Oct 08, 2011 Josef Lorenz Uncategorized
Since opening in January 2007, Funk ‘N Waffles has been serving up coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, and most importantly great waffles to the Syracuse University crowd for years.
But hold your horses: before you head over for waffles, you may need some directions. Funk ‘N Waffles is located in the Campus Plaza alley off of South Crouse Avenue and behind Marshall Square Mall. Or better yet, walk north on Crouse Avenue at Marshall Street, take a right after Bruegger’s, walk to the end of the alley, go to the last building on the left and walk down the set of dangerous-looking stairs underneath Chuck’s Cafe.
The interior is set up a bit like a funky thrift store than a restaurant, with old tables, chairs, and a few couches. It’s a perfect spot to unwind, enjoy some free Wi-Fi, and listen to live music, with local bands and touring artists performing just about every night of the week.
For a small cafe, the menu is excellent, with sandwich and panini options, made-to-order smoothies, Purity Ice cream direct from Ithaca, and fresh tea and coffee.
But let’s not forget the waffles. Creative combinations of savory and sweet options include the Pulled Pork Waffle, the Brownie Waffle Sunday and, for the vegans, Aunt Miriam’s Vegan Waffle (a secret family recipe free of any animal products). And if you can’t make up your mind about which type of waffle to get, just create your own. A few of the waffle topping options include strawberries, spinach, feta cheese, walnuts, ice cream, fried chicken and Nutella.
Pineapple Smoothie: $5
Buttermilk Waffle with Bananas and Blueberries: $5.50
Total spent: $10.50
Real fruit, no sugar, and incredibly fresh-tasting pineapple made for a really great smoothie. I don’t order smoothies that often, but this was really tasty.
If that couldn’t be topped, the buttermilk waffle was amazing: perfectly cooked, nice and crispy on the outer edges and topped with powdered sugar. And even though I didn’t ask for them, the blueberries on the inside of the waffle were a really nice surprise. I also couldn’t get over how fresh the bananas and blueberries tasted; so flavorful. Fresh ingredients, especially fruits, are critical if you want to put out good food and it’s refreshing that Funk ‘N Waffles knows this.
The table syrup was good, too. Though it didn’t have that overly distinctive maple taste, it had a really nice, light nutty flavor. And yes, I coated most of my waffle with it.
Unfortunately, looking around I couldn’t get past the incredibly poor and obvious interior design flaws: inadequate lighting, exposed wires, the cheap painting job, dingy tables and chairs, uncoordinated and chipped plates…
It begs the question: does it really matter if restaurant decor is incoherent? The best ethnic food could easily be created by some dank hole-in-the-wall eatery, and wouldn’t that great meal still warrant a 5-star rating despite its shoddy interior? Then again, you almost expect rough aesthetics if you’re eating a rustic cuisine — not so much when consuming smoothies and waffles.
727 S. Crouse Ave., Suite 8, University Hill
Cuisine: waffles, sandwiches, smoothies, coffee
Open: 9 to 9, Wednesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Good to know: Parking: On-street parking, delivery available (TakeOut Xpress)
Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the place was not clean. Dirty floors and syrupy tables.
If that kind of stuff doesn’t bother you then take it with a grain of salt. For me, the uncleanliness combined with the shanty feel of the surroundings made it a little confusing and maybe even disappointing. Mainly because the great location, great food and great vibe could easily make it a flawless place, instead of what looks like a poorly-managed, run-down cafe. My nitpicking didn’t distract me from having a really great meal, and I’ll be going back again, maybe even to check out some live music. All they really have to do is fix the interior up a bit.
So close, Funk ‘N Waffles. So close.
Josef Lorenz is a Syracuse resident and blogger who contributes bi-weekly to The Eagle. His extensive list of restaurant reviews are online at pulledintosyracuse.blogspot.com.