Mish Mash

Who doesn’t love a mish-mash in the summer? You might call it a mash-up, a potpourri, a clusterf**k, or any other colorful phraseology (name the musical the word phraseology came from, and I’ll give you a dollar), but what it amounts to in this instance is the fact that I’ve sampled some small eats at a bunch of places recently and don’t have a big, long, full-scale, thought-out, prettied-up review in me right now. What can I say? Miss New York was last weekend, so I’m tired; I’m dealing with some politicos at work this week and I have three news releases in process that came out of nowhere, so I’m addled; and I’ve been off my diet for five days, so I’m puffy. Gimme a break. It doesn’t mean this post won’t make your mouth water, it just means I may not be up for words like “unctuous,” or “bodacious.” Here we go.

You stay up partying hard with young things this pretty all weekend, and tell me if you could write a coherent blog afterwards!

Bandwagon Brew Pub – Ithaca, NY

Back in May, the morning after some enthusiastic imbibing in and around Binghamton, I took Melinda to Ithaca for some pampering at August Moon Spa followed by lunch at Bandwagon Brew Pub. The pub had just begun weekend lunch service, and I had read good things about it online and heard it was a Central NY standout by word of mouth. We were seated in the “grotto” space, which was noisy and sparse, but still warm.

This is pretty spot-on quote, wouldn’t you say?
 As I mentioned, a good time was had by all the previous evening, so ordering food of any sort was a dicey prospect, but we settled on the potato and cheese wontons, because yum, as well as bacon cheeseburgers for the pair of us. As Bandwagon’s website sports a fairly hilarious blog of its own about the inventive burger creations its chef creates for his kitchen staff after hours, I couldn’t pass up this hearty staple. First off, the wontons, which were a hungover girl’s delight and a pretty spectacular way to cheat on my limited carbohydrate diet: super creamy mashed potatoes laced with mild cheddar cheese, crammed into light-but-toothsome wonton wrappers and deep fried. They were lightly salted and peppered as soon as they were out of the oil, which is a clutch move. The dipping sauce alongside was pretty boring. They need to add some bacon, green onions, sriracha and worchestershire sauce to the sour cream and jazz it up.

Boring sauce be damned, I would like a plate of these right now
 Incidentally, in case you’re concentrating on how damaged we were from the eight bottles of wine, sake bombs, plum wine, sparkling sake, and God knows what else we consumed the night before, here is an illustrative view of Melinda after attempting to eat a potato wonton:

She couldn’t even finish one. Thank heavens one of us knows how to rally!
Burger time! I loved it – it was so juicy, it actually squirted all over my hand when I bit into it. Please do not copy and paste that sentence into a non sequitor – I might need to run for office one day. The buns here are terrific and just slightly crunchy on the outside; the bacon is cut so thick, it’s actually hard to get a clean bite. The piece de resistance is the beer mustard, all smoky and pungent and full-on mustard-seedy. Ever since I ate this burger, I’ve been patrolling the international food aisle at Wegmans, contemplating buying the Guinness mustard from Ireland in hopes it can hold a candle to BWB’s mustard.

The mess of fries could have been crispier, for my taste

In the state I was in, just moderately better off than Moaning Myrtle up there, that’s all I could try out at Bandwagon, but I’m comfortable pronouncing this place a pub you should visit. I know I’ll be back to explore the menu a bit more. I’m not sure this spot can diminish my allegiance to its rival Ithaca Ale House, across the Commons, but it seems to be throwing its hat in the ring.

Nhuy Vietnamese Restaurant – Vestal, NY

This is a new little pho spot in a strip mall on the Vestal Parkway, catering mostly I suspect to Binghamton University students. I became obsessed with the elusive soup called pho through Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel show No Reservations, which has run many episodes featuring Tony waxing poetic about this beef/noodle/chile concoction. When I heard a pho place had opened in Vestal, I didn’t waste any time scooting into the clean, cheerful, restaurant to try a taste.

Sugar, sriracha and hoisin to amp up your vittles

I ordered my big bowl of pho (pronounced fuh, for those of you who don’t obsessively watch Food Network) with eye round steak, fatty brisket and a meatball. What arrived was a wimpy-looking (but super flavorful) broth with a bit of meat and a lot of silky rice noodles. The complex broth was further jazzed up with the plate of condiments served alongside: thai basil, mung bean sprouts, lime wedges and sliced chiles. The tender brisket was my favorite of the meat trio. It had a nice textural contrast to the rest of the bowl, even though it hadn’t retained much beefy flavor. The meatballs were finely ground and tightly packed, sort of like those tiny little ones that used to come in the Chef Boyardee canned spaghetti, but tastier. The eye round, predictably, was tough and chewy.

The basil and sriracha added much-need depth and fire to the overall works, and the huge portion was satisfying. It wasn’t my favorite soup ever, nor was this, most likely, the best bowl of pho available in a tri-state region, but I liked it. I will be back to Nhuy to try other combos, and I consider this a positive introduction to Vietnamese food.

