Birds of a feather flock to Bullfinch
By Christopher Malone
It’s the time of the year where Central New York is changing aesthetically and getting a smidge colder.
Opportunities to sit and relax or walk outside are dwindling as quickly as leaves fall off their trees. Our minds switch from refreshment to comfort — whether it’s clothes or food.
Sure, some people may take offense but sometimes you have to go to the mall to walk. Of the times I’ve hit up Destiny USA, it’s obvious the majority mall walkers are older adults.
This isn’t my knocking on the hobby — my parents are card carrying members to the unofficial club — as it’s an invigorating activity that promotes exercise, socializing and getting out of the house during the colder months.
Where there is a comfortable and spacious place to walk, there are places to eat.
One of those places is Bullfinch Brewpub.
Similar to accomplishing laps on a favorite level of the mall, this establishment has ties with the region that have circled back around.
A couple months back, a friend and I came to Bullfinch to try its beer; its kitchen was closed at the time. We met owner Dave Collins, who was the brewmaster at Gordon Biersch, which occupied that same location until its closing a couple years ago.
This Marcellus native headed out west to Buffalo, and helped bring Resurgence Brewing into fruition before heading back to Syracuse for this Bullfinch endeavor. Collins is a friendly, laidback guy, which parallels the atmosphere. For this meal, the quick-witted and cordial Steve served up the experience.
The meal was kicked off with two shareables — duck bacon wontons ($16) and hog wings ($16). The five wontons which contain duck bacon, sweet corn and mascarpone cheese, are circled around a small pile of greens. The shareable option is drizzled with a sweet sauce with distinctive orange and ginger prominence.
The hog wings, the hammy cousin of chicken wings, are more like pork shanks. Presentation-wise, think lamb chops. The five wings — the menu says six would come in a serving — are slathered in Hawaiian barbecue sauce. The pineapple falls in the background, allowing the brown sugar to stand out. Still, it’s a delightful medium-thick sauce packed with flavor. Should Bullfinch decide to incentivize the sauce, I’d buy into it.
Sauce aside, the tender ham falls right off the bone. And there is a lot of dark meat. Sure, there was one wing missing but I feel like I got my money’s worth. It’s easily shareable among six (or five) people, and eating one is perfectly satisfying.
The dirty south sandwich ($19) contains IPA buttermilk-battered and fried chicken topped with spicy pickles, bibb lettuce and dirty south sauce. The thin piece of chicken was hidden under the green components and was my least favorite part of the entrée. It was fried a little too long but the fresh greens and pickles made up for it.
The sauce was also a wonderful complement. The yellow sauce with a slight kick was a concoction of mustard, vinegar, and (I think) Worcestershire, among other spices. It was a saturating grace.
The chips that came with the entrée ($1 upgrade for fries, $2 for sweet potato fries) were seasoned and crispy. Sweet potato fries were once my go-to side, but the crispy potato rounds validated my change of heart.
The fries are crispy though, and seasoned well. I opted for them with the beef on brewhouse ($17), which is Bullfinch’s take on a pub menu staple beef on weck. In between the in-house made kummelweck roll, which was toasted and topped with sea salt, sat warm roasted Italian-style beef topped with horseradish sauce.
The sandwich came out piping hot, so I let it sit for a couple minutes while enjoying the fries. The creamy horseradish sauce was much milder than expected, but still had a horsey-forward flavor and complemented the tender beef.
Of course, I enjoyed a flight of beer consisting of: Prismatic Spray (rainbow sherbet sour), which is what a rainbow would taste like if a rainbow had flavor and a nice, tame gateway sour; Fog Cloud (New England hazy IPA), which is bright with a pinch of pine and orange; Find Familiar Fest (Oktoberfest-inspired amber lager), which is rich and toasty with hints of caramel; and Crown of Madness (a spiced pumpkin ale) that’s not like a typical pumpkin ale due to the coffee keeping the fall flavors of cinnamon and vanilla in check.
The total bill before tip came under $90.
It’s nice to have a local business invest into space at the mall. For me, it’s one of the handful of reasons to get me through the door of Destiny USA. Bullfinch is a testament to the Central New York brewing and food community.
306 Hiawatha Blvd,
Syracuse, NY 13204
Sun.: 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Mon. – Thurs.: 12 – 9 p.m.
Fri. – Sat.: 12 – 10 p.m.