By Nicole Navarro
Photos by Damian Battinelli
Sip, a modern-American fusion restaurant in Plattsburgh, is the creation of former bandmates Kyle Dyer and Dean Jolly. When their musical endeavors fizzled, the two combined their food service backgrounds and artistic flair to create a new social space in the Lake City.
The duo’s food philosophy is easily summed up in three words: less is more. One or two powerful ingredients aren’t going to steal the spotlight in any of the dishes at Sip. “We really want our food to be simple, clean, and fresh. Almost everything we serve here is homemade,” Jolly said. Their concept matches the city’s vibe. “It’s a simple life in Plattsburgh,” Dyer said. “This is a working-class town where the dollar matters.”
After one year operating at a funky side street location, the pair has secured new, expansive digs on Margaret Street. While originally aiming for an atmosphere focused on shared plates and beer, the new space will offer a full restaurant menu and bar. It’s a fresh start, and a chance to change up the décor. The walls will be covered in mural art by local artist Liz Allen.
Allen describes her artwork as graffiti art meets children’s book: “I’m obsessed with color and texture and layering. It is illustration meets messy Subway. My style always was greatly influenced by the trains and murals I’d see in NYC.”
Mural art is popping up all over downtown thanks to the Outside Art Organization. Allen’s work will fit right in with the city’s burgeoning arts scene. “With Plattsburgh really opening up to murals, and downtown growing and embracing art and culture, it is helping the whole city bloom into a really cool place,” she explained.
While Sip goes through a metamorphosis, it is important to note the level at which they cater to customers’ needs will remain the same. Sip accommodates all dietary and lifestyle preferences. Vegetarians can finally enjoy poutine with meat-free gravy, while carnivores can get their fix eating the mouth-watering Korean beef tacos. “We like to start all of our dishes with a simple base that we can add to,” explained Dyer: “You can always add meat to a dish, but you can’t take it away. I understand what it is like to be sensitive to certain ingredients, but still want to dine out. If someone has a special request, we have designed our menu to be able to accommodate it, and almost always can.”
Sip’s most popular starter came from Jolly’s insistence on including one of Grandma’s classics. His red pepper jam with cheese and crackers offers a curious surprise that strikes a chord with their patrons. Munching on this uncanny appetizer will remind even the coolest hipster to call his Grandma in the morning and tell her he loves her.
Jolly’s career trajectory has been eye-opening: he went from line cook to an employer overnight. Having a personal stake in their business has made working in the food industry more meaningful for the co-owners. “You have to be a special type of twisted weirdo to be a line cook. My goal is to never stop learning,” Jolly said. “Everyone in this field can learn from each other - it doesn’t matter where you went to school or what your specialty is.” With a huge kitchen to work from, new menu items will appear alongside original favorites.
Jolly is excited to finally have space to expand on his drive to cook as much as possible from scratch. His sweet potato nachos offer a honeyed take on the old standard, with sweet potato chips that are made to order. Shrimp corn dogs are fried in a batter that’s dotted with jalapenos and served with a spicy mayo dipping sauce. Their dishes are simple, yet tweaked to just the right degree, which adds interest in texture and flavor.
The variety of tacos offered make for a safe bet for any customer mood or preference. Choose the smoky chicken, the fried fish topped with pickle slaw and chili aioli, or the mushroom taco with feta if you’re a veg head. Carnivores mustn’t pass up the opportunity to try the Korean beef tacos. Once a daily special, the Korean beef tacos have earned a full-time spot as a menu standout. Savory and tender, the beef is marinated just so. Its succulent texture makes a perfect pair with the crunchy, raw veggie toppings. The balsamic drizzle is the cherry on top of this yummy delight - wrapped up in a soft and warm little tortilla - as if it was wearing a winter coat.
With a new location, atmosphere, and some tweaks in the concept, Dyer seems almost surprised at how well their first years as restaurateurs has unfolded. “Consider all the horror stories you hear, our first year has gone really well,” Dyer said. “We get a lot of support from the community and we are grateful for that.” Although going through a metamorphosis, Sip will still be recognizable to its clientele. “We like to think of this as a social atmosphere and that will definitely be carried over into our new space,” explained Dyer. At Sip, it’s always been about more than good eats. “Food is a great reason to bring people together,” Jolly said. “All of my best memories are around food and friends. Bringing that to others is a cool feeling.”