To all Cornellians, Agava is no doubt known to be a culinary gem around the neighborhood. A southwestern-inspired restaurant, Agava offers a seasonal menu that highlights local and sustainable ingredients.
As part of the Food Critic Restaurant Series organized by Crème de Cornell, Cornell University’s only student-run food magazine and blog, students were invited to play the role of a food critic here at Agava. The series started just last year to introduce students to the different restaurants in Ithaca.
A classic brunch dish, this Eggs Benedict featured two perfectly poached eggs sitting atop house-smoked ham and English muffins, drowned in charred tomato hollandaise and served with roasted potatoes.
For brunch, Agava offers omelets and pancakes of the day. The Omelet special for today was served with roasted shiitake mushrooms, Bianco cheese from Keton’s Cheese Co, crispy baby bok choy, and roasted potatoes.
What I absolutely loved about this dish was the creamy Bianco cheese. I later learned that the Bianco is a soft-ripened cheese hand-made from raw cow’s milk. It is only aged for 60 days – a short period that makes the aging process extremely difficult to judge. Yet when done right, it has a unique earthy and milky flavor that goes so well with almost everything on the plate.
Another special for the day was the wood oven-baked pork spareribs in tomatillo broth, served with zucchini, green beans, potatoes, two eggs and corn tortillas. The pork came right off the bone and it was extremely tender and flavorful. At just $14, this dish is definitely worth every buck.
If you’ve never tried rabbit, here’s the place to try it. Surprisingly, this rabbit thigh, braised in mole, had a similar texture and flavor as that of a chicken. One critique, however, was that the dish lacked seasoning, and perhaps what could have been a flavorful dish turned out quite one-note.
I felt that brunch couldn’t get any better than this Wake & Steak dish. Featuring perfectly grilled local fillet mignon, crispy Brussel sprouts and potato hash, topped with two fried eggs and tomato hollandaise, this dish is as hearty, rich and satisfying as it can get.
Whether you’re a meat lover or not, this is dish is definitely the dish to get because that piece of steak, charred on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, will send you right up to cloud nine.
Don’t ever think about getting some work done after this, though, because you’re guaranteed to be in a serious food coma. Trust me.
Agava is accessible by taking a bus from Cornell’s campus to East Hill Plaza, and then walking for just a few minutes. With prices ranging from $10-$20, it’s definitely an affordable place to go with your friends. You’ll no longer need to wait for the arrival of your parents before you can get off the basic dining hall or Collegetown food for a good meal.
Also, it is located in the historic East Ithaca Train Depot commissioned in 1876 by Ezra Cornell. I guess that’s just one more reason for us Cornellians to feel a sense of belonging to this unique restaurant.