Saturday, December 29, 2012

Phuket Thai Cuisine

We were in Webster, and though it was not even 4 pm, all of our days already felt long.  As they say, "The weather outside was frightful," and I hadn't had a chance to eat lunch.  We were cold, hungry, needed a break--and were in Webster, a place we almost never go.  So, if it weren't for today's convergence of events (including the fact that the first restaurant we picked was closed), we might never have eaten at Phuket Thai Cuisine--and that would have been a shame.

Given the early hour, we weren't at all surprised that we were the only diners at Phuket.  Walking in, we had no real preconceived notions, as we chose it simply by driving by.  Outside, Phuket looked to us like a remodeled house, but inside, it is warm and inviting with an upscale, urban look: glossy wood floors, golden walls, sophisticated Asian wall art, table linens and full place settings.  We picked a table by the window to watch the snow fall, and my son quickly noticed that the TV in the bar was showing, of all things, The Dark Knight Rises. Voila, he was in love with the place!  (Note to any restaurant we frequent: that's half the battle right there.)

We quickly ordered appetizers:  steak and chicken satay, and corn cakes.  The table uniformly preferred the chicken to the steak (which tasted a bit buttery), and everyone--including the children to their surprise--loved the crispy corn cakes.  They came with a delicious sweet, vinegary dipping sauce that had a little kick of heat to it and added the perfect tang to the corn.  Things were looking up!

My daughter and I both ordered soup starters.  I got my favorite, Tom Yum, with veggies.  She tried something new, Geow Nam.  Mine was delicious--brightly flavored broth with a biting heat that floated perfectly on top of the lemongrass.  It was filled with huge chunks of vegetables and tofu.  Hers had a lightly flavored broth filled with massive pork dumplings and lots of crunchy veggies.  Seriously, it had an appetizer's worth of dumplings in it!  Both soups served to warm the whole table as they were big enough to share--and both were obviously freshly made.  Extra points again.

We ordered three entrees for the four of us:  Pad Phu Kha-Na with Chicken (but with soy-based sauce rather than oyster-sauce--an easily received substitution), Curry Angel Hair Noodle with Pork, and Gang Masamam Curry with Chicken.  My son LOVED the Pad Phu--scooping out all the chicken and about half the broccoli.  The soy-based sauce was light and flavorful, adding to the taste of the perfectly steamed al dente veggies but not overpowering them.  I ate the remainder of the broccoli and all the mushrooms, and my husband took on the lovely carrots--each of which was cut in a beautiful sunburst and cooked just right.  My daughter and I fell in love with the Curry Angel Hair.  The thin noodles were bursting with yellow curry goodness--sweet, warming heat balanced with green onion shoots and crispy bean shoots, mellowed red peppers, and the sunburst carrots.  And, the pork in this dish was delicious, too!  This was the kind of curry that stains your plate and your lips a glorious golden and is the ideal meal on a snowy night.  Yum!!  I have to confess that at this point in the holiday season, I'm potatoes-out, so I ate only a bit of the Masamam chicken.  The sauce was a bright, tamarind-scented red curry, and the chicken moist and tender.  The potatoes were cutely scored so they looked like little loaves of bread floating in the red sea, and my husband loved it.

I would not have thought to find a great Thai restaurant in Webster and couldn't have been happier to stumble upon it today.  I'm not from Thailand (I know, big reveal), but my guess is that Phuket's menu runs closer to authentic Thai than the dishes at most places: a deep palate of hot, tangy, sweet, bright flavors, lots of great fresh veggies, and just enough protein.  No spice overwhelmed a dish no sauce made you feel like a weighted-down food zombie.  Lovely balance from interior to dish.  Yay, Phuket!!

Friday, December 21, 2012


Twas the Friday before Christmas, and all through the house, we were HUNGRY!  Where to go? We decided to head toward Penfield, which we really rarely do, to go to Itacate.  I first read about the owners of Itacate in an article earlier this year about their Mexican restaurant in the back of a gas station in Chili.  Always meant to get there but never did.  Then, I heard they opened a second place in Penfield; this one had an actual dining room.  We were cold, wet, tired from oh so much life this week, so off we went.

When we arrived, well after 6 pm, there were only 2 other cars in the lot--not a good sign.  But, there is that saying about judging books by their covers, isn't there? So, we pushed on.

Turns out we were the first diners that night.  And, then within 15 minutes of our sitting down, the whole place was full!  Must have been us :)

We started with chips, salsas and guacamole.  Big raves for the guac from the family (I am not a fan of avocados).  In fact, we got 3 refills!  The chips were light, crisp and salty.  Red salsa and green salsa were both good and not overly spicy/hot; they are thin, though--be warned.  We also asked for and got the homemade roasted habanero sauce, which did bring the heat!

It was a rainy/sleety/snowy night, so soups all around as starters.  My daughter got the Arroz Con Pollo, which she proclaimed as delicious!  My husband got the Sopa de Tortilla, with lots of queso fresco and avocado and more raves!  But, I think my soup won.  I defaulted to the last soup left unordered on the menu: Frijoles Charros.  Rich, smoky beans in a deeply flavored, thick broth that combined a good heat with bacony awesomeness.  I would eat this by the bucketful.  So very yummy!!

For entrees, my daughter ordered a chicken taco, which she didn't like and my husband did.  She, instead, snacked on some of my plentiful Carnitas de Puerco.  The pork in this dish was mildly seasoned and wonderfully crisped in places.  I skipped the tortillas and just ate the pork topped with some green salsa and limed onions and ate it with the chips and some beans.  My son devoured his chicken burrito in about 4 minutes flat, and then also ate some carnitas.  My husband and I swapped dishes--initially accidentally and then on purpose.  So, he took my Asado de Puerco.  The pork in this dish was shredded, not chunked, and served in a richly flavored red sauce with a nice sized portion of rice and beans.  Safe to say, nothing, not-a-thing, was left on our table.  Not a drop of salsa, not a crumb of a chip.

