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How would you describe the Syracuse scene?

Exactly what I was planning to do. My husband's uncle (the econ. prof. mentioned above) speaks well of the dining scene as well as other aspects of life in the city. We like to first gather impressions and information, and then decide for ourselves with open eyes. Thanks for your comments and encouragement, too.

Bad experience at Hope & Olive

Just a follow-up note on a couple of things. First, it is not that simple a matter of getting them to correct the shortcomings of the dishes. We were there for the pleasure of company and conversation, and it should be understandable that such a disruption (esp. if one or more chose to send back a dish and order something else but others didn't) would have been an uncomfortable, needlessly distracting disruption. In a sense, there is no graceful way of correcting the situation without having a serious impact on the dinner experience.

The other thing is that it was what it was, and so why not post about a negative experience? Even if we addressed it with them, it started off poorly and in multiple aspects, including the service. It strikes me that there is a sort of attempt to shout down, through devaluing a review that disagrees with the prevailing sentiments, particularly among the ardent Pioneer Valley folks who just think this area cannot be criticized (despite the prevalence of mediocrity or worse in the local dining scene). For more evidence of this, see the longish thread started by famedelupo, where s/he gives an "eh" review to a number of places that people love, and then see the repercussions. Famedelupo even writes back at one point, "what's wrong with criticism"?

Anyway, on another note, I did call one of the owners, Jim, and talked with him at length. He listened very carefully and took all criticisms well and really seemed interested in correcting things. His response was very sympathetic (including agreeing that people in this area tend to have lowest common denominator tastes!) and from his response we've decided to give it another shot, as a group of four, albeit in the "gastropub" vein that andy suggested. Will post back about that one if my comments are welcome here, otherwise, whatever....

How would you describe the Syracuse scene?

Hi catnip, Really, thank you for your frankness. This is what we need to know. I did not realize this bit about Syracuse University's enrollment -- and if we are to take jobs at the U. and stake our place in the city we'll want to investigate this further to avoid disaster.
Another question for you, considering your longterm residence in the area -- I have been reading elsewhere about the urban revitalization -- Armory Square, urban loft condos and the like. Is this just so much hype, or has it happened in the midst of the decline in the restaurant scene (and I'm guessing, other cultural offerings)?

Bad experience at Hope & Olive

Hmm......OK, I hear you on the "gastropub" idea. I'm not sure though for us whether the bitterness of the $165 bill (for 4 people) -- "FOR THAT?!?!" will subside any time soon, though.....
Funny, we were there as a first time last night, too, and here we are, both on chowhound.....! :-)

And yes, aside from the unique setting of the Night Kitchen, it would be considered standard-good but not amazing in a city with a good dining scene.

How would you describe the Syracuse scene?

Hello all,

My husband and I are considering the possibility of relocating from our current home (in western Massachusetts) to Syracuse. We would have the chance to live close-in, near the university, in what we hope to be a lively (if smallish) urban setting, with decent dining options.
We have been very very disappointed, often disgusted/exasperated, with the dining scene in this area (UMass/Amherst/Northampton/Valley). Our time spent living elsewhere (Seattle, Santa Barbara, DC, and London) does, I'll admit, color our evaluations of places we encounter today, so are we destined to be unhappy with the options in Syracuse?

For those of you who know the city, especially if you have context for comparison, can you tell me how you would characterize the place? (e.g. -- "strives for mediocrity" is how I would describe the Pioneer Valley dining scene here in MA). Are there trends that are promising or disheartening? Do "ethnic" restaurants deliver authenticity or try to please the non-native's palate instead? Are dining spaces the dowdy-stuffy-grandma's dining room kind of place we have too often encountered in New England, or something else?

I realize that generalizations have their limits, but am hoping for the birds-eye view. Thanks in advance for your insights!!!!

Bad experience at Hope & Olive

Hi all, I just want to let you know about a recent dining experience at Hope & Olive in Greenfield. We were a group of four adults, all foodies in our own way. Being fairly recent (2 years on) transplants to western Massachusetts/Pioneer Valley, we have struggled to find truly good places to dine in the area, and we were very hopeful about this place based on positive reviews and comments from coworkers. Every one of us was disappointed and both of us as couples decided we would NOT go back.

The booth we sat at was too far away from the seats, so you had to be perched on the edge uncomfortably while eating. Uneven aesthetics in the room -- some nice lighting but also "dusty rose" formica booth table straight from the 80s. Loud space as others have noted -- really made communication difficult. Packed on a Wednesday evening, even early.

