One of the things that makes the tapas scene in Spain so great is that each tapas bar has one or two specialties and, even though they may do other stuff, the house specialty is why you go to a particular bar. Since, in the larger cities, tapas bars tend to be in one part of town—sometimes even on one street—a good tapas crawl means wandering from bar to bar and eating something different and extraordinary in each place. Oddly enough, a little piece of that tradition is to be found in Syracuse, at Clark’s Ale House. They do pretty much one thing, food-wise, and they do it extraordinarily well.
Admittedly, one of the chief attractions of Clark’s initially was that it is across the street from my hotel, and in this snowy weather I was not in the mood to wander very far. I had also read they make a good roast beef sandwich. Fine, I thought—I could go for that. Good thing, as there’s very little else on the menu: barley soup, some cheeses to nibble on, and… that’s about it. Oh, and pickled eggs. I ordered a sandwich, the guy behind the bar turned around and made it, and... it was perfect. Tender, uniformly pink medium-rare roast beef sliced right there and then, doused in a bit of jus, and served on an onion roll. I can’t remember EVER having a better roast beef sandwich. And at six bucks a pop, the decision to order a second one was an easy one.
Clark’s also happens to be an extraordinarily good place to drink beer: 20 well-chosen varieties on tap, complete with information on serving temperature! Now in New York City, this usually means there’s still nothing I want to drink (okay, I’m picky). I happen to think that Munich lagers are the pinnacle of the brewer’s art, but trying to find one on tap in NYC is an exercise in futility. Oh, there’s usually something from Munich behind the bar, but it’s almost always a hefeweizen (which I prefer from a bottle, but that’s another topic) or a starkbier. (Any German beer name that ends in –tor is a starkbier. Is there something inherently yuppie about starkbiers?? I don’t get it.) But never a Munich lager. Clark’s had Spaten lager on tap. I was in heaven.
Clark's Ale House
122 W. Jefferson St., Syracuse, NY 13202