Plus, the service was fantastic: friendly, welcoming, funny, generous.  And, the chef came out and chatted with everyone in the room for a while.  Love it!

Look out 2013 ... we've found our favorite Mexican place, and it's only about 10 minutes from the house!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fruit & Salad Company

We've driven past the Fruit & Salad Company in Bushnell's Basin dozens of times--because let's be honest, if you're in the Basin and you're hungry, it's hard to come up with a reason not to go to Tom Wahl's!  But, in the spirit of eating healthily after basketball, we passed up TW this once to try something new, and we were happy we did!

Fruit & Salad looks like a Pottery Barn inside and out.  Very Pittsford!  And, even on a grey Saturday afternoon, it was hopping.  We were surprised to see that the menu took up a full wall--everything from soups and salads to burgers and paninis.

My son, clearly not understanding that we didn't go to TW, ordered a bacon cheeseburger, but he did get a side salad instead of fries (Victory!).  My daughter stuck with her go-to, a chicken caesar wrap, and another on her hit list, chicken and rice soup.  Then, her eyes widened.  F&S carries Cheesy Eddies cakes, including her favorite, Carrot Cake.  Well, carrots are vegetables.

My husband ordered a salad and sandwich combo, Monterey Chop Salad and Harvest Turkey Sandwich (no mayo).  I got a salad and soup combo, regular Chop Salad and Cream of Chicken Soup.

The entire meal was a hit, with lots of cross plate eating.  While it was not inexpensive,  we certainly got our money's worth.  The half salads were massive and filled with chicken, veggies, croutons, and a lovely light balsamic vinaigrette.  The kids' burger was full-size with a hefty side salad (and a plentiful side of pickles, yum!).  The "cups" of soup were bowls, both delicious and large enough to share.

We'll definitely work F&S into our regular Saturday, post-basketball rotation.  Eating a yummy, vegged up salad periodically will help balance off those delicious TW Buffalo Chicken sandwiches, and the calming blue and white Cape Cod cottage interior of F&S is a lovely counterpoint to TW's Happy Days aesthetic.  Why, I think we've discovered the yin and yang of Bushnell's Basin!

New Cantonese

I had gone to New Cantonese for lunch once, so when we had more than the usual time on one of the kids' dance nights, I suggested we go for dinner.  It was right on the way, and service over lunch had been speedy.

When we arrived, we were the first dinner customers, so the server took a special interest in us.  She invited the kids to pick their own exotic Chinese juices out of the fridge, suggesting ones her own son liked, which turned out to be big hits with his American counterparts.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you can guess what we ordered:  fried pork dumplings and chicken soup with rice for appetizers; General Tso's chicken, pork fried rice for dinner.  We went for something new, though, too: Chicken Lo Mein.

The dumplings were delicious:  nicely round and meat, well browned from frying but not at all greasy.  Yum!  And, the soup hit the spot for my daughter, who kindly shared it with her brother.  Light broth with lots of plump rice.

And, we noticed that the restaurant was starting to fill up a bit, but we were the only non-Chinese customers.  We took it as a good sign.

We were right.  The General Tso's chicken was crispy with a sauce with a nice kick of smoky heat.  My son loved it.  My daughter's lo mein was outstanding--the noodles were firm and the sauce was grounded in garlic and soy.  Delicious!  (She was so taken with it, she's ordered it other places, only to be disappointed.)  And, I ate the lion's share of the fried rice, which was plentiful and yummy--with lots of roast pork and veggies.

Part way through the meal, my husband came by, drawn by the descriptions of the food I texted him.  He finished off all that was left and was similarly impressed!

New Cantonese has the atmosphere of a bare bones, strip mall Chinese restaurant, but all that is unimportant compared to the great service and food.  Look past the cafeteria tables and handwritten, cardboard "restroom"sign, you'll be delighted!

Han Noodle Bar

Han Noodle Bar advertises itself with the slogan, "No fusion. No gimmick."  It's a small restaurant located in a repurposed house, with a no-frills white interior and--on the night we stopped in--just one overworked server.  Almost all of the tables were filled though and most folks seemed to be regulars.

While it was listed as an entree, we started with the Asian Eggplant (a big fav in our family).  There was plenty to share, in a thick, deep, smoky sauce, and it all disappeared.

While it may not have any gimmicks, Han does have a child's menu.  The kids ordered Noodle and Dumpling and Fried Chicken with Sesame Sauce.  Since she always ordered dumplings, my daughter was a bit surprised to find that this meal's were a bit more like steamed buns, and the noodles were quite thick.  She was not a fan. Nor did my son enjoy his.  But both of them really liked what I had ordered--which came in a large enough portion to share.

That was the Chicken and Broccoli with Fried Rice.  It was well prepared, with bright green nicely firm broccoli, and chicken that came in strands that the kids called "worms."  I requested brown sauce, and it was flavorful without be overwhelming.  The fried rice was okay.  I'd probably go with steamed rice in the future.

My husband ordered a special drink, coconut milk, which was literally "coconut milk" in a coconut.  He was not impressed with the flavor, but the presentation was cool.  He ordered the Five Spice Beef Shank Noodles--and quickly learned he does not like five spice.  Also, the beef was not really warm.  But he soldiered on ... and ate the kids' meals, which he enjoyed.

Overall, we would chalk this one up to a dining experiment--one that was incredibly affordable because of Han's low prices.  I guess we like gimmicks.  Lesson learned.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jeremiah's Tavern

This will be a short.  One goes to Jeremiah's Tavern for wings.  Period.  So we did.  I'll say up front that we were surprised at how small the wings were.  The ones I make at home from plain ol' wings from Wegman's are bigger.  But, they were flavorful.  We got mild & safe, medium, BBQ, garlic parm and Bee Sting.  All were good.  I'd say that, maybe because Jeremiah's has so many levels of heat, their wings are milder overall, so like a shoe that runs a bit small, you can go a size up.

