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Syracuse’s Ale ‘n’ Angus ‘Power Play Burger’ Named Best Hamburger in New York state

The Best Burger in New York State: Ale ‘N’ Angus Pub’s Syracuse Crunch-inspired Power Play Burger is an 8-ounce angus patty topped with strips of slow-cooked prime rib and American cheese.

The New York Beef Council’s second annual Best New York Burger contest has a winner: the Power Play Burger from Syracuse’s Ale ‘n’ Angus Pub. A team of judges visited each of the 10 regional finalists, from Buffalo to New York City, and announced the state’s winner on Tuesday.

Owner Randy Beach told The Post-Standard in March that the Power Play Burger is an 8-ounce angus patty topped with delicious strips of slow-cooked prime rib and American cheese. It’s named after the Syracuse Crunch hockey team after players, coaches, fans and even owner Howard Dolgon helped develop the hamburger creation a few years ago. “Congrats to #Syracuse based Ale N Angus Pub on winning Best Burger in #NY with Power Play Burger!” the Crunch’s official Twitter account posted, along with a photo.

The Ale ‘n’ Angus Pub is located at 238 Harrison Street, just a short walking distance from where the Crunch play in the War Memorial. The New York Beef Council presented the award at the downtown Syracuse restaurant Tuesday morning and invited Central New York burger lovers to come out and try it sometime soon.

Belly up or Sit Down in Lush Luxury

Ale’n’Angus Pub offers the lush luxury of being able to belly up to the bar or sit down for an intimate date or family affair, all in the calm of an atmosphere where shouting is an option. “We get a lot of folks coming here when those downtown events are going on,” says owner Randy Beach. “A lot of people will actually be at the event, then break away and go someplace relatively quiet so they can carry on a conversation and get a little peace of mind.”

Depending on how close the stool pigeons flock, the bar seats about 30 to 40. While one would think a crowded bar would infringe on the privacy of casual diners nearby, the two factions are positioned in a diverted proximity making it entirely possible for both to be at capacity, and neither to really even notice the other.
“The crowd here is a little more older than the Armory and Hanover crowds and it’s usually very relaxed,” continues Beach. “In fact, Ray Clark from Clark’s Ale House {located at 122 W. Jefferson St. on the fringe of Armory Square} was in here recently and we were talking about this; he said his business is completely opposite. Many bars in his area are not open during the day and do all their business at night, and by the time we are closing down, he’s just getting started. Our happy hour and nighttime dinner crowd is up and down during the summer, but we always have a great lunch rush.”

Beach’s establishment, which celebrated its third anniversary in June, is within walking distance from the Public Safety Building, the 16-floor Onondaga County Office Building and a host of other downtown businesses, all filled with employees who would rather take that short walk to close-by places like Ale’n’Angus instead of losing their fared parking spaces to travel more outward bound. But ultimately, nearness is not what keeps customers coming back to Ale’n’Angus—it’s their first-rate menu.

“We have the best darn Angus burger in town,” continues Beach. “I’ll put it up against anybody’s. It’s the best.” For $6.49, their eponymous half-pound burger comes with choice of fries or homemade potato chips and is topped with lettuce, tomato and pickle; cheese will set you back 50 cents, while adding bacon is 99 cents.
According to Beach, however, that burger is about to get a run for its money. “Our second biggest, and it might even take over our angus, is the Bixby’s Prime-Rib Cheese Steak,” Beach declares. “Everybody who has it usually ends up ordering it again, to which we say, ‘Why go to Philadelphia for a cheese steak when you can get the best darn one right here?’ In Philly, you’ll mostly likely get something with Cheez Whiz on it, and we do actually serve them with prime rib.” Call it a darn-tootin’ deal for $7.99.

Although served everyday, their sales of beer-battered haddock sandwiches ($6.99) go through the roof on Fridays, which serves as a moderate addendum to their grilled salmon ($13.99) and lemon pepper broiled haddock ($10.99) entrees. A number of steak, chicken and pasta platters round out their dinner fare, while daily specials such as chicken quesedillas on Thursdays serve as an enhancement to their 16 sandwich options, such as the chicken Parmesan sandwich and the Buffalo chicken salad wrap.

A Place of Your Own

The OnCenter complex is within a few blocks of Ale’n’Angus and aside from the midday business crowd, Beach describes the place as an “event-driven restaurant.” Dinner is regularly served beforehand to people attending Mulroy Civic Center and Onondaga County War Memorial events, while those not looking to go straight home afterward sometimes come back for a round or three of drinks.

During the summer, the kitchen at Ale’n’Angus is open Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; they are closed weekends through August. If closing time comes and a few imbibers are still at the bar, Beach ensures drinks will pour for as long as business and time complement each other financially.

“For most restaurants it’s unheard of that you take weekends off,” observes Beach. “We’re fortunate enough that we’ve got 10 good months of business and only two slow months. But that could be the other way around if we had a restaurant on the beach with only two good months and had to close the rest of the time.” Besides, the name Beach House has already been taken.

During the summer is when most of the 15 staffers use their vacation time, the shorter hours also frees up time for Beach to tend to his second hobby: the local classic car scene. As a member of the Right Coast Car Association, the organizers of the Syracuse Nationals car show that will be taking place Friday, July 18, through Sunday, July 20, at the New York State Fairgrounds, Beach offers a 10-percent discount off meals for fellow members. Anyone who eats at Ale’n’Angus that drives a classic car can bring in a 5-by-7-inch picture of it and he’ll provide the frame to hang next to the 50 or so others currently driving themselves up the restaurant’s wall.
A Place of Your Own
“A lot of regulars who have their picture on the wall will go over there as soon as they get in to see what’s new and who has been here,” he says. “It almost gives them a sense like it’s a place of their own, and that’s how we want to make everyone feel that comes in.”

– From The Syracuse New Times 2008