The surface bubbles kind of freak me out
 South Fin Grill – Staten Island, NY

While at the Miss New York Pageant last weekend, my parents and I had intended to hop the SI Ferry over to Manhattan’s Financial District, get some grub, and see the sights. Instead, stymied by traffic, we ended up at Staten Island’s South Beach, where we had so enjoyed lunch last year. This time, I tried the lobster roll/lobster corn chowder combo Mom had sop cherished last year, and I wasn’t disappointed. Seriously, if you’re ever stranded in Staten Island and looking for an oasis, you’ll find it here. South Fin’s deck setting is idyllic, even in the heart of the forgotten borough. I’ll have another recommendation for SI nearer the ferry next week, but for now, consider this spot and Carol’s Café your best bets on the Island.

The roll is small in stature and supermegahuge in taste
 The best part of the lobster roll is that it tasted completely like lobster and not at all like mayonnaise. The tiny little bun, small enough to fit in my palm, dense and chewy, was absolutely jammed with fresh, barely adorned lobster. The chowder was brothy enough to enjoy in the hot sun, but salty, sweet, and savory enough to linger on the palate. This dish gets two thumbs up, plus a bunch of other phalanges.

That’s about all I have to share from my food world this week, but I also would like to announce what we brought home from Miss New York: two fantastic awards, that’s what! My parents won Volunteers of the Year from the Miss New York Organization for their work as executive director and board member of the Miss Thousand Islands Pageant. In addition, the Miss Thousand Islands Pageant was awarded Best Local Production of 2012. That means, out of all the local pageants in New York, our little dog and pony show at the Clayton Opera House was recognized as the best. I just knew using Akon for opening number was a good idea;)

Award winnERs

Congratulations to my Mom and Dad on their volunteer honors, and thank you to the folks who help us with our production every year: Ann, Brian, Corri, Barry, Heather, Myron, Ticia, Morgan, Allison, Deltra, Stan, Steve, Bill, Audrey, Mary Jo, Leslie, Debbie, Russ, Laurie, et al. Volunteerism is a precious commodity, and we appreciate ours, prize or no prize. Having a shiny trophy just sweetens the deal. I also would like to toss a congrats in here for my girls: Allison, Maggie, Joelle and Sarah. I don’t think any of your read my blog, because you are ungrateful little scamps. BUT, you were all beautiful, talented, poised, gracious, hilarious, tall, skinny, blingy and floaty last weekend when it counted most, and I couldn’t ask for more. Love you!

I feel like summer is in full swing. Do we agree? Good, because I want some corn on the cob. Please comment below and let us know where you’re going for vacation this summer, and if you’ve been to Hilton Head, and where I should eat there. Or where I should eat somewhere in Upstate NY. Or comment to Melinda that she should wake up and get our psychic reservations made for Cooperstown. Or comment that my hair looks dumb like that. Whatever. Just comment! Sometimes my Wednesday afternoons are boring. My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!

PS: Oh Lord, I almost forgot to tell you that I am going to Boston this weekend with Melinda, Derek, and an assortment of wayward youths from Derek’s St. Bonaventure days to see…wait for it…Jimmy Buffet. You guys, I am 34 years old. I’m fairly certain I might die this weekend. Please offer up a prayer for me to whatever deity you call God, and for his/her/its sake, tell me where we should get brunch in Worcester, Mass on Sunday morning! I am certain I’ll look like Melinda in the above photo by then, but I may need a good bloody mary to get things right.

Bandwagon Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

Nhu Y on Urbanspoon


  1. Hey Shelby...looks YUMMO! ;-) Seeing fries like that make me sad and yet angry...sad that this is what that poor potato gave it's life for, and angry cause some mutton head didn't think to rinse, blanch and then flash fry! You're not building rockets people! 2nd the congrats to Mom and Pops...WTG! And when partying down with the Parrot Heads this weekend just remember water is your friend... it isn't just something fish have sex in...so drink some every so often...your krebs cycle will thank you for it!

    1. LMAO @ it isn't just something fish have sex in. That, right there, is some hilarity.

  2. Loooove that picture! Thanks Shelby!! I really tried to rally but it just wasn't happening. Can't wait for Buffett this weekend and I think trying to alternate water/beer is our best bet. I say that now but I bet we won't even have water......

  3. You may not remember, but you gave me permission to take that picture, Melinda! Pav, I share Melinda's worry that we won't even have water at the tailgate to drink. Oy. My tolerance is that of a sixth grader these days.

  4. Haha I remember!! I think we need to buy a case of water so we can at least have the option of hydrating. As Derek would say its going to be "reeeaaaaaaalllll niiiiiccccccceee"

  5. Congrats to your parents on their award! I had to laugh at the picture of Moaning Myrtle, but that burger does look good.

  6. I would like a water boy to attend to us all day on Saturday. I plan to enlist Mark for this task. SMD - she did so much moaning that day. But it's fine, because I've been there.

  7. Congratulations to your parents!

    And "phraseology" is from The Music Man. But you knew that I knew that.

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