Walking into A La Mode Café and Catering, you’ll find it hard to ignore the sweet bacon aroma that fills every corner of the room. But don’t let the fried fragrance fool you – this South Campus sandwich shop caters to the health-conscious as well as the hearty eater. Tucked away in Nottingham Plaza, A La Mode serves wraps, salads, and sandwiches with fresh Boar’s Head meat and a choice of bread – including the famed Pastabilities stretch bread – delivered fresh daily. Add in homemade cookies and a smoothie/ice cream station to the mix, and this hidden gem has something for everyone.
When To Go: Since it’s a little off Main Campus, A La Mode serves as a great weekend lunch spot, though it does tend to fill up fast. Try a weekday if you’re looking for a quick bite, but don’t expect to find the place completely empty. The best part is that A La Mode now comes to you, as it recently started delivering during all of its opening hours. Bottom Line: Lunchtime is anytime!
On Tap: You won’t be able to consume any alcohol at A La Mode, but look at it as an opportunity to feed your healthier side. Try any one of their freshly blended smoothies, such as La Hoya Joya, made with frozen strawberries, blueberries and fresh bananas. The restaurant also has your basic Coca-Cola products and Pepsi fountain for the traditional folk, as well as more than 10 flavors of Western New York's Perry’s Ice Cream. Bottom Line: Try a smoothie if you want to be healthy. If not, a milkshake always does the trick.
Blue Plate Special: All of the restaurant’s uniquely titled sandwiches and wraps are certain to satisfy, but the undisputed fan favorite is the Mesquite Grille. Grilled chicken breast, provolone cheese and bacon (of course) form the sandwich’s core ingredients. It comes topped with lettuce, tomato, garlic mayo and, as with all sandwiches, a chocolate chip cookie and pickle on the side. If you’re looking for something healthy that still packs a punch, then try the Traditional Julian – a salad with Boar’s Head turkey and baked ham, along with the requisite side of Pastabilities' stretch bread. Bottom Line: With names like Pimped Out Pastrami, TBR Me ASAP, and Jabba Jaw Tuna, how can you possibly go wrong?
The Scene: Apart from its sandwich names, A La Mode’s most distinctive characteristic is definitely its décor. Purple walls decked with local artwork and random inspirational quotes, a black-and-white checkered floor and hand-painted tables all make the dining experience at A La Mode unlike any other in Syracuse. This setup simply adds to the fun, quirky milieu you’ll get when you arrive at the restaurant’s moderately sized dining area. Bottom Line: You have to see it for yourself!
The Crew: Donning black A La Mode T-shirts and jeans, the young and amiable staff members greet you with smiles and are ready to serve. Comprised mainly of young Jamesville-Dewitt residents and a few Syracuse University students, the group melds together well. Most importantly, they all know a thing or two about preparing a delicious sandwich. Bottom Line: You’ll feel comfortable ordering with someone your own age who knows exactly what you want.
The Crowd: Due to its location, A La Mode gets a lot of customers who live in the South Campus dorms and surrounding community. Yet the food attracts people from all over, so don’t think you’re too far off the beaten path that you won’t run into anyone you don't know. Bottom Line: Your usual SU crowd with some local flavor.
The Deets: If you’re tired of what Marshall Street and the dining hall have to offer, and you are looking for original sandwiches with even more original names, then A La Mode is the spot for you. Best of all, it’s not expensive. While you might expect to pay more for this type of high-quality food experience, nothing on the menu is more than $7! Without too much damage to your wallet, you’ll end up leaving satisfied -- having enjoyed a great new sandwich or wrap to keep you coming back. Bottom Line: Make the short drive or even afternoon jog down south – it’ll be worth it.
Review by Evan Klonsky