Here was the big surprise at Jeremiah's: the tatter tots (their spelling).  I know, tatter tots? But, seriously, they are so, so good.  Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, with just the right amount of seasoning that clearly includes some kind of schedule 1 controlled substance since it's so addictive.

Overall, everyone needs to go to Jeremiah's.  Do they have the best wings in Rochester?  We'd say no, but they do have the best tatter tots on Planet Earth.  So, it's a fair trade!

India House

I have written previously of our love of Indian food--and of Rochester's surprisingly deep array of Indian restaurants.  One we had not tried was India House, in part because it suffers from the dreaded "on street parking syndrome" that is kryptonite to those of us with PTPPD (post-traumatic parallel parking disorder).  Yet, we pushed on to get there because we had heard many good things.

So, we were surprised to find ourselves the sole diners one weeknight.  There's nothing that instills confidence in what is to come more than an empty restaurant.  But, we had already parked the car (on the street), so there was no turning back--which was a good thing.

I can start this at the end, with my daughter repeatedly asking if we can eat there again.  For a girl who could probably live her whole life eating an alternating cycle of grilled steak, penne with olive oil and garlic, and mac and cheese, she has a surprisingly forceful love of Indian food.

We ordered our usual appetizers: Chicken Pakora, Garlic Naan, Samosas.  All delicious.  There was less chickpea batter on the pakora than I've seen at other local Indian places, so if that's your thing, be prepared; but, having said that, the chicken was moist and yummy.  I had had a headache inducing day, so soup seemed appealing as well.  I ordered the Ginger Cauliflower; it was just as described on the menu: silky and delicious plus comforting!

Around the table, our entrees were our standards as well: daughter/Chicken Tikka; son/Tandoori Chicken; me/Bharta.  My husband threw in the curve ball: Pepper Chicken. Add in more naan and some raita, and we were good to go.

She described the Chicken Tikka as having the "best sauce ever"!  And, it was good, with a sweetness that sat nicely on top of a mild heat.  The Tandoori was plentiful, and he like it--but I'd say it was a bit overcooked.  My Bharta was wonderful, rich and deeply flavored with a building heat perfectly cooled by the raita.  I also mixed in a bit of the Tikka sauce, which made it even better.  My husband liked his Pepper Chicken, but seemed to like the Tikka sauce more and spooned it over his, too.  (Subliminal message--order the Tikka!)

India House is a Rochester staple--with outposts in Victor and a new smaller one in the old Mamasan's Noodle Shop on Mount Hope in addition to the Clinton Ave original.  And, it's stuck around for a reason.  And, yes, dear daughter, we will go back!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


My travel schedule has been a bit loopy, so it seems fitting that my husband and I arranged our only date night in months while I was in Philadelphia and he was running the kids around town to their multiple lessons.  Pending an on time flight arrival, I suggested we try a new Rochester hot spot, TRATA (aka The Restaurant At The Armory) and see The Master.

While my flight did land on time, we had questions about whether we'd find a parking space at the Armory.  It was clear TRATA was hopping.  After a couple miscues about our seating, we had a table we were happy with and were ready to assume the personae of daters-about-town.  And, from this perspective, TRATA had it going on:  three architecturally striking floors that evoke a very artsy barn, a massive center bar surrounded by seating and dining catwalks and balconies, varied sculptural lighting, a unisex bathroom, a welcoming rooftop bar, and lots of earphone-equipped staff.

Right up front, I need to share one thing we did not anticipate about TRATA--for non-drinkers, it is crazy reasonable in terms of prices!  My one table trick is that I can typically guess a dinner bill within $2-3 dollars, but because I was tired from two full days of meetings during which I was also trying somehow to manage several late breaking events back home, I hadn't even bothered to scan TRATA's menu for prices.  So, I overbid our bill by about $25!

Here's what we got: 2 small plates, a salad, an entree, and a dessert.  The term "small plates" is misleading--these are serious portions, easily shared among 2-4.  Can I go a week without some wings? No! So, we ordered the wings, which were from chickens on mega-steroids and were full wings, not wingettes.  These were tender and moist with a mild sauce.  To balance the wings, we got the lettuce wraps.  The chicken stir fry had a yummy sauce on the side and was served with two lettuce wedges that you broke up to make the wraps.  Messy to be sure but also delicious!

I had heard about the fried chicken from a colleague, so we split that entree, which was a wise move.  After the "small" appetizers, two entrees would have been too much.  Instead, I ordered the house salad, which was also quite large; in addition, it was crisp and cool with a clean and slightly acidic vinaigrette.  At this point, an attentive reader would guess that I might say the fried chicken portion was generous; she'd be right.  It was also moist inside with a softer fry rather than a crunchy fry finish.  The potatoes were dense with a flour-based gravy--all topped with a fluffy biscuit.  Perfect to split.

We finished with the rootbeer float.  My husband took the float, I took the cookie, and we were both happy!

I've heard mixed things from others about TRATA.  We loved it!  The service was great, the food was yummy, the prices were more than reasonable, and the space is really cool.  Go!

The Wokery

No, we did not stop eating or eating out.  But, now that it's once again freezing outside and I have to spend about two hours each Saturday sitting against the wall on the hardwoods watching both my kids play Y basketball ... I once again have time to update the world on our dining adventures.  And, I shall begin with last night at the Wokery.

We ate at the Wokery for a pragmatic reason--it was near the IMAX theatre where we were headed to see Frankenweenie and folks seemed to like it on Urban Spoon and Yelp.  Apparently it has been around forever, but as we approached, things were not promising: the Wokery occupies a spot in a nearly empty strip mall right next to the Pioneer Bingo Hall.  However, as soon as we opened the door, our spirits lifted, and we knew awesomeness awaited!

