For this fall’s Restaurant Week, the sophisticated Binghamton speakeasy Social on State is offering a $35 dinner menu. As someone who had never even heard of Social on State prior to interning for Pipe Dream, I was intrigued to try one of Binghamton’s more high-end spots. So, on a warm September evening, my photographer Michael and I set out to sample the establishment’s illustrious menu.
Once seated, we both marveled at the stylish vibe created by the neon purple lighting and softly glowing candles. Not long after arriving, our waiter, who was wonderful throughout the night, arrived to take our orders. The restaurant also very generously offered to serve us any drinks outside of the Restaurant Week menu free of charge. Never one to turn down free booze, I ordered the cincider cocktail. The crisp sweetness of the apple cider, laced with fiery notes of cinnamon, was wonderfully refreshing. With its combination of fall flavors and warm auburn color, it was truly like sipping autumn in a glass.
Due to a slight mix-up, Michael and I were served our entrees first instead of our appetizers, but neither of us had a problem and, if anything, we were more than happy to dig into our main courses. I ordered the birria tacos for myself, which consisted of three tacos served fancifully on a black slab. The soft shells, warm and just the right amount of crispy, were overflowing with filling and garnished with crumbly cheese and cilantro. The braised beef — the star of the dish — was heavenly, pleasantly chewy and deliciously flavored. Melted cheese added an extra burst of flavor and gooey goodness. Fresh, earthy flavors were accompanied the richer ones, thanks to the onions and cilantro. The tacos also came with beef consomme, which you’re meant to dip the taco into. Hearty and rich, it enhanced the flavors of the beef even more.
Michael opted for the New York strip, which comes with a $10 supplement charge. He was served a gloriously thick slab of 12 ounce steak, served with garlic parmesan fingerling potatoes and drizzled with bleu cheese fondue. Michael had nothing but praise for the fondue, which was creamy and bursting with flavor, punctuated by a sharp kick from the bleu cheese. As for the steak itself, Michael said it was firm but not chewy, and cooked to a perfect medium rare. Needless to say, we both vigorously devoured our entrees.
We were then served our appetizers. I ordered a garlic parmesan sourdough bread that came with four sides — a vodka sauce, pesto, garlic butter and extra virgin olive oil mixed with balsamic. The sourdough loaf was baked to a golden brown and sprinkled generously on top with parmesan cheese, which, in the oven, melted into warm gooey goodness. Its large portion size is likely too much for one person, especially if you want to save room for an entree, but it would make a perfect shared appetizer among friends. Of the sauces and spreads, the pesto was the standout for me. I’ve never had a fresher pesto, and the fresh kick of herbs was the perfect way to balance the cheesy, rich bread. The vodka sauce was also stellar, with a vibrant tomato flavor that perfectly complemented the parmesan. The garlic butter, while flavorful, was a little too rich for me to handle more than a few bites, pairing with the already decadent bread. The oil dip was also too heavy of a dip for me.
For his appetizer, Michael ordered the sticky chicken. He was served three Korean BBQ drumsticks with a side of miso aioli. Michael said the chicken was cooked perfectly, and enjoyed how easily the meat tore off the bone. He loved the flavor and added that the chives and parsley sprinkled on top added a pleasant freshness. We also both loved the miso aioli and agreed it was an ingenious concept flavor-wise. Finally, we were served our desserts. I selected the pumpkin spice espresso martini, a seasonal beverage that had me squealing with delight inside. Flavored with mix-ins like vanilla vodka and pumpkin spice coffee, the resulting cocktail tasted exactly like a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, with virtually no alcoholic bite. While I nursed my martini, Michael dug into his dessert, the campfire chocolate mousse. Michael loved the fluffy textures of the dessert, and said the flavors brought back nostalgic memories of childhood s’mores nights.
Social on State isn’t the kind of place that Binghamton University students normally gravitate to, perhaps due to its prices, and honestly that’s a shame. The chic atmosphere, kind staff and delicious and creative dishes and drinks make it well worth the splurge.