With great Irish food, the Armory Square restaurant continues to be an affordable place to dine out or take out food for home
By Christopher Malone
The only problem with deciding to visit an Irish pub for dinner and eating alone is, well, eating alone.
The options can be described as purposefully heavy. However, despite common pessimism regarding the options, Irish fare is flavorful.
Take Kitty Hoynes, 301 W. Fayette St., Syracuse. For several instances there were personal struggles with laying down the silverware and placing food in the takeaway container.
Plus, as this review is taking place, this is the Lenten season. A little bit of fish for the green, a little meat for the orange, some dessert for the white, and no regrets all around. For COVID-19 penance — a pint of Guinness ($6). It was my first draught of Guinness since March 2020, and I (almost) forgot how good it tasted.
Kitty Hoynes, of course, similarly to all restaurants, is abiding by the strict COVID-19 guidelines. The restaurant felt different than its usual boisterous self. There were no vacancies at the bar, the most popular area in the restaurant that night. Table seating was available around the barroom and dining areas. However, the narrow ledge on the side wall seemed appropriate to still part of “the crowd.”
Here’s a great spot to say that Kitty Hoynes did a great job with accommodations — even around the bar. The restaurant was tidy, utensils smudge-less, and the bathroom was spotless.
Unfortunately, since my quasi-Goldilocks seating decision was designated bar space, being just slightly away yielded slower service. For instance, when the brussels sprouts arrived, I was ready to put in entrée orders. However, the server placed the dish down and pivoted quickly.
Knowing the Reuben fritters are unique, flavorful staples, I went with the — ahem! — healthier option of brussels sprouts ($11). They come with cured pork belly and wade in a puddle of honey white balsamic glaze. These quickly warmed my heart and spirit. The sprouts were cooked very well, balancing slightly charred sections with vibrant green. The pork belly were flavor bombs, anticipated surprises with each bite. The honey and balsamic glaze is something I’d try to replicate in my own kitchen; it’s not overly sweet and complimented the meat and veggies well.
The smoked corned beef sandwich ($14), plus a side of choice, in this case a cup of the French onion soup, was next on my hunger radar. Instead of opting for a burger, this stacked hand-held option lived up to its description. The corned beef was slightly, not subtly, smoky. It didn’t overpower the noticeable mustard, cheddar and arugula. The “spicy serious slaw,” although a good version, wasn’t spicy. It was an empty threat.
The onion soup was a top-notch note. This medium-hearty Irish take on the French version was Guinness-dark, rich with flavor, onion, bread and cheese. It’s the type of soup a writer can find a connection with, staring into it and getting lost in its abyss.
Bring on the meatloaf, they did. The loaves of lamb and beef, plus cheddar and white pudding ($15), were soft and didn’t disappoint. Meatloaf may be meatloaf to anybody; however, when its covered with cabbage cream sauce, it’s more special. The light, white sauce also covered the scoop of champ (essentially zhooshed-up mashed potatoes with scallions with the typical milk and butter). The fresh zucchini squash, peppers, and other veggies, with a coat of oil, sat proudly to the side and as a necessary, appropriate balance for all the meat consumed.
When it comes down to it, the honey and white balsamic trumps olive-oil coated veggies any day.
Who can say no to fish? The fish and chips ($12 for one piece, $16 for two pieces) staple is hard to pass up. Of all the times choosing this entrée, it’s always been consistent. The beer-battered haddock with chips (fries), tartar and coleslaw has never disappointed. The golden coat around the chunk of fish always exclaims a loud crack when cutting into it. Despite going for the one-piece option, it’s worth it to order the two-piece for sharing or leftover purposes.
Was there room for dessert? Nope. Yet, I couldn’t say no to the Bailey’s Irish Cream chocolate chip cheesecake ($7). It’s a mouthful to say. It’s a personal challenge to take less than a mouthful of a bite. It’s almost impossible to coherently say, “I love you, Bailey’s Irish Cream chocolate chip cheesecake” with your mouth literally filled.
It’s certainly a heavy cheesecake, and it’s worth sharing — maybe. The crispy, cookie-like crust is necessary to hold that heavy cake weight. The Bailey’s flavor is subtle
Before tip, all this food totaled $58 and change.
Kitty Hoynes continues to be an affordable place to dine out or take out food for home. Kudos to David Hoyne and staff, as well as other restaurants in the region, for making solid efforts to persevere and accommodate patrons during this pandemic.
Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub
301 W Fayette St., Syracuse
Tues. – Sat.: 11:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Photo: Smoked corned beef sandwich at Kitty Hoynes.