One Syracuse restaurant that’s been undergoing a bunch of changes lately is bc. From the revamped interior, new Fayette Street signage and tweaked menu to a new concept of identity–they’ve been hard at work. A while back I wrote an article on bc’s reopening and heard about the restaurant’s renewed attitude about food, atmosphere and more so I thought I’d go see what all that actually means when it comes to dining at bc Restaurant.
I was intrigued with what I learned when I met with the staff months back, but it was high time to see them in action.
A friend and I went in for a late dinner over the weekend and tried out the new, improved menu. In the past I think bc was always seen as a more formal dining establishment. You might see several tables of business suit clad diners on any given lunch service and a range of generally high end menu items. Given that the restaurant scene is an atmosphere of constant flux it seems restaurants must either stay on the cutting edge or become boring (especially in the Armory). I believe the staff at bc identified a notion of democratizing fine dining and embraced the gastropub approach at the perfect time. A place some might have considered too formal became a warmer, more welcoming spot almost overnight. Even though changes came, the key ingredients that have made bc a success–unbelievably personalized customer service (Shaun), professionalism and top-notch food–still remain. When you look at the whole package, you’re looking at one of the best dining establishments in the Armory. While I’ve long admired bc, it’s time to get down to business.
We got to bc around 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday and were seated within minutes. There was a pretty good crowd at the time and the back dining room was nearly full. The atmosphere felt vaguely warmer and more welcoming than I remember, but as I said, still highly efficient and professional. We took our seats in the front dining room and I picked a Malbec I’m particularly fond of on the great wine menu–obviously with no regard for what I had planned to order (gotta work on that). Also ordered the semolina crusted calamari. The wine was great, as usual (Ruta 22 Malbec). The calamari came out and was plenty for two to split; I was happy to see some tentacles (the best pieces). It was an extremely simple dish, drizzled with chipotle aoili, a Tuscan seasoning and a bunch of lemons for squeezing. Call it minimalist but I really enjoyed the calamari. Simply rolled in semolina and fried, the calamari was simple and authentic. The chipotle aioli had a pleasant, surprising flavor that worked very nicely with the warm and golden fried diced squid. I recommend it if a cephalopod-centric appetizer catches your fancy. Just note that this isn’t the salty, heavily breaded and deep fried standard, but a much more honed and traditional recipe that highlights quality ingredients instead of grease and fat. And don’t forget to squeeze those lemons!
My big plan was to try bc’s new lobster mac and cheese. I’ve had some similarly named dishes around town and was never very satisfied, but something told me this would be different. In my experience most of the time you end up just wondering, “What is this I’ve been chewing on for fifteen minutes?” or, “Did they spill the entire salt shaker in this?–but I had high hopes this time around, so I went for it. I heard great things about Exec Chef Wayne Cafariella’s recipe (what you know about béchamel?), which you may have seen on a past episode of Bridge Street. Still I wasn’t sure what to expect, I don’t think I’ve had something in Syracuse that would properly qualify as lobster mac. What came out was an impressive serving of fusilli pasta (I’m assuming) and giant lobster pieces all perfectly coated with a white cheese sauce, topped with aggressive shavings of what tasted like high quality Parmigiano-Reggiano. I was actually shocked.
The first bite had a tangy, aged and cheesy flavor backed up by a heavy creme body. It was rich and delicious, without grease or too much salt. I’ll say one thing–it ain’t for the faint of heart. This is a serious order for a serious appetite that I was in no way prepared for after having an appetizer, but I gave it the old Guru try. The lobster was fresh and complimented well by the cheese sauce and tarragon. And there was A TON of it. Overall it was more of an event than a dish, demanding respect as it towered from the plate. I really liked that part–here it is, now eat it! For only $18 you get an amazing, complex mac and cheese and ocean-fresh lobster tied together with tarragon and love from bc’s kitchen. I highly recommend you try it, but just don’t get too excited on appetizers if you plan on eating it all. Get a salad or something. As far as the rest of the menu, I can vouch for the burgers, pizza and seafood as well as whatever they’re featuring for soup, which has yet to let me down. You really can’t go wrong, whether you’re grabbing a quick lunch or starting your Friday/Saturday night off with a big dinner amongst friends.
One final note. I’d like to use bc’s lobster mac and cheese as an analogy representing what bc has successfully done. You think of lobster as a high-end, expensive (it is!) and prestigious ingredient while mac and cheese is about as casual as you can get, not to mention a comfort food staple. Combine the two together and it just works–one complimenting the other and vice versa. Take the high-end and blend it with the casual, familiar and welcoming. This is exactly what the bc team have done and I know it will continue working wonders for them. They work very hard to innovate and provide great experiences day in and day out and for that they deserve the highest respect. That’s exactly what I’ve got for them.
Dinner for two generally runs in the $60+ range depending on the order, of course.
All Guru Reviews reflect my OPINION based on a real experience at various Syracuse restaurants.
Tuesday – Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday – Saturday 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Special thanks to my friend (and bc general manager) Shaun Preble.
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