Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cyber Cafe West

Name: Cyber Cafe West
Location: 176 Main Street, Binghamton, NY 13905
Phone: (607) 723-2456
Cuisine: Wraps/sandwiches/salads
Attire: Casual
Price: $20 for two

Cyber Cafe West is another place, like Tapatios, that I've been to a hundred times or more. They have Team Trivia on Monday nights, hosted by the inimitable Jeff Kahn, who also happens to own the place. We used to attend the trivia rather regularly (just about every week for a couple years) but these days we don't attend quite as much. There are tons of things to like about the Cyber. It has a unique atmosphere, to say the least, and appeals to a diverse clientele--dyed-in-the-wool hippies and young professionals alike. They've got live music 5 nights a week and try to bring in a wide variety of under-the-radar musicians. They have a game room in the back where people can often be seen playing chess, reading, or just hanging out. They probably have the best overall beer selection in the entire Southern Tier, with a great selection of microbrews and bottles. Their desserts are pretty outstanding, with a good, varied, rotating selection of pies, cakes, and cookies. The problem with Cyber is the rest of the food they make. It's simply not very good.

The cafe has an interesting layout. Upon entering, you can place an order off to the right, where the bar and "kitchen" are located. There's a room with tables to the left, and many more tables in the room beyond the kitchen, where the stage is located. You'll notice all sorts of hippie-ish artwork all over the place, including the tables. The tables are somewhat rickety and in fact the entire place kind of seems like it could crumble to the ground at any time. But the shambolic nature is kind of part of its charm, oddly enough.

Let's talk about the beer selection. Excellent indeed. Where else are you going to find Ommegang's Chocolate Indulgence, Dogfish Head's Midas Touch, and Great Divide's Titan IPA (to name a few) on tap in the Southern Tier? You aren't. An added bonus is that you can order either pints or pitchers. A big thumbs-up for a wide selection of about 25 different taps, nearly all of which don't suck, and they're all reasonably priced, unlike the wallet-gouging Ale House out on the Parkway. They also have a reasonable selection of wine. Megan also likes some of the other drinks they make, like the strawberry lemonade. So far, so good.

The food menu offers a wide array of wraps and sandwiches. A good number of these items are either vegetarian or vegan and the place is definitely popular among that demographic. I have gotten many different items on the menu over the years and there are a few things on there that I consider decent. The El Ciber wrap consists of vegetarian chili, jasmine rice, jalapenos, sour cream, and cheese. Served with tortilla chips with a couple wedges of gouda cheese, the El Ciber is pretty good for what it is. Sometimes a little heavy on the sour cream, but you can of course have it made it to order. The Texas Pig-in-a-Blanket is another wrap I've often ordered. Pulled pork barbecue with tomatoes and mozzarella. I've had much better pulled pork, and I usually get this without the tomatoes since I don't understand what they're doing there to begin with. But all told, it's edible. Whatever you do, don't order anything that has chicken in it, which unfortunately comprises pretty much the remainder of their non-vegetarian menu. The chicken has a very off-putting taste most of the time. It's pretty disgusting, in fact. So that knocks the Cyber down a few pegs in my book right there.

For desserts, they've got a very nice selection of coffee drinks (organic fair-trade beans only, thankyouverymuch) and the aforementioned pies/cakes/cookies. They sometimes have a chocolate peanut butter pie that I really like, and the giant chocolate chip cookies are pretty tasty. Thumbs up on the desserts.

Cyber Cafe West is tough for me to assign a grade to. The place has a really unique, comfortable atmosphere that I really like. The beverage selection is nonpareil, and the desserts are really good and are reason enough to stop by. I truly wish I had better things to say about the rest of the menu, but I really don't care for most of it. Don't let that stop you from heading to Cyber for a relaxing night on the town...just think about eating before you go.

Grade: B-

Cyber Cafe West on Urbanspoon


  1. I couldn't agree more about the eating before you go. Cyber West has the honor of being the only place from which I ever got food poisoning. The atmosphere is really great, but the quality of staff and food is minimal. If one didn't know better they would think that Jeff gets money from some kind of work-release program from a dirty hippie compound for most of his staff. The place is in desperate need of a long cleaning. The men's bathroom looks better suited to war-torn Poland than Binghamton. As the line too often reflects, service is slow.
    If you want to see live music and drink could beer go to cyber west. Avoid the food... your innards will thank you.

  2. Do try to bear in mind, gentle readers, that Gunning is a grizzled veteran of banged up toilets, and generally an all around curmudgeon. With that in mind, it is vital to bear in mind that the maintenance of the property is problematic if only because he had to recently renovate a significant portion of the kitchen (and, consequently, move the womens' bathroom) in order to bring the building up to the rather absurd fire-code.

    I respectfully disagree with the quality of the food, that is unless you get one of the newer people on wrap-detail. Then again, I've only truly indulged myself with the Texas pig in a blanket or the Rabbi's Nightmare, both of the pulled-pork variety. They are certainly more than edible, and definitely are part of my suicide-prevention arsenal.

    However, you are spot on with the chicken issue, I genuinely don't know what they do with it, but it seems to have a chemically aftertaste.

    As for the staff, I have had no issues with them, except for the soul-crushing-failure as a result of hitting on one of them.

  3. Also, do try to ignore the first paragraph where I said "bear in mind" sixteen times.


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