For those who read my column relatively regularly, you’ve heard me talk about hitting the proverbial wall during the school year. Every semester usually a few weeks in, during the middle or toward the end, students get slammed with work, projects and life.
Well folks, my head feels like Wiley Coyote’s after he stuck it inside a box of burning dynamite. We’re four weeks in, I’m drowning in work and I’m officially cooked. Or should I say I’m not cooking.
As I sit here being served food by someone else, I struggle to recall writing a column about anything made outside my kitchen. Well, ok, I certainly use packaged products but the fact is that while I eat out occasionally, I’ve reserved this space for you and my kitchen adventures.
Alas, this week, we’re headed downtown for appetizers.
There’s a lot of different ways to go with apps. You can seek out the insanely killer deals at places like C.B. Potts or Sullivan’s, where on Sundays the running deal has been half off the bar/food tab after 9 p. m.
This would include one of my favorites, the Irish nachos at Sulli’s, a heart attack- inducing blob of waffle-style, sliced potatoes, covered in melted, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, jalapenos, and a vat of ranch on the side. Try washing this down with my favorite- a nice rum and Coke.
Another way to go with apps is a bit more uptown in terms of price, location and originality. This isn’t a better experience, per se, it’s just different.
If you’re looking for a spot to unwind with a friend and a little live music – yeah, I know it’s been written about a lot – try Jay’s on Oak. I went there a few weeks ago and it was a chance to try an app, for me, that was new and off the beaten path.
For about 10 bucks, give the buffalo capriccio a taste. The plate comes with several slices of toasted bread, upon which you should pile some of the paper-thin slices of smoked buffalo. The meat has a smoky but not overpowering flavor that is enhanced by the thin layer of Dijon-style mustard, also on the plate.
Some of the other offerings on the Jay’s apps menu include several options between $8.50 and $12. The lobster mac ‘n cheese sounds sinful. There is also edamame, calamari, crab cakes. These folks have a happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, which include $5 martinis and $5 wine. There are also deals on the apps.
Just around the corner on College is the well-known Crown Pub, which has a cool, dark downstairs bar area that on a recent Monday was the perfect respite from a maddening day.
Like Jay’s, Crown Pub also offers meal starters such as fried calamari and, sometimes on its specials menu, the $6.95 stuffed mushrooms with a chipotle drizzle.
I tried the $9.50 Huntsman Platter, which included a fantastic, pungent gorgonzola cheese, aged Irish cheddar, Saucisson, Dijon mustard and crackers. I built every bite as if it were a mini sandwich. It was divine.
For contrast, I sampled the ahi tuna plate (they serve ahi at Jay’s too), which was sushi-grade, seared rare and resting atop sliced cukes with a swirl of wasabi cr/me fraiche. The plating was art – of course it’s not terribly difficult to make those colors look inviting.
This is just a smattering of the apps offered in town. I’m not sure what the most recent statistics say but we’ve long been known as a community with plenty of apps and beverages to go around.
So, if you’re having a week like me and haven’t blown everything from last week’s paycheck, consider a pile of nachos and some rum or a dose of schvancy – translated as fancy snacks. Anyway you go, you’re not cooking for a night.
L’Chaim and B’Tay Avon (to life and eat well).