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OPUS pares food and jazz in Armory

Armory Square's latest addition to great food is OPUS, a warm and grown up European style restaurant with cool arts and jazz energy. First time local owners Don and Kristina Dixie are very pleased with the results of their efforts to create a mellow dining spot with live jazz and piano acts. "We wanted to blend in with Armory Square because we want people to go from place to place, but we wanted to be something more relaxing for our age group," said Tina, who took charge of the design. The home of what used to be Daniel Jacks and Sweet Papa's Pizza has finally been given justice using the lounge entrance as an overlook to a small stage and intimate tables below. Connected by a sexy spiral staircase, the tall and skinny once-was-alley takes maximizing city spaces to another level, turning the exterior walls of two buildings into interiors now, rich with textures and urban vibe.

The menu at OPUS created by chef Nicolas Dessein brings native experience of Mediterranean kitchens to Syracuse, with respect for old world ingredients and consistency. "The menu is about Mediterranean home style cooking with simple ingredients," said Dessein, who lists olives and dry salamis as essential flavors, followed by basil, lavender and tomatoes. Regional CNY farms provide groceries for a slow food menu he believes in, even if he has to drive when delivery is not an option. Dessein prepares the sauce for his Lamb Curry entr (c)e for 12 hours and adds details like a berry reduction to the bottom of a cr me brulee dessert. Simplicity in his menu is characterized by well thought out pairings of food prepared in traditional kitchens.

Highlights that chef suggests are the Thai Fried Tortellini, surprisingly filled with ginger chicken and lemon grass with a sesame soy sauce, Pizza Flambee that is prepared on light puff pastry, Chicken Provencal pan seared to order with roasted rosemary lemon flavors paired with field mushrooms, and the Lamb Curry which he offers as his best dish.

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