The decor of the Wokery is straight out of the late 70s, and the menus with taped up black covers had a print date of 1983.  When our super friendly waiter took our order, he opened with "talk to me" and tempted my children with "kiddie cocktails."  (My daughter loved hers so much, she stood at the table finishing it as the rest of us walked out the door.  She's requested we make them at home.)  We sat next to the official "Wokery," a glass walled room in the corner with a pass through window to the kitchen: ingredients are passed through in aluminum tins, cooked in gigantic flaming woks by a single chef, who took time to wave at the kids as they stood at the windows watching him cook their meals.

We started with a Chinese restaurant staple for my family: pork fried dumplings.  They were firm and crisp with lots of pork filling and a nice soy/ginger sauce.  As my daughter exclaimed, "they are so good!" She also got the chicken soup with rice, which she proclaimed as "fine."  My husband and I split a Tom Kha Gai soup, which was a bit too sweet and not very spicy.

The Wokery has a kids' menu.  My son ordered the sweet and sour chicken and my daughter the pork low mein off that menu.  He liked the chicken but not the sauce; she liked his more than hers.  She also really liked the pork fried rice we ordered for the table (another family staple).

My husband ordered the garlic chicken.  It had a nicely spiced red sauce with firm yet tender broccoli.  I ordered pork with vegetables: large slices of roast pork, mushrooms, broccoli, corn, onion, and more in a lightly seasoned sauce.

Was it the best Chinese food we've had in Rochester? No.  Would we go back next time we went to the IMAX theatre? You bet. The service was wonderful; the ambience, perfectly funky; the wok room, on fire; the kiddie cocktails, addictive!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Tonight, we stopped by DogTown on the way home from a fundraiser for an amazing local dance company, at which we ate almost nothing.  Why?

Well, we got there late to begin with and then went to the wrong building.  So, we stood in a line for about 15 minutes trying to figure out why we needed to sign in to a fundraiser ... and why we didn't recognize anyone.  Then, I stepped slightly out of line and noticed a sign, "Celebrating the union of Pam and Jim" (not their real names).  I looked at my husband and whispered, "We're going."  "We're bailing because we have to stand in a line?" he responded confusedly. "Just walk!" I yell/whispered.  Outside, I pointed at a second building, and all became clear.  Anyway ... when we finally got to the right place, the speaking portion of the program was in full effect, and noisily grabbing plates to pile with food to then gobble down while pretending to listen seemed a bit rude.  So, we just actually listened.  Then, we chatted with lots of people we did recognize.  Then, the eating window of the program suddenly slammed shut.  Ah, well. About three hours later, nothing sounded better than a hot dog!

DogTown has a college-town, hipster vibe, with lots of pictures of customers' dogs on the wall, lots of tattoos, multicolored hair, and hats on the staff, and lots of dogs named after dogs.  While there, I heard one young man say to his friend incredulously, "You have ketchup in your house!?" much as I might say, "You have a pony in your bathroom!?"  A group of young men at another table were pooling their change to buy a beer.  Ah, college life.

I ordered a Cincinnati Red Dogs with fries; it came with a giant pickle, too, and was served on a French roll.  The dog was yummy, just what I needed.  Nicely grilled with a mild chili sauce paired with crispy fries.  My husband ordered the cheddar ale soup (he's not a big night eater anymore, that fell away in college; not for me!).  It was tasty, though thin, with homemade toasted croutons on top.  Nicely warming.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Amaya Bar and Grill

Tonight, it was just three of us; my son was at a friend's house.  So, we decided on Indian.  I remembered a review a while back of Amaya Bar and Grill, and off we went.

My daughter and I arrived first.  Amaya is in a Tops anchored strip mall, which I'll is not a promising sign.  If you're not from ROC, Topp's is our Winn-Dixie.  Enough said.  So, it was a delightful surprise to walk into a sophisticated restaurant with a design reminiscent of West Elm.  We ordered sodas and two appetizers straight off: garlic naan (bread of life!!) and sesame tandoori wings.  It was clear from a look at the restaurant and the menu that Amaya was more an Indian fusion restaurant, but as more folks filtered in, it was clear we may be onto something.

My husband arrived a bit later, just as the wings and naan hit the table.  We ordered:  soup of the day (curried butternut squash), hyderabadi baingan (eggplant in poppyseed sauce) for him; chicken tikka paprikash for me; chicken makhani for her; raita and more naan!

The soup seemed thin but was very tasty.  He thickened it up with some of the delicious rice that accompanied our meals:  yellow, perfectly cooked and aromatic.  The dinners were served in off-center white bowls surrounded by plates of this rice (which was refilled liberally upon request, as was the raita).

My husband and I shared our dishes.  The eggplant was cooked with some unadvertised chiles, which added a deep heat to the rich, brown, rustic sauce.  It gained an earthy hue from the poppyseeds and the roasted baby eggplants, which had turned almost nutty in flavor.  So good!  The paprikash sauce was bright and tomato-y with a similar deep heat but one balanced by a wonderful acidity from the tomatoes and a layered taste from the roasted peppers.  The sauce was thin, like a soup, which made it easy to finish the chicken and then pour more rice into the bowl to eat the soup/sauce.  I topped it all with the cool raita, which had a hint of anise and chunks of tomatoes and cucumbers.

My daughter's makhani was aromatic, sweet and rich.  She loved it and the rice (this is a girl who could live on yellow rice, whether Indian or Goya).  She left just the sauce and one piece of chicken for us to try.  Her sauce became another rice-filled soup!  Pure comfort in a bowl.

Somehow, without planning, we had selected three dishes that perfectly balanced the table: deep and nutty, bright and acidic, aromatic and creamy.

We tried the chocolate samosas for dessert; they sounded better than they tasted.  Not bad, just nothing special.

