Celebrating a year with the reborn Simeon’s on the Ithaca Commons

This week, we’re celebrating the first anniversary of Simeon’s reopening in Downtown Ithaca. The iconic corner restaurant reopened last August just over two years after a tragic accident forced them to close.

The latest dinner menu is a little more focused than when they reopened, with fewer sandwiches and without the charcuterie plate we enjoyed last fall, but they’re supplementing the seasonal list of favorites with nightly or weekly specials, like a seafood theme on Tuesdays.

Perfectly shucked oysters by the dozen at Simeon’s. 14850 Photo by Mark H. Anbinder.

The Simeon’s oyster bar remains, featuring fresh raw seasonal oysters — and there’s a casual Oyster Room near the kitchen, if you’d like to enjoy them there. If oysters feel too expensive, it helps that they’re half price before 6pm on weeknights, and discounted all night on Tuesday.

We started with cocktails and an oyster assortment on a recent visit for a 14850 Magazine reunion — dining in the upstairs spot where our original office was in the early ’90s.

When our office was above Simeon’s, then owned by Alan Cohen, we visited a lot. If you haven’t been back to Simeon’s in a long time, you might remember the Sandwiches with a History or Pastabilities — large sections of the menu that reflected the fact that Simeon’s barely had a kitchen. That fare was left behind when Simeon’s expanded several years ago under its new owners.

This wasn’t intended to be an appetizer, but that’s how we ate it. Don’t judge us.

On our reunion visit, we also took advantage of the Lobster Roll special, splitting that and its excellent accompanying fries as another appetizer.

Other snacks and starters on the Small Plates side of the menu include a beautifully prepared beef tartare, and the kettle chips fondue we keep coming back to, warmed potato chips with hearty cheese sauce.

The braised pork shoulder entree comes with polenta and a grilled peach, which offers a bright and tangy counterpoint to the plate. The pork shoulder — the same cut often used for pulled pork — comes out nice and tender with this slow-cooking method.

If there’s a sea bass special, that’s a good bet.

Sea bass was one of the popular dishes on the old Simeon’s menu, so when there’s a sea bass special, that’s a good bet, as was this visit’s rabbit confit pasta, featuring housemade pasta and carrot-top pesto!

The Simeon’s Burger features a house blend of short rib, brisket, and chuck with local cheese and crispy onions, and the Ahi Tuna Burger is a winner with an Asian flair.

There’s always room for dessert at Simeon’s, since most come in small cordial cups that are barely more than a few spoonfuls.

Simeon’s is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner, lunch Thursdays and Fridays, and brunch Saturdays and Sundays. Plan on spending $15-50 on a meal. Find Simeon’s at the corner of State and Aurora in Downtown Ithaca, visit simeonsithaca.com, or call them at 607-272-2212 and tell them you heard about them here.

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