Within reachSyracuse is surprisingly fun to visit. There's always something going on, and good times can be had both on the job and in free time. Saturday evening I was contracted to photograph the annual Teddy Bear Toss at the Crunch hockey game being held in the War Memorial arena. The Syracuse Crunch's photographer Scott Thomas invited me to join him and his wife for a meal before the game at a little corner pub across the street from the arena.

The unassuming Ale 'n' Angus welcomed me with aromas of – well, beef. Really good beef. Finding my party, we chatted a bit and Scott mentioned that the 'Power Play' burger, their signature dish, was voted the best in New York State two years in a row. How could I resist.

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Instead of having fries with the burger, I requested onion rings, which I'm sure you will agree is the true measure of an establishment's quality. While waiting for the food to arrive, the ambience began to soak in. It was a fairly full but not crowded pub, much as you would find in England, with a great time being had at the bar with good natured and occasional boisterous conversation. The Christmas decorations brightened the mood and added some color.

Although there was frivolity at the bar, it did not intrude enough to make conversation difficult. Comfortable. That's what it is – comfortable and easy. The wait staff is attentive without being pesty; always right there when you need them.

I didn't get much time to look around before the dinners arrived. The menu says 8 oz burger. I think it's far bigger, with a slice of prime rib on top for good measure. It looks like a little meat mountain… The Kaiser roll it was served in had been grilled as well, and added to the flavor rather than being merely a conveyance to get the meat to your mouth. Juices seared in perfectly, the burger defines pleasure. I was a little surprised at the rather small amount of seasoning used, but after the first bite the flavor seemed to blossom on my tongue. This is how beef is supposed to taste.

The onion rings were perfectly done, just crisp on the outside with the onion 'meat' being well cooked but not mushy, flavorful without being obnoxious. Across the table, my friends also had the Power Play, but with the pub's own hand made chips, delightfully crunchy with the perfect amount of seasoning. The menu shows a selection of standard pub fare extending from fish and chips, a great variety of sandwiches, burgers and wraps up to the finer cuts of beef. The prices are reasonable with the most expensive steak being $20. My meal was less than $15 – but then, I didn't order the Guiness.

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The bar's owner is obviously a Syracuse Crunch hockey fan and happily caters to the crowds before and after the games. Whether they are celebrating a hard fought victory or licking their wounds from a stinging loss, the Ale n Angus pub seem to make it all better.

On game nights, reservations would be a good idea. The place can fill up very quickly, I'm told.

What makes a perfect evening?

Ale 'n' Angus, a Guiness and a Crunch game. Doesn't get better than this. AND, it's within reach!

238 Harrison St, Syracuse, NY 13202 or phone (315) 426-9672.

'Within Reach' highlights the food, wine and fun of places 'within Reach' of Lansing NY.  Of course, your reach extends exactly as far as you want it to. I am Monroe Payne, Uncle Monte to some. Come with me as I visit, taste and play in our own back yard, the beautiful Finger Lakes of Central New York.