Amaya's portions are not huge; we finished each dish and brought home only rice (which holds it own!).  Our service was wonderful--friendly, responsive, not intrusive.  Refills appeared without request and a lovely brown glass bottle of cold water materialized just when we needed it.  I'd recommend Amaya as an alternative to the standard Indian--sophisticated and delicious without losing any of the classic taste profile.  Yum!


I'll start this entry by saying that we almost never go out for dinner without the kids unless it's a work-related event (i.e., lots of convention center chicken).  So, when some friends proposed getting together for dinner, I was stumped about where to go.  Luckily, one pair of the three has no children, works crazy-mad hours, and eats out all the time.  They suggested Nikko--a place so hip that I had to sit at the intersection reading and re-reading my GPS to figure out how to get to the one way side street it was on.

According to our dining companions, on weekends, Nikko's SoHo-worthy bar is packed with almost a hundred people, which is saying something because it is very small, maybe 15 tables.  The weeknight we went, only about five of the tables (including ours) were full.  Plus, one of our party seemed to know half the waitstaff.  So, our service was fantastic, and we kind of felt the place was ours.

We started out with appetizers.  I went with the organic field green salad; my husband chose the spring onion bisque.  The salad was wonderfully crisp, with a nicely acidic ramp vinaigrette. A great starter.  His soup was thick, rich and topped with a poached duck egg (that's really what sold him).  It disappeared.  He also sampled the cheese flight ordered by another in our party and raved about the taste combination of cheese and wild honey.

When it came time to order dinner, the problems began.  Everyone wanted something that someone else was ordering.  I agreed to split the chicken "cacciatore" with another diner in return for some of his Nikko burger.  My husband got a special: veal chop.  Both the chicken and the veal were accompanied by the most deliciously creamy farro I've ever had.  It made me love farro!!

The chicken was not the thigh as advertised but a French cut chicken breast with sublimely crisp skin, perfectly moist flesh served with a delicate tomato-based sauce.  I stole a bread plate from an empty nearby table to swap a portion for some of the Nikko burger and crispy/salty/golden picture-ready fries.  Because the burger was slightly overcooked in the eyes of the kitchen, the server offered to take it back, but once it hit the table, it was all over but the shouting.  The burger is the size of a large soup bowl, with rich, creamy cheeses dripping down its sides.  Truly one of the best burgers I've ever eaten, and since everyone at the table was able to have some, I can attest that 6/6 felt that way.

My husband's veal chop was similarly delicious (his verdict): covered in caramelized onions and falling off the bone.  He augmented it with some sushi from another plate, both the 7th Level and T-T Flares.  (It's worth noting that he chose to walk back to his parking garage rather than take a ride because he had partaken of too much scrummy food!)

We were having too much fun to end the meal, so rather than do the sensible thing and declare victory, we ordered three desserts (one free because of the hamburger).  I opted for the lemon sorbet with berries (which no one wanted to share ... it was a chocolate table).  He shared a tray (literally) of three peanut butter ice cream profiteroles topped with chocolate sauce.  They looked like caloric snowmen!  And, the last dessert was a rich, flourless chocolate torte that was almost solid black.

By the end of our 3 hour plus dinner, all plates were empty, all stomachs were full, all faces were smiling, and we were planning our next dining adventure.

Nikko really does ROC, combining hip and inviting, cool and casual, exclusive and friendly, with inventive, tasty dishes.  Yay, Nikko!

Friday, April 13, 2012


There's a scene in The Jerk in which Navin Johnson jumps for joy upon finding his name in the phonebook, shouting, "The new phonebook's here! The new phonebook's here!"  Substitute me for Navin and Yotality for the phonebook and you get the picture.

To explain why a fro-yo place triggers such joy, let me take you way back.  It's the mid 80s in Gainesville.  By day, my B-school study buddies and I lurk on the Plaza of the Americas, lunching on takeout from the original, old school Bageland and hole-in-the-wall Burrito Brothers while trying to make sense of our TI financial calculators.  By night, we swamp Library East, hogging tables on a permanent basis and take study breaks for a new taste sensation: frozen yogurt!  We'd run over to the first fro-yo place in Gainesville: Tropical Treats (which was next to Leo's) and then sneak it back into the Library.

Fast forward about a quarter of a century (OUCH!!! How did that happen?), and I'm now sitting in Shorty's with my husband and kids.  During a lull in the conversation, my eye is captured by a sign in Sanrio-style script across Dixie Hwy; it reads "Yogurtland."  "What could this be?" we all wonder, so we go exploring.  And, like Christopher Columbus, we find a new world full of taste sensations!

It turns out that throughout Miami, yogurt chains have multiplied like, well, yogurt cultures!  They are ALL pink and green, whether Yogurtland or Menchie's or Yuzu or any of the other dozen.  And, they're all delicious!  We somehow find a way to eat fro-yo each day while there and bid them a tearful goodbye when we head by to ROC.  Why, oh why, have we no Yogurtland?!  Isn't bad enough we're Chick-fil-A-less?!  That we have no Pollo Tropical providing all drive-thru customers with the delicious incentive necessary to build the skill set required to eat black beans and rice while driving 80MPH on I-95?!

And, then today, the sun shone upon Pittsford as Yotality opened its shiny white doors into its brightly colored interior: orange, green, blue, purple all aglow in the evening light streaming in the floor to ceiling windows overlooking picturesque Main Street.  Did I mention the spa-like slate stone wall?  The gorgeous wood floor?  The Sirius XM Coffee House soundtrack?  Yay!!!  My son and I went tonight, and it's all we could have hoped for and more!  The bank of yogurt machines with 2 flavors plus a cutely named swirl each :)  The Wegman's-worthy array of toppings:  a full cold bar and another for candies, chocolates, and fruity pebbles (!).

