If you’re looking for a change of pace from the Italian food Babylon of the Southern Tier, consider a place I’ve heard about for ages and just finally tried out: Sach’s Tee House, in Binghamton. It’s different from the norm for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the restaurant is in the back room of a bar that’s under entirely different ownership than the eatery, it’s in a rather questionable neighborhood, and one man takes your order, cooks the food, brings it to you, and washes up. That means low overhead, and low prices, but it doesn’t mean the food is compromised in any way – welcome to Sach’s Tee House! It just may be your new favorite date night hangout.
When you arrive at this unassuming pub on Hazel St., breeze right through the bar and grab a table in the homey, dim room in the back.You will go back up front to snag your beverages yourself, but your host will bring you a brief menu for the night, printed on a sheet of paper. As he cooks everything himself, you will have a small selection, but from our experience, anything you choose will be good. Our first choice was the only appetizer option of the evening, bruschetta, and it was divine.
This is bruschetta akin to some of my favorites, from Tony’s in Endicott, and Founding Farmers, in DC: airy and crunchy toasted bread, not so crisp that it tears up your mouth when you bite into it, sweet, syrupy balsamic vinaigrette, and piquant tomatoes and red onions, well seasoned. It was hard to stop eating it, even though BLD hadn’t arrived yet, so Big Hungry Melinda and I needed to save some for him. It had enough oil to make everything unctuous but not so much as to make it greasy or soggy, and that balsamic was just killer.
I encouraged Melinda to order the lobster in butternut cream sauce, because I wanted to be able to tell you all that if you ever wanted to eat lobster in sweat pants without trekking to a shack on the coast of Maine, the Tee House is your utopia. The lobster in this dish was tender, but the nutmeg in the butternut squash cream sauce was a little bit out of season for June – a little sweet. For once, I think I had the winning dish on the table.
My dish was ridiculously good, and all three of us enjoyed it – Greek sirloin over mashed potatoes with arugula and feta. The steak, besides being as tender as you would get at any top steak house, was savory incarnate. As far as I could tell, the sauce bathing both it and the potatoes was a mix of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and butter, but there could have been some wine in there, too. And you know I loved that savory, beefy goodness cut through with big bites of the peppery arugula – thank goodness this green has finally hit the Southern Tier! This was a sexy dish, with salty, savory, bright, rich, and earthy flavors all hitting the crescendo in my mouth. Holy cats, does this guy know what he’s doing!
My first instinct had been to order the lamb, but BLD loves lamb, so we elected him to choose it. This dish was almost a home run – but the baby lamb chops had been sliced so thin, they were cooked completely through. Our host hadn’t asked BLD how he’d like them cooked – so for our crew, they were overdone. That said, the blue cheese and fig were fabulous distractions from the somewhat tough meat, and those so-called buffalo chips, which were mega thick cunks of deep fried potato, were crispy, sweet, cheesy discs of delight.
Melinda and I split the frozen peanut butter pie for dessert. It was waaaay too rich for one person to polish off alone, and redolent with that roasted, fresh-peanut PB flavor. I can’t complain about the oreo crust, either. That is some nostalgia, right there. It was absolutely decadent, something that should be supplied to young girls after particularly tough break-ups.
A compelling argument could be made for abandoning your kitchen altogether and eating at Sach’s every night. It’s affordable – probably less than many of the better chain places – and the atmosphere was utterly relaxed and casual. You wouldn’t be afraid to laugh loudly here, to drop your fork, or have one more glass of wine. And the food is pretty incredible. I’m just sorry I hadn’t been sooner, but now that I have, I’ll be back, and I’m bringing friends! I award Sach’s Tee house an eight on the BHS scale – way above average for this neighborhood, and Hell, this city! This is a great place to take Mom and Dad when they come into town, for a laid back date, or a totally unassuming spot to diner with colleagues.
I have some exciting posts for you in the coming weeks, Big Hungries. From a fabulous date night spot on Cayuga Lake’s East shore, to a revisit to a Sackets Harbor institution, stay hungry, and stay tuned! My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!