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Jun 11, 2012 08:26 AM

One Dinner in Ithaca or Trumansburg: Where to go?

I'll be in Ithaca for one night on business. I've read all the recent threads on this board and narrowed my choices to the following shortlist:

- Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg
- Simply Red Bistro
- Just a Taste
- Stonecat

I prefer local, sustainable food; I eat mostly vegetarian but enjoy the occasional steak; and I'd love to eat somewhere that has a bar or where it won't be conspicuous to eat alone. Which of the above is my best bet?


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  1. Hazelnut is a perennial favorite, so long as you aren't hoping to have dinner on Wednesday. (this summer, they are supposed to be open on Tuesday evenings). My understanding is that ownership has recently changed (though not indicated on the website), but the menu is still seasonally-driven.

    Simply Red Bistro at La Tourelle in Ithaca only offers breakfast, lunch and brunch. It's unclear to me whether the Simply Red location in Ovid at Sheldrake Point is still offering their dinner (the popular Southern night, or otherwise.)

    Just a Taste is delicious, but a small indoor space (though patio will hopefully be open with good weather.) Personally, a tapas place on my own is fine (get to try things with small plates!), but solo diners may be less common. Right in the middle of downtown, if you're looking to just grab a bite in town.

    Stonecat is only open Thursday- Sunday for dinner, in case that's a consideration. Great food, but Hector is a little further out from Ithaca (plan at least 45 minutes). I like that there's a decent number of vegetarian dishes usually. If you do want to head out around Seneca Lake, also consider Dano's Heuriger in Lodi, which has great vegetable salads (and I love their Heuriger eggplant!), spreads, and breads for grazing and some wonderful desserts. Also a good place (just had dinner there last night) is Suzanne's, also in Lodi- little more formal, so no bar to eat at, though there is a little outdoor seating when the weather is nice...and excellent food, including desserts (but again, only open Thursday - Sunday for dinner at this time.) Might also be a little more limited in terms of vegetarian options, but I'd call to see what's on the menu. Even if there's only one vegetarian main, it will likely be wonderful, or you could easily make a meal out of 2 starters.

    Anyway- that probably wasn't much help, but I think that proximity and day you are coming might factor in here! Have a wonderful time while you're in town.

    1. Not sure of the bar area, but if you're mostly Vegetarian, have you considered Moosewood?

      1. Solo dining at the bar in Just a Taste might work for you. I also like the idea of Dano's - no bar but still pretty comfortable for the solo diner. If you want to eat in Ithaca I've had a few nice meals at the sitting at the bar in the Northstar Pub, tucked away in the backstreets ( . Good microbrews and does appear to have decent vegetarian choices.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jmoryl

          Northstar is a great recommendation! OP, the menu looks like what they were serving in the fall, for what it worth.

        2. All, thanks for the suggestions and recs. I ended up at Hazelnut Kitchen. Indeed under new ownership - a new husband-wife team who took over the place a few months ago.

          Had a very nice meal. Started with salad of local strawberries, housemade duck prosciutto, greens, and hazelnuts with fresh mozzarella. A bit in need of editing, but strawberries were clearly local and fresh and duck prosciutto was great.

          Main was housemade pasta "puttanesca" - not really puttanesca, though: mussels, cockels, squid, and linguine in a spicy tomato sauce with a big chorizo-stuffed squid overtop. Again, needed editing, but everything was good, seafood clearly fresh, tomato sauce sort of addictive. Too much sauce for the pasta, but I won't lie: I sort of like it that way.

          Sat alone at the bar and chatted with the chef. In no time, he passed over a small plate of his riff on cassoulet: housemade boudin blanc, duck confit, greens, white beans, stock. Simple, delicious. Probably best of the night - and gratis. It's that kind of place.

          Dessert was the mocha pot de creme. Not the best flavor, but texture was great. I'd definitely go back if I'm ever in the area again.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tastytamarind

            Thanks for the report back! Glad you enjoyed the meal, and hoping to make it there again soon....

            1. re: tastytamarind

              Yes, thanks for your review. Good to know the new ownership is doing well.