It's no secret that I'm an avid foodie, and Ithaca is the perfect place to explore all different kinds cuisines (did you know we have more restaurants per capita than any other city in NY besides Manhattan?). After living here for two years, I've visited some hidden gems, some well-known favorites, and everything in between! Yet, somehow, I always end up at my absolute favorite spot in Ithaca: Establishment.
One of Cornell's most renowned undergraduate programs is our School of Hotel Administration. Students studying in this college are interested in the hospitality industry, and they go on to work in travel, hotels, restaurants, and more! These students are given the special opportunity to take some really unique classes during their undergraduate career. The most interesting class, in my opinion, is HA 3350 - Restaurant Management. In addition to their schoolwork, students in this class are tasked with the job of operating an on-campus restaurant called Establishment. So this restaurant is seriously run totally by students. The chefs, waiters, and hostesses are all Cornell students! Located adjacent to our famous Statler Hotel, this restaurant has a calmingly elegant ambiance, an exquisite selection of wines, and a delicious menu! I didn't discover this hidden gem until last semester, but it has become a personal favorite of mine since my first meal!
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Nina and I took a break from our studies to dine at Establishment. Our meals, photographed by Nina, were fantastic as always!
We began our meal with truffle fries, which are a personal favorite of mine. They are served with a garlic dipping sauce, and they're a perfect way to start off a meal! Nina also had a bowl of tomato soup, which came with a side of grilled cheese.
Nina and I both ordered the same entree, which does not photograph nearly as well as it tastes. This fresh filet of salmon is rested on top of savory shiitake mushrooms and a thick rice cake. It sits in a bowl of miso broth with bok choy to its sides. Although I've been to Establishment quite a few times, I order this entree every time. The menu has so many great options (steak, burger, spaghetti, etc) but I just can't seem to part with this dish. I am a big fan of fish, and I order salmon at every chance I get. I can honestly say that this is the best salmon I've ever had (except for one time in Tamarindo, Costa Rico when I had a VERY fresh fillet of salmon, but that was an exception). So, in terms of restaurants in the US that serve salmon, Establishment is my #1 right now (though I suppose I should also take into account the fact that I have been living on a college campus eating dining hall food for the past few months...).
To finish off a perfect meal, Nina and I shared a famous Establishment Cookie, which is a brownie cookie with malted milk ball ice cream and chocolate & caramel sauces. This cookie leaves me speechless. I mean, just look at it.
All good dinners must come to an end. But fortunately, there's always a brunch to follow!
Nina and I dined at The Carriage House, a popular brunch spot not far off Cornell's campus, and we brought a special guest with us: Chloe! I was so excited to welcome Chloe to Cornell, even though her car did break down on the way (if you missed that bit of drama, you might want to follow my snapstory @sloaneapples to stay in-the-know). Sunday brunch at Carriage House is a Cornell tradition, and it was so fun sharing this experience with two of my best friends!
Carriage House is always packed. At their two floor restaurant, the top floor has been converted to a waiting area with funky wooden lawn chairs and simple decorations. Downstairs in the dining area, you'll find everyone who's anyone, only the most elite Ithacans because getting a table at this place is NOT easy. (Jk, it's usually just sorority girls/frat bros with their parents for Parent Weekends and people celebrating special occasions, but I'm serious about how hard it is to get a table... I mean, no reservations? What is this?! )
After a long, strenuous, half hour wait, we were seated at a cute glass table. Nina and I are frequent diners at Carriage House, so we already had our meals picked out: THE SCONEWICH. We LOVE the Sconewich. We love it so much we spend hours texting each other back and forth about it. We were able to convince Chloe to also give this unique breakfast food a try.
The Sconewich is exactly what it sounds like: a scone sandwich. In the middle is a perfectly cooked egg sprinkled with cheese. The key is to order the Vegetarian version, because otherwise it comes with ham on it (unless you're into that sorta thing).
This is the king of all brunch foods. I have to start searching for a Sconewich spot in the city or else it's going to be a very sad summer.
Obviously no meal is complete without a yummy side! Nina and I love the roasted potatoes, so we got an order of these for the table. Carriage House makes their own ketchup, and it packs an interesting flavor that really sets this dish apart from all the others.
It was not too long before I headed back to Establishment, this time with a different crew. My friend David's boyfriend is studying in the School of Hotel Management, and as part of the Restaurant Management course, he organized a Theme Night at Establishment with a special menu! His theme was Paris, so David, our friends Carmine and Ash, and I went to Establishment for a french meal!
We each started with French Onion Soup, which I had never tried before this meal. After trying this soup I went through a range of emotions. First, I was impressed. It was delicious. Then, I was REALLY happy. It was REALLY delicious. Then, I became sad. Have I been missing out on this soup my whole life? And finally, I was content.
For my entree, I again ordered the salmon dish (so creative, I know!)
Ash is a vegetarian, so she ordered the spaghetti dish, which is topped with garlic butter, cherry tomatoes, broccolini, fennel, capers, basil oil, parmesan, and parsley. I tried a bit of it and it was SO yummy!! Definitely an interesting combination of flavors.
David and Carmine ordered the Parisian special of the night (they're much more adventurous foodies than I). The special was Coq Au Vin, a chicken dish with wine and mushrooms, and the recipe for this dish was created by the team that planned the themed menu.
All in all, dining in Ithaca is pretty fun. I love taking breaks from my normal college routine to explore the wonderful city in which I live! I also love how convenient it is to eat out. Ithaca is a pretty small city (at least the relevant parts are close... we have a lot of big farms here but I'm not really interested in hanging out with the cows). Since all the restaurants are in close proximity to the campus, it's easy to walk around and stumble upon a new dining spot! A lot of Ithaca restaurants also use Open Table (MY FAVORITEE!!!!!) to do their booking. I always make my Establishment reservations on Open Table because I'm working on racking up some points to use this summer in the city. Ah technology, isn't it amazing!
Anyway, I hope everyone is having a nice end to the school year. I've got two more finals holding me back from the warm embrace of home (and a weekend in the Hamptons!!) but I am definitely going to miss this beautiful place over the summer.