This Restaurant Week, Social on State is embracing fall flavors and taking inspiration from the Mediterranean and Spanish roots of tapas. According to head chef Vince Fronda, this particular menu is especially exciting — Social on State is in the process of changing its permanent menu, and its Restaurant Week menu sees a sampling of some potential dishes. Longtime fans will also notice that the restaurant has undergone a face-lift, swapping out its old decor for new, chic additions to the space, though TVs and a relaxing atmosphere keep it down-to-earth and casual.
Unlike other restaurants in Downtown Binghamton, Social serves its dishes tapas-style, and allows diners to pick any three options for $25 during Restaurant Week, running the gamut from lighter dishes to heartier options to desserts. Fronda cited fall flavors as a main theme of the menu for Restaurant Week, a profile unifying the array of offerings. Another new element of the menu was Fronda’s addition of more Mediterranean-inspired plates, like the grilled calamari and patatas bravas. Your best bet is to share a combination of dishes with your dining partner to experience the full expanse of flavors and textures from the Social kitchen. The menu isn’t divided by specific courses, so our server, Elizabeth, gave us the option to choose the order in which our dishes came out.
We decided to start off with drinks — not included with the Restaurant Week menu, but a creative and integral part of the restaurant’s menu and social ambiance nonetheless. We both chose a cranberry lime white sangria, which proved a perfectly light accompaniment to the range of flavors we were yet to experience.
The first dish we tried was the burrata salad, with no complaints. The creamy cheese — the clear star of the dish — paired perfectly with the peppery arugula, earthy beets and butternut squash, while pepitas added an unexpected crunch. Alongside the salad, we tried the mac and cheese — a Social staple well worth the hype — effortlessly presented spilling over the side of the bowl. The creamy smoked gouda was the main event, married flawlessly with the classic corkscrew cavatappi pasta.
To follow our first course, we tried the chicken tacos, which were topped with crunchy pickled carrots and jalapenos, along with a spicy sriracha aioli. The sweet undertones of the braised chicken paired with the kick of the sriracha aioli introduced a simple, yet full-bodied combination of flavors and textures. The tacos were a perfect way to follow the flavors of our first course, and with two per order, they were perfect for sharing.
Next was the kung pao squash, served with tofu over a bed of rice. Compared to our other samplings, we agreed this dish was underwhelming, featuring white rice with an overly oily sauce that didn’t seem as fresh as the ingredients in the other dishes. Though a fair and filling vegetarian option for a main course, its lack of strong flavor left something to be desired.
A standout among the entree options was the maple steak, topped with an au poivre sauce that allowed the subtle flavor of the maple marinade to shine through. Though it was a small portion of steak, the parsnip and potato puree on the side made it a well-rounded and satisfying dish, with the au poivre sauce proving versatile enough to enhance both components.
Although we were a bit indifferent toward the dessert options when first browsing the menu, we decided on the pumpkin flan. The light, airy texture of the flan, reminiscent of traditional pumpkin pie, paired beautifully with the cinnamon, whipped cream and candied ginger on top. We were also offered a complimentary peanut butter and chocolate mousse, which was light in texture but rich in flavor. After sampling both desserts, we regretted not saving more room to be able to finish them. The pumpkin flan and peanut butter mousse proved to be the perfect sweet ending to a meal of multifaceted flavors.
All in all, we were impressed by the diverse options available on Social’s Restaurant Week menu that made for a nuanced yet harmonious meal. The restaurant’s classic repertoire of tapas dishes fused with fall-inspired flavors introduced exciting twists on robust comfort foods. Diners can come to Restaurant Week at Social expecting an adventurous dining experience unlike any other Downtown — though they might find it difficult to narrow down all the offerings to just three.