After taste testing his way through the machines, my son (hold the presses and your stomachs) chose chocolate topped with sour gummy worms, sweet gummy bears, Nerds, and Oreos.  (Ah, to be a decade less than a half century younger again!)  I chose the love of my fro-yo life, tart vanilla, and topped it with strawberries, raspberries and kiwi.  Together, we spent less than $4, ate oh-so-good for us (according to Yotality's wall sign) fro-yo, and sat in the window Pittsford-people watching on a spring-like Friday night.

Yotality, you had us at "yo"!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pizza Stop

We are a pizza family!  The kids could eat pizza for breakfast (cold), lunch (maybe warmish?), and dinner every day.  To be honest, I'm not that far behind.  It's just a perfect food--a slice has it all: grain, veggies, calcium, protein, essential oils (okay, A LOT of essential oils).  And, if you've got the time to scooch over to State Street and don't mind parking on the street (urgh!!), you need to eat ROC's best pizza, which comes from the humble looking but ridiculously great Pizza Stop.

You don't go to Pizza Stop for ambience.  If you eat there or wait on your pizza, you'll find an atmosphere akin to that at a DMV.  And, please DO NOT talk on your cell phone while ordering.  In case you're wondering why, refer to the photo of the Soup Nazi that hangs behind the counter and the many warning signs as you walk in.  

But, once you get past all that, what you'll find is simply delicious pizza.  We typically order the Meatball Parm pizza on thin crust, which is not only heart-stopping (potentially literally) good but also truly lovely.  Alternating circles of meatballs and mozzarella cheese rest on top of perfectly balanced pizza sauce--not too sweet, not too acidic, not too garlicky.  And, it all sits on top of a nicely crisped crust that still has just enough meaty doughiness in it.  This is, honestly, one of the best pizzas I've ever eaten!

This past week, in addition to the Meatball Parm, I picked up a Broccoli, Mushroom and Garlic pizza.  I didn't know it at the time I ordered, but it substitutes a base of garlic-rich olive oil for traditional red sauce.  The crust is then liberally covered with mozzarella and heaps of broccoli and mushrooms and more garlic.  My daughter agreed to try "just one bite" and went on to eat three pieces.  It's truly a keeper and a lighter pizza to offset the richness of the Meatball.

The only bad part about Pizza Stop is the drive home.  The pizzas come out piping hot and fill the car with intoxicating aromas within about 30 seconds.  I must have opened the Broccoli, Mushroom and Garlic box about 10 times on the 15 minute drive, each time forcing myself to close it back up again lest I burn my hand and mouth, and then crash the car.  At least I'd have a solid defense ...

"But, your honor, I was driving home from Pizza Stop."

"Case dismissed!"

Friday, April 6, 2012

Next Door Bar and Grill

The kids were in activities til 8, so we decided to grab a grown-up dinner.  While we'll take our kids almost anywhere, Wegman's Next Door Bar and Grill is probably one restaurant I'd skip with them.  The menu is a bit out-there, the surfaces are hard and unforgiving (metal, antlers, highly polished wood), the dining rooms are loud, and the emphasis is really on the bar.  In many ways, it's one of just three ROC restaurants that wouldn't be out of place in Tribeca (I'd say 2Vine and Good Luck are the others).

My husband was running late, so I immediately ordered an appetizer--chicken meatballs--and began researching brisket recipes on Epicurous (Easter dinner).  The meatballs arrived just as he was sitting down (perfect wife timing!) and I was emailing myself the recipe that featured 36 cloves of garlic ("We are a garlic family," my son declared today).  They were well seasoned ground chicken topped with a dollop of nicely acidic and smoky marinara and served over a bed of yummy crisped spinach.

We both ordered soup.  He chose the seasonal Spring Pea Bisque, which was poured tableside over charred ramps, ham, and a lavender churro.  I hate peas (blech!), but he loved it!  I ordered the Miso.  The broth and mushrooms were delicious, but I'd say it had too much tofu.  Big puffy pillows of it; more than I would ever want.

When it came to the entree, we decided to share.  I chose the Grilled Organic Teriyaki Salmon.  It was supposed to be accompanied by bibb lettuce and radicchio salad, red radish, oven dried tomatoes, charred eggplant, lemon caper vinaigrette.  I did not notice the vinaigrette, and the charred eggplant was actually pureed as a base sauce for the salmon (which was perfectly cooked: tender, fork friendly, moist).  I had really wanted un-pureed eggplant and was disappointed. There also seemed to be too much lettuce for the plate, and the radishes just seemed to sit there looking for a purpose.  This dish could be reworked to better set off the ridiculously good salmon without so much fluff--and with real eggplant! (And maybe a roasted Meyer lemon or Blood orange, either of which would be delicious with the salmon.)

My husband ordered three Robata grilled skewers:  Trumpet Mushroom, Steak, and Chicken.  I know, "What is Robata?"  Here's an explanation.  Here's another one:  who cares?  Anything that comes off the Robata is straight up delicious.  The mushrooms were meaty and dense, sauced with a deep teriyaki glaze.  The steak was perfectly done and melt in the mouth smooth; the chicken was moist inside and crisp outside.  All skewers (which come two to an order) include scallions.  Grilling scallions does something magical to them, making them so sweet and smoky and yet still pungently green.  I could each a whole skewer of them.  Yum!!

By trading, we each got the full spectrum of main courses: steak, chicken, fish and veggies.  One of the minor benefits of marriage--that and the ability to share snarky observations about aggressively social salesman next to us while barely saying a word.

The one downside to the meal was that our service fell off a cliff after dinner.  After handing us the dessert menus, our server simply disappeared.  By the time she reappeared, I had already left.  Weird and very un-Wegman's.

Still, Next Door Bar and Grill is a must-do (where else will you see a wall of green apples, a ceiling of antlers, and a non-Amityville Horror red room?).

