By IAN SIGALOW
Perhaps one of the greatest parts of dining in Ithaca is being able to attend a decadent restaurant, but still being able to feel as if one is dining in a neighborhood venue. Besides the impeccable food (which I will get to shortly) this atmosphere is what makes Mahogany Grill such an enjoyable dining experience.
I have been waiting quite some time to write this article, and felt I needed to visit Mahogany Grill more than once in order to properly convey my thoughts on perhaps Ithaca’s greatest eatery. So, without further adieu, here is my review (based on three individual visits to Mahogany Grill).
Pre-Meal Treats: So I am a bit of a bread and butter connoisseur, which prompted me to add this section to this review. Mahogany Grill’s bread was not only fresh, but its tomato basil paste more than made up for the lack of butter. Orders were constantly requested for our table to the point where our waiter knew to have another loaf on deck.
Appetizers: French Onion Soup, Crispy Thai Chicken Wings and Caesar Salad.
After having sampled all three, I would definitely recommend each one of them. However, the Crispy Thai Chicken Wings certainly stood out to me. The wings are unbelievable and the cilantro lime sauce perfectly complements the ginger sauce that each wing is coated in. After first sampling these wings, I have ordered them each time I have gone back. However, this has not precluded me from ordering other appetizers as well (the tomatoes added to the Caesar Salad were a nice touch, and anchovies were readily available upon request).
Main Course: Tuna (prepared special for that day), Rib Eye Steak and the Cornell Chicken Sandwich.
Each time I have gone to Mahogany Grill, I have ordered something different out of a desire for experimentation, not because I disliked the previous meal. All three of these options were superb. The Cornell Chicken Sandwich was delightfully prepared with undertones of apple throughout. Mahogany Grill uses apple chutney in addition to a spiced apple mayo, which went well with the melted Brie (sweet potato fries were also an excellent addition).
The tuna, which I had prepared sushi grade over a bed of white rice, was also a great choice. Others at the table chose to have it prepared rare, which also received rave reviews.
Finally, the 14 oz. Rib Eye Steak was not only tender, but was actually prepared to my liking. One of my biggest pet peeves is ordering a steak and not having it served hot, but as if it had been sitting under the heating lamp while the other steaks grilled longer. This was not the case here. The steak had the pink center I was looking for, and the prompt service had the peppercorn sauce, demi-glace and béarnaise sauce waiting on the side, (the peppercorn and demi-glace were my favorites). Our waitress suggested pairing the steak with the baked mac and cheese and the sautéed mushrooms. The mushrooms were the obvious choice, but the big bowl of mac and cheese split communally was great for giving your taste buds a break before diving back in for more.
Summary: Mahogany Grill is an exceptional restaurant that I look forward to frequenting in the future. Its ambiance in the Commons gives it a great neighborhood feel, as if one is stepping back in time with its wooden accents and silver mugs used for drinks. Always a great place for your “go-to” meal, whether its with parents or friends. It can certainly get a bit pricey, (so maybe bring the former), but the burgers and sandwiches are definitely affordable. The full bar is great for grabbing a drink, providing customers with an excellent selection of beers on tap and an extensive list of mixed drinks; its educated wait staff is more than willing to make suggestions. If I could leave you with one bit of advice, it would be to make a reservation ahead of time (and do not forget to order the Crispy Thai Chicken Wings!).