Not a Nail Salon

Hand + Foot Restaurant, in Corning's Gaffer District, sounds like a place you might get a glass of wine with your mani/pedi, but actually, it's a small bar and bistro with a big communal table and big flavors jammed into small plates. You should probably go.

We hit up the antique-chic eatery on a Saturday for lunch, just before the rush and promptly ordered tostones, because mashed plantains twice-fried with garlic are a great way to let morning pass into afternoon.

These decadent little discs are served with a creamy aoli sparking with heat from chiles, and a mellow garlic flavor to echo the garlic salt with which the smashed, fried plantains are seasoned.

If you've never tried fried plantains and think bananas are a strange vehicle for chile peppers and garlic, let me help: fried plantains taste much more like a less fluffy potato than a banana. The texture is chewy, with a fragile crisp from its trip to the fryer, and lots of savory flavor. They were terrific dipped in the warmly spicy sauce - a really yummy alternative to fries.

The croque pimenteau is a sandwich that's a pretty good idea if you fancy things like eggs and pimento cheese and pork. I can't imagine why you wouldn't want to drag a fork through this gorgeous, pickle-specked tableau:

The pimento cheese, a southern staple of mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, mild pimentos and cayenne, was super thick, just on the edge of spicy, and delightfully rich. Mixed in with salty, slightly sweet ham, crunchy toasted white bread, and perked up by the bright green homemade diced pickle, this sammie sang. For $10, its is a simply delicious riff on a Croque Madame.

I wouldn't kick the fried chicken sandwich out of bed, either. I mean, I don't eat a lot of fried chicken in bed anyway, but had I the opportunity, I might indulge! The chicken, in this case, was boneless breast, coated in a flour mixture robustly seasoned with black pepper, plus thick cut local bacon, sweet and smoky. Sharp cheddar provided more richness, and half inch thick slices of house-made pickle and mustard brought in opposing flavors of sweet and tang. This is a massive and satisfying comfort food staple kicked up with artisanal touches.

The beer brisket sandwich is a fabulous gut buster, I think I managed just about half of it before groaning for it to be taken away. Beef brisket braised in beer is shredded, tender, juicy, and earthy - the ale imparting deep flavor to every bite. Sautéed onions still retained some of their crispness, and were seasoned with fresh dill for a grassy, herbal note that helped (along with the sweetness of the onions) to pick up what could have been a heavy dish. A lot of times, I find beer cheese to be kind of bland, but in this case, the molten sauce was sharp and delivered good beer flavor. This is a manly sandwich: meaty, cheesy, and with that floral, hoppy flavor of good craft beer sort of lingering at the back of every bite. 

There are great beers and some really fun cocktails on the menu at Hand + Foot, but we each had a soda. They have Mexican Coke there, made with real sugar, plus craft ginger and root beers that are much more flavorful than your run of the mill supermarket soft drinks. 

We loved our lunch at Hand + Foot, and I award it a seven on the BHS scale. In fact, I'm dying to return for some adult beverages and the fried rice and sausage dishes. This place is hip, serving new American food mixed with Korean and European influences, but not pretentious or stuffy. It's casual, and the communal, central table may seem odd at first, but it lends a sort of energy to the meal. 

Hand + Foot is now firmly on my must list for Corning, and though the menu may seem unapproachable at first, I would encourage you to really look through the ingredients provided for each dish - there is a lot of yum packed into these sandwiches and small plates! 

My 2016 schedule is really starting to take off - I have trips to Watertown, Verona, Philadelphia, Germany, Saratoga Springs, and Indiana cued up over the next two months. So make sure you're checking in the to Big Hungry Shelby Facebook page and following me on Instagram @BigHungryShelby so you don't miss a single bite! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

Hand and Foot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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