In general, the Ithaca Ale House has already been, in my mind, established as a very good restaurant. For that reason, I decided to go there when picking a place to go out with my friends.
There, I decided to go with the Ale House Burger, which was a burger with bacon, bleu cheese, pickle, lettuce, tomato, and a dash of mayonnaise. On the side, I opted for the onion rings. All this was on a focaccia. As the menu recommended an imperial stout to drink with the burger, I had a Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout.
I was trying this burger for the first time, and it was an interesting combination of flavors as this was the first time I’ve had bleu cheese on a burger. As you probably know, bleu cheese is very pungent. Add that to pickles, and you have a burger that has a very strong flavor overall. It’s for that reason the menu recommended pairing it with strong beers, like imperial stouts (approximately 10% alcohol, thus far stronger than most beers). Overall, it was a combination that appealed to me. Once again, with higher quality burgers, the meat patty isn’t very large. A significant part of my burger’s thickness actually came from the tomato. Ithaca Ale House’s burgers favor quality over quantity. Having eaten the onion rings at Ithaca Ale House before, I knew they were very good, so that’s why I decided to go with those again.
As the name implies, Ithaca Ale House is a restaurant-come-bar, much like Rulloff’s, except it’s located in downtown Ithaca instead of in Collegetown. With that in mind, as well as the restaurant’s name, it takes its beers very seriously. For that reason, for every item, the menu suggests recommended beers to pair with it. If you’re wondering what to drink with your food, you needn’t look any further than the menu. I never felt I needed to ask, but I’m sure the wait staff would have been more than helpful too.
It may have been because my friends and I were eating dinner here on a Friday night, but the restaurant was bustling with activity. I was actually surprised we got a table as soon as we got in; the other times I came here, I had to wait something like a good 40 minutes before getting seated as it is a very popular restaurant. That said, the ambiance is what you would expect from a place that has a bar in it, where you will have to raise your voice to make yourself heard, but otherwise a pretty casual place. It’s definitely closer to the end of the spectrum of places you would go as a part of a group of friends as opposed to a place you would to go on a date.
Once again, to reiterate, Ithaca Ale House is a place I know to trust as far as good places to eat (especially if you want a burger-and-beer type dinner) in Ithaca, and it’s definitely a good place to check out if you really want to get away from Collegetown (don’t we all?). I have tried multiple burgers on their menu (The Bastard, the Perfect, The Big Sexy, and now The Ale House Burger), and I haven’t eaten one I actually didn’t like.
The verdict: The bestest best burger-and-beer place I have eaten at in Ithaca so far.