Dinosaur BBQ

My son's favorite restaurant is Dinosaur BBQ.  Thanks to his activity schedule, he eats there almost weekly after he gets dropped off at the library to wait while his dad finishes work.  As it happens, Dinosaur is right across from the library, so both men of the house have become mega rib-eaters.

I picked up the kids from Y-care early enough to get to the restaurant, get parking, and get a table ... that overlooked the falls.  If you know Dinosaur, you know this is less likely than winning Mega-Millions!  Must have been birthday power.

We started out with fried green tomatoes and some wings, both BBQ and sesame hoisin.  It's hard for me to admit this, but I've never had better fried green tomatoes than I've had in ROC.  Both Dinosaur and it's frenemy Sticky Lips have absolutely wonderfully seasoned, perfectly crisp versions.  They come in orders of three, but our hyperactively personable waiter brought us four :)  I'd call the wings a bit overcooked, but my son was undeterred and left only the bones.  My daughter is the FGT queen and demanded another order ... another four!

The three of them--husband, daughter and birthday boy--decided to split the Sweetheart Deal for Two: a full rack of ribs and four sides.  My kids love their Mac and Cheese ("the best" according to the boy), so their sides were two mac and cheeses, black beans and rice (her), BBQ beans (both) and an extra side of tomato cucumber salad (dad).  Even with all three eating the ribs, we brought home about six!  Over the years, I've lost my taste for ribs, but would say Dinosaur's are quite good.  Moist with a deeply flavored dry rub that forms a great fairly spicy crust over the smokiness of the rib meat.  The meal also comes with Dinosaur's cornbread, which is sweet and moist with a nice top crust and a good flake to it.

I love BBQ chicken!  I ordered mine with mashed potatoes and gravy and fresh salad greens with bar-b-blues dressing.  These are my two favorite Dinosaur sides.  Their gravy is rich, flavorful, and delicious, and as the menu states, the mashed potatoes are "real."  Yum!!  The secret to the salad is the dressing, a unique concoction of bleu cheese mixed with BBQ sauce--spicy yet creamy.  I cover my chicken with the Dinosaur Slathering Sauce.  I have to share that I prefer Sticky Lips chicken.  It's typically moister and more flavorful, but then again, it wasn't my birthday.

My son got his dessert for free as his birthday gift from our waiter :)  He selected Chocolate Ice Box pie, a chilled and rich chocolate pudding pie in an oreo crust.  Definitely worth a glass of milk!  It disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle formed by my three before even hitting the table.  I ordered the Key Lime Pie.  Dinosaur has an absolutely note perfect version (it's the recipe I use at home!), hitting the delicate balance necessary between tart and sweet.  Somehow, half of this pie made it into someone else's stomach (glancing in my husband's direction).

Our service was top flight, too.  Plates cleared, glasses refilled, cute banter with the kids.  Yay!

While it actually started in Syracuse, Dinosaur is truly a ROC landmark.  So, hop on your hog and head downtown for a great view and even greater food.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Osteria Rocco

We went to Osteria Rocco, better known as just Rocco, for the first time this week for my husband's birthday--both zipping in from other ends of the city to try to catch dinner before heading to the movies.  Which is why I'll begin with a complaint:  I hate places that don't offer parking.  If we lived in NYC or Chicago, I'd get it.  But, ROC might as well be LA given how car-dependent this city is.  Seriously.  So, I had to park about 3 blocks away, and he parked in the "illegal" lot next door in order to make the reservation, and then moved his car after ordering.  Not fun.

Getting that out of the way, it turned out that coming directly from work left us a bit overdressed for Rocco.  Other diners were in t-shirts and jeans and the waitstaff sported many tattoos and very casual clothes (tank tops, gauze skirts, army shorts).  As a result, the restaurant has a hipster vibe, but it doesn't seem able to realize it completely (e.g., the ceiling is tin, but the floor is carpeted rather than retro-tiled).  The dining room is quite small, with close set tables and little room for servers to move without bumping diners.  And, because there's really no place for them to retreat to, servers almost appear to "stand guard" along the back wall when they're not in motion.  The next set of diners sort of lurks in the dining room doorway, too, which sends a message that doesn't really suggest you should linger.

We started with the fried risotto fritters with tomato sauce.  They were delicious!  About the size of large meatballs, they offered a crispy crust and tender risotto insides nestled in a tangy tomato sauce.  We moved on to a shared salad: endive (fresh and cut in rings), apples (too few), walnuts, gorgonzola  and cider vinegar (really sharp and acidic).  The salad was huge, perfectly sized to share.  My one critique is that the dressing would have been perfect had there been more apples--the acidity would have balanced the sweet.  But, without more apples or maybe some sugaring or salt crust on the walnuts, the balance was off.

We each ordered a special.  My husband ordered lamb sausage over greens and beans.  The sausage was homemade; it was rather rustic in texture and fairly peppery.  He enjoyed the whole dish.  I ordered skewers of mushrooms and chicken over a bed of baby spinach and raisins in a balsamic vinaigrette, served with fried polenta.  The mushrooms and chicken were fine but lacked much seasoning.  The polenta was plentiful and had a great crust to it while being moist and soft inside.  The raisins did very well in the dressing, which was--again--a bit too vinegary for my taste and overwhelmed the baby spinach.

Overall, I think we both expected to like Rocco better than we did.  On paper, it seems like the exact kind of place we have loved in other cities.  I'd be willing to go back and try a pasta dish and give it a second chance, and my husband liked his sausage so he's in for another go, too.

PS: Good news ... we both liked the movie!

Plum Garden

You go to Plum Garden because it's a hibachi restaurant.  You go to celebrate special occasions.  You go to watch personable yet somewhat frightening chefs throw and clank their knives; make fiery onion volcanos and flaming shrimp rockets; and throw tiny little balls of rice that you catch in your mouth to great applause (unless you're me, in which case you catch them with your face, hair, glasses, sweater, or floor to multiple sighs).  That's what you're paying for, and you expect the food to be passable.  But, I'm happy to report that at Plum Garden, most of it is actually quite tasty.

