If any new restaurant trends could be attributed to COVID-19, it would be the concept of the ghost kitchen. No seating, just a kitchen and lots of take-out containers. Luckily, the owners of Luna Street Food, Jack’s Grill and Pronto recently brought the trend to Collegetown with Ithaca Ghost Kitchen on 310 Stewart Ave.
According to the Ithaca Ghost Kitchen website, “A ghost kitchen is a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals. It may also be called a delivery-only restaurant, online-only restaurant, delivery kitchen, virtual kitchen, shadow kitchen, commissary kitchen, dark kitchen, ghost line or cloud kitchen.”
Adjacent to Loco, in Luna’s previous Collegetown location, the Ghost Kitchen offers a wide variety of foods made for take-out or delivery. I had the opportunity to try a couple of items, and I can say that I will be returning not only to re-enjoy my meal tonight, but also to continue exploring the diverse menu options.
As someone who has been deeply committed to curbside, contactless pick-up for nearly a year, the concept of a “ghost kitchen” piqued my interest immediately. The menu, easily accessible to order from online, reminds me of Luna’s comforting and wide variety of cuisines. The restaurant is divided into seven virtual brands: “The Deepest Dish,” “South Street Steaks,” “The Slidery,” “The Grilled Cheese Factory,” “Pass the Pasta,” “The Sweet Tooth” and “Fuel Juice Bar.” Across these different categories, it’s difficult to think of someone who would be unable to find something to their liking.
Another benefit of their menu structure is that it offers half portion sized provisions for the sandwiches, fries and a few other items. With this, I was very excited to order the Nashville Hot Slider, Bacon Brie Melt, Crinkle Cut Fries and Triple Chocolate Cookie Dough.
I found the Bacon Brie Melt to be a mild blend of brie, caramelized onions and nicely cooked bacon. Unfortunately, those ingredients oozed too much liquid, as the toasted multigrain bread was soft on the bottom by the time I ate it. I maintain sight of this sandwich’s appeal to lovers of gooey melted brie paired with smoky bacon. However, I don’t foresee myself re-ordering this sandwich, maybe due to my preference for bolder flavors.
Next, the fries. Crispy, fun-shaped and melt-in-your mouth fries. They constitute everything a college student expects out of a crinkle cut french fry: salty, addictive, and it comes in a generous portion for a cheap price.
Ultimately, it’s the Nashville Hot Slider that hit for me. Even during the journey home, the chicken remained crispy and the brioche roll dry. The first bite packed a delicious, juicy punch. The brown sugar hot sauce tasted similar to buffalo sauce –– a comparison I do not complain about. The bread and butter pickles tucked between the saucy chicken and brioche added a welcome subtle sweet crunch. I had to finish the whole thing. The size of the slider was ideal as well because I could probably order either one slider and fries or just two different sliders next time to be satisfied. I cannot believe that single slider was only five dollars. Other local sandwich shops seem to charge nearly double for a similar portion and ingredient profile. I only wish it were slathered in more sauce.
Lastly, a friend had told me to try the cookie dough, so I went for the Triple Chocolate Cookie Dough — that friend did not disappoint with her recommendation. It was dense, rich and chocolaty. I could only get through a few bites before I was stuffed, so I would recommend ordering such a dish to share at the end of the meal.
Ultimately, Ithaca Ghost Kitchen’s menu offers fair student prices, generous portions and a wide range of tasty comfort food, which I look forward to exploring further. The concept is equally COVID-19 friendly, which goes a long way in the struggle to explore new and fun food options during a pandemic. I can only hope others enjoy the hot chicken slider as much as I did.
Julia Lescht is a sophomore in the College of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at [email protected].