Fresh preparations of seasonal food downstairs at Bandwagon

This week, we’re paying another visit to Bandwagon, Downtown Ithaca’s downstairs pub, now open seven days a week with a classic combination of pub food and fresh fare.

Bandwagon uses a huge array of local produce and meats, offering fresh preparations of seasonal food, whether it’s brussels sprouts or an amazing ramp pesto that you’ve got to enjoy before it’s gone until next year.

There’s shrimp and grits, a great vegan coconut Thai red curry, or the signature shrimp and andouille sausage with spinach and cherry tomatoes in a red pepper and chili sauce served over cornmeal waffles. It’s tasty, creative, and filling all at once, and we come back to it over and over again.

A classic Bandwagon Burger topped with house-cured local bacon.

The varieties of hand-cut fries from Interlaken potatoes have expanded, going past the classic served with a trio of ketchup, curry mayonnaise, and malt vinegar aioli, to include fries with rosemary olive oil and parmesan cheese, or mac & cheese and sriracha brown butter sauce.

Joining the fries on the pubby side of the menu are an excellent fish and chips or an ever-changing selection of burgers made with local beef. Great as the burgers are, the veggieburgers are so good I often choose one of those instead.

Put whatever you like on the beet and goat cheese salad!

Try a beet, field greens, and goat cheese salad topped with a veggieburger. Or topped with grilled chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage — you get the idea.

Or stick to a snack, like the artichoke dip or chicken tenders. Tuesday night is wing night, with a rotating selection of sauces and rubs to choose from. Wednesday night is fries night, Thursday night is burger night, and Sunday means brunch from 11 until 3 or so.

Brunch can be as simple as the “diner plate” with eggs cooked to order, toast, and a choice of two sides like cheesy hashbrown casserole, grits, mac & cheese, salad, bacon, or surprisingly good vegan sausage. Or there’s excellent biscuits and sausage gravy, vegan french toast, and a long list of Eggs Benedict variations.

Bandwagon has some food-friendly beers, and they’re constantly changing as the small batches get consumed by happy customers. We loved the Commons Ale with the battered fried fish, and Sully’s Irish Stout is great on its own or with the fries.

A brunch version of the ridiculous waffle dish adds poached eggs.

Of course there are those few folks who aren’t into beer. The full bar includes New York wines and others from around the world, as well as top-notch spirits that include Finger Lakes Distilling’s Seneca Drums Gin and McKenzie Bourbon. Naturally, there’s also Ithaca Root Beer and Ginger Beer.

Plan on spending $12-30 on a meal at Bandwagon. Find them at Bandwagonbeer.com or under the yellow awning at 114 North Cayuga Street, or call 607-319-0699 and tell them you heard about them here.

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