Walking into 205 Dry, the hidden speakeasy nestled on bustling State Street, feels identical to looking into a time capsule of the Roaring ’20s. With its antique furnishing, quirky decor and hint of modern elements, the restaurant and bar attracts Binghamton students and local residents alike. 205 Dry’s Restaurant Week menu offers a three-course dinner option for the fair price of $25.
Modeled after the illicit and often hidden pubs of the Prohibition era, entering 205 Dry is no easy task. When my photographer, Kim, and I opened the glass door into what we thought was the restaurant, we were instead met with an old bookcase that seemingly served as an obstacle to our dinner plans. We soon discovered that the knob on the bookcase is actually the only entrance into the disguised speakeasy.
Right when we walked in, we were greeted by a waitress dressed in a beaded flapper dress and rhinestone flapper cap. She took us to our table, which was decorated with flowers and a candle placed onto a vintage book. To our excitement, the menus also lit up when you opened the cover so we could see our list of food options in the dark setting.
The first course options consist of two types of cocktails and three different appetizers: the 205 Apple Pie and the Winter Stargazer, and buffalo cauliflower bites, fried Brussels sprouts and creamy butternut squash soup. I started with the Winter Stargazer, an alcoholic concoction consisting of aquavit, vanilla-flavored Svedka, pressed lemon, almond milk, fig, vanilla star anise syrup and vanilla sugar. In terms of aesthetics, the drink was definitely social media-worthy, as it was embellished with a Fruit Roll-Up served on a decorative stick, and the drink itself was a pale pink shade. Right as I took my first sip, I was surprised by the subtle kick of the licorice flavor from the star anise syrup, though the flavor wasn’t too intense or bitter. The vanilla flavors took the spotlight, as the sweetness helped to balance out the usual intensity of fig and licorice. Kim decided to sample the creamy butternut squash soup, which she said was in fact the perfect creamy consistency. She also mentioned that the toasted pine nuts took the soup to the next level, as they intensified the flavor.
The second course offers a hand-breaded buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, fall salad, braised short rib sliders and a Faroe Islands salmon over a salad. Although the salads sounded delicious, Kim and I opted for the less healthy options of the chicken sandwich and short rib sliders. As soon as we got our entrees, we were delighted to find that they both came with a side of fries. When I took my first bite of the sliders, I noticed how juicy and tender the ribs were, unlike the usually dry and chewy ribs I tend to receive at restaurants. Although the sliders feature horseradish sauce, the flavor wasn’t too prominent or even existent at all. I found myself wishing it was spicier, though my spice tolerance is pretty high. Kim ordered the chicken sandwich, which she mentioned was juicy, thick and had the perfect crispness to the breading. We both loved the fries and their simple salt-and-pepper flavor.
Although we were both struggling to finish our entrees, we powered through for the last course of dessert. The dessert options included an apple spice crumb cake or vegan apple cinnamon sorbetto. I opted for the cake, which was served on a decorative porcelain plate. To my delight, the cake’s texture wasn’t too crumbly or too spongy — it was just right. The apples topped with whipped cream were sweet but not too overpowering on the taste buds. Kim’s apple sorbetto wasn’t her favorite dessert, though she said that the apple flavor was excellent and tasted natural.
If you’re looking for a restaurant that combines a unique dining experience, delicious food options and classy cocktails, 205 Dry is the place to be.