Our server was new to the profession but that would have been fine with us if she was by nature halfway attentive -- but she didn't know the menu, had to go back and ask in response to every single question, didn't pre-empt orders with news of things they were out of, didn't check on us after our main course was served to see if we needed anything, tried to take our credit card a second time after it had been rung up.

The selection of beers was disappointing -- dominated by Berkshire Brewing which makes rather ho-hum beers in our opinions. Served up nicely though, not in traditional pint glasses but instead in more fashionable tall glasses -- but I wonder if they were a true 16 oz.

Apps were acceptable -- arugula salad with Italian sausage, fennel, and other bits was by our friends' report decent. We had the catalan shrimp -- fresh, nice grilled taste, but strangely placed on the plate with a pile of marcona almonds next to them. Let's just say the composition was curious.

The main courses became the main disappointment. My husband's steak was tough and not very flavorful, and tasted cheap quality -- the twice-baked potatoes bland, and an unadorned small pile of lettuce leaves (no dressing either) just added insult to injury at the $22 price tag. A friend's beef stroganoff with "hand-cut noodles" -- were we believe actually from a package dried egg noodles, and the dish was not creamy or flavorful at all but instead some small strips of sad looking beef in a bland sauce, on top of the crappy noodles, then a little spoon of sour cream on top -- a relatively small portion compared to other main courses (the place is uneven in that regard) -- for $16!!! My pork chop was tough and dry to the core, but they did not even provide me with a steak knife to try tearing through the leather. Huge quantity (two slices), two very dry and heavy hush puppies, "potato salad" with chunks of potato that were badly dried out I presume from the baking process, nondescript uninteresting "corn salsa", and collards that had been cooked/presented so carelessly that there were big cut wads from the original uncooked stack of leaves still hanging together in piles from the cutting process. It was awful, and I really mean awful. Ironically, the best meal was had by the friend who ordered the "tempeh reuben" -- the cheapest and most casual dish of them all.

Dessert was overdetermined by granola -- which went into the cheesecake crust and as a topping for the fruit crisp. Maybe not everyone's pet peeve, but I'm not interested in seeing something virtuous in my dessert, on those rare times I decide to do dessert!! How annoying -- something should either be healthy and virtuous and state its intentions up front, or decadent -- but these dishes were rich but tried to pretend that they had healthy qualities to them.

Most places we have visited in the Valley have been disappointing -- compromises in all directions on authenticity, so much of the same thing repeated (this I think is an east-coast thing generally -- with people balking if Caesar salad and shrimp scampi aren't on every menu), overpriced and self-satisfied establishments, especially in Northampton. Anyway, for about the same price one could have a lovely dinner at the Night Kitchen, one true exception in the area, which for every point given here, the opposite prevails at that lovely place.

Wellsville, NY area?

Thanks so much to houdini, coffeeteaormud, mom2, and rolise -- great to have some leads! Mom2, Lebanese/Italian sounds intriguing --- it has that continuity of being based in Mediterranean ingredients perhaps...? Wonderful, will have to check it out. If we make a surprise discovery in this area we'll certainly post as well!

Wellsville, NY area?

Hello there -- my husband and I will be stopping in the Wellsville, NY area while on a road trip. We are interested in finding a good restaurant either in or close to this town. We will have put about 350 miles on the motorcycle by the time we check in to the hotel there, so won't want to journey too far...... Would prefer healthy, non-chain, any variety of ethnic especially interesting. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.....

Hudson recommendations?

Hi there, I'll be passing through Hudson in a couple of weeks and would appreciate your comments/suggestions for dining.

We're looking for a good breakfast/brunch spot, preferably in town but leaving open the possibility of a nearby town or across the water in the Catskills area.....Don't lead us too far down the road before breakfast, though! :-)

Also, we're thinking of having dinner at Ciao Bella in Hudson. I'm intrigued by what sound to be authentic Sicilian menu items and unusual seafood. Any experiences at this place?

Thanks so much --

What's Tomasso like now?

Hi all, I've been lurking for a bit but am now a new participant on this board. I have a question -- as a follow-up to a couple of threads I have seen that discuss how the chef of Tomasso in Southborough is involved in a new restaurant in Salem. Has anyone been to Tomasso since this very recent changeover? What was your experience like? Thanks so much --