.  A good Manhattan is classic, a divine balance of whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters but a bad Manhattan can very quickly turn into a glass of watered down whiskey.  Embrace vermouth folks, you’ll never turn back.  Now I do like a drink prepared in front of me, particularly with a called brand but unfortunately the bar is not set up to make that always possible so I’ll have to concede that preference.  The surprising down note was Suds’ own Honey Light Ale, the only Suds beer available on tap.  The Honey Light comes in at only 3.2 ABV, making it somewhat of a why bother beer.  Suds might describe it as delicate but that can just as well read watery.  The appearance was light and hazy without much of a head and left no lacing whatsoever. The nose was all honey and malt which carries through to the palate, with that moderate honey flavor sitting nicely on top of the malt backbone.  The hop package is interesting and includes Clusters, Cascades, Fuggles and Bullion but could stand to be more aggressive.  Overall it’s worth trying one of Suds’ own brews but do yourself a favor and get to Syracuse Suds for the rest.  For the digestif it was one of the River Grill’s own signature creations.  A hot chocolate prepared with Chambord and Bailey’s and topped with cream and chocolate shavings.  The dark cherry liqueur of the Chambord lends itself nicely to the creamy Bailey’s and chocolate.  Not overly decadent this is a great cold weather after dinner choice.  One could get lost in a sea of signature cocktails but this one stands out as memorable.

To get into the food itself the multiple menus might send up a red flag or lead to confusion but it’s fairly straight forward.  You can opt for bar fare or fine dining, both offered at least at time of review.  From order to service was just eleven minutes, surprisingly quick on a weekend night.  The first dish, the clam strip and fries, was well elevated above simple deep fried fare.  Fried clams can so easily be killed but fortunately they were cooked well and remained tender.  The Lobster Boat, Suds take on a lobster roll, was also delicious and a mishmash of New England styles.  Like the Maine style it is served cold, but with other salad ingredients as is popular elsewhere in New England.  A more seaward clientele may be more exacting but with three hundred miles between us and the Atlantic some degree of leniency can be granted.  Both dishes were bright, fresh, made with a skilled hand and seasoned and sized appropriately.  Suds offerings can stand toe to toe if not surpass most of what Baldwinsville has to offer.

The Suds River Grill presents and prices itself above the glut of the mostly good and established B’Ville destinations.  Despite some minor missteps the ambiance, service, food and drinks are up to par.  There may have been and may continue to be some expected growing pains, but I can absolutely recommend stopping by.

Cheers – Michael Cross.