The Syracuse Café Tailor-made for Instagram

We’re all stuck in this weird era of social media having become so integral to the success of restaurants that sometimes, the aesthetics become more important than the flavors. I never thought it would come to this, but here we are.

When Original Grain, a downtown Syracuse eatery that touts its Cali vibes and New York flavors, first began following me on Instagram a few months before its opening in 2016, I was impressed by the team’s new America approach to cuisine. The menu is set up like many of us want to eat in this post-three-squares world. They have bowls, both savory and sweet, some sushi-adjacent nori wraps, and sandwiches that aren’t your boring old burgers, smoothies, and “toasts.” Sounds like the stuff I’ve been agitating for more of for years, right? I mean, avocado toast isn’t necessarily my jam, but it IS pretty.

Once the restaurant opened, and I continued to follow its journey via online buzz, and continued to be intrigued. The interior of the place is light-filled and very, very hip. Even though this is a fast-casual set-up, they’re selling local coffees and hawking the kind of nearly-good for you food that is right up millennial alley. I just had to give it a try.

That chance came a couple weeks ago, when I met my friend Kristina there for lunch on the way up North for the weekend. I was just as captivated by the space in person as I had been via my Instagram app – it’s airy and bright. And I was enthusiastic about the sandwich I ordered: The Ruckus, with short rib, pickled red onion, jalapeno, avocado, and “rad sauce,” on brioche.

My fervor was quelled a bit upon its eating, however. While the beef on the sandwich was tender, it was not flavorful nor particularly juicy. I’m not sure how they’re holding the meat after braising, but it’s certainly not in its own juices and seasonings. The piquant red onion and fresh, thinly sliced jalapeno were a big thumbs up, and I’m a sucker for creamy avocado, but there was no sauce, rad or otherwise on my sandwich, and if that was brioche, I’m a nun. The roll was white, dry and flavorless. I’ll admit, I don’t know what rad sauce is, but maybe it would have saved this sandwich, because what was needed was some salt, pepper, and moisture.

The latte I ordered with it had to be chased to the other end of the store to obtain, but it was strong, smooth, and delicious. I believe the coffee comes from a roaster in Ithaca, which is true to OG’s commitment to everything hipster, and in this case, I approve.

Kristina’s Egg Man toast was prettier, and since it was draped in tons of prosciutto and a five minute egg, delivered much more flavor. It also received its required drizzle of ponzu dressing, for acid and punch, so it won the day. And damn, is it photogenic.

I wish I could have tried more here – the poke bowl was calling my name, and I should have listened – but two women can only eat so much. I’m going to reserve a BHS score for when I’ve sampled more of this menu, if indeed I have the impetus to visit again, but honestly, and despite the lunchtime hoards that descended on Original Grain, I’m not sure it’s for me. While I’m not ready to declare that this café puts style over substance, my lunch did seem to suggest that, and while you guys know I love a pretty Instagram post, it’s not worth sacrificing a delicious meal. I hope most of the food at OG is better than my Ruckus, because I wanted to like it here, but I didn't get the proof of that during my visit. My hunger is big; my personality is bigger! 

Original Grain Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1 comment:

  1. The best food is in dark restaurants that discourage photographing dishes, I'm sure of it.