My kids LOVE Plum Garden.  They would go every week if they could.  They love the spectacle.  It makes them scream with laughter, awe, and delight.  And, they love the food.  They eat heaping bowls of fried rice, plates full of chicken and sukiyaki steak, and even a few veggies.  Change that last line to "a lot" of veggies, and we're right there with them.

Each meal at Plum Garden starts with some non-standard "Japanese" pre-courses:  an iceberg salad with ginger dressing and a miso onion soup.  The former is not especially tasty, but the latter is decent enough, with some mushrooms thrown in.  From this starter course, a theme at Plum Garden emerges:  you get a lot of food.  The salad is bigger than you might expect as is the soup.  You're paying for the show, but you'll leave with leftovers.

We all have set orders now.  My children order off the less expensive kids' menu which offers slightly smaller portions and comes with just one starter but adds in vanilla ice cream or rainbow sherbet (yep, it's still around!) for dessert.  My son goes for the chicken; my daughter, the sukiyaki steak (thinner cut).

My husband goes for a combo: steak and chicken.  I'm a sukiyaki steak-only girl:  it's not just cheaper, I think the thinner cut works better on the grill, turning out tender and flavorful.

All meals come with about 9 pounds of highly addictive fried rice made in a magnificent show involving disappearing eggs, gravity defying yolks, and spinning shells.  The result is sprinkled with sesame seeds and can be eaten for weeks if you can stop yourself at the table.  Seriously, I don't know what they put in this, but it is clearly some controlled substance--go ahead, try to put down your chopsticks.  Each meal also comes with mounds of veggies, two sauces (dark ginger and hot mustard), some shrimp, and the infamous onion volcano.  

It all adds up to great kitschy food theatre that, like the rainbow sherbet, seems to have come from a simpler era.  See you at the hibachi :)

Tony D's

I finished up a meeting downtown around dinner time, and the kids were at dance classes, so I swung around and picked up my husband for a quick dinner before he headed back to work.  (Sidebar: we both work too much--big surprise.)

We decided to go to Tony D's.  He had never been.  I'd been several times for lunch meetings and had liked it.  I still think it's a great lunch place--especially for a great pizza with slices left for late work night snacking.  Maybe not so much for dinner.  It's not that it was bad--because it wasn't.  I would call Tony D's a good fall-back restaurant: a place where everyone could find something but no one would go home raving about a dish they'll never forget.  Judging from the crazy crowd at the bar, I'm also guessing the folks who come in the evenings are largely more social networkers than foodies.

We started with wings, which are not your typical buffalo wings.  They're oven roasted and topped with delicious caramelized onions and served over some very tasty, toasted foccacia.  I'd call them the highlight of the meal, and given how quickly they disappeared, my husband would agree.  We also split a Caesar salad, which was large, well chilled and good.

The daily special was eggplant parmesan--one of my favorites.  But, sadly, this won't be making my eggplant parm top ten.  The sauce was good, and the serving was definitely more-than-full size, perfect for sharing.  But, the eggplant got a bit lost in the breading, and the mile high approach crafting the dish (it likely stood 4-6 inches high) really does not serve what is a fairly delicate vegetable.  So, it was more mushy than it should have been.  Again, it wasn't bad, it was just okay.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the tiramisu.  I'm a tiramisu snob and make a pretty delicious one myself, and theirs (while offering a lovely presentation) was not good.

While the food average, I have to give full credit to the service.  It was fantastic:  Ia gracious, friendly server; water that was never empty; diet coke refills that appeared without mention; extra plates offered.  And, truly, sometimes at the end of the day, that's really what you want--someone to be nice to you, feed you, and offer you a lovely waterfront view.


We went to Haveli Indian Cuisine because we had an expiring Groupon--how many restaurant stories begin that way today?  Probably too many.  Haveli is part of what I'm coming to think of as East Henrietta International Row on which you'll find multiple restaurants from India, Thailand, the Dominican Republic ... and Jimmy John's.  (One of these things ....)

I picked up the kids from Y-care after a school half day.  That's code for: they were exhausted from chasing each other around the gym like screaming banshees for the entire afternoon.  My goal was simple:  "Come on guys, we'll just run a few errands and then meet up with dad for dinner.  Come on, you can do it."  But ... when I pulled up in front of Marshall's to zip in for a few things, one glance in the rear view mirror at their slumping bodies told me they truly could not do it  So, I headed for Haveli to sit in the parking lot for the next hour, cycling the heat on and off, while I listened to Wings, signed about 100 letters, and returned some emails.  When I woke them up they were "so cold, mom!," "going to die if [they] didn't eat," and "having the worst headache EVER."  Great start.

Once inside Haveli, it wasn't looking up.  The restaurant really overdoes the incense--or as my son put it, "this place smells."  But, each booth but one was already full at 6 pm, which seemed a good sign.  The kids lolled listlessly in their seats, alternately complaining bitterly about everything and providing snarky commentary on the more-than-bizarre set of Indian music videos which seemed linked by a narrative thread that was eluding us.  We needed emergency appetizers, stat!

Have you got kids?  If so, your perfect Indian appetizer is Chicken Pakora--basically Indian-style chicken nuggets.  We ordered those, some samosas (again, kid-friendly fried things filled with potatoes & peas), and garlic naan (which, for their true happiness, really needs to be served AYCE style).  Within 15 minutes, both daughter and son were back in fine form, smiling with restored color and vitality, all physical maladies mysteriously cured.  So, by the time their dad showed up, the table was ready to rock.

For dinner, we ordered more garlic naan (see above).  My son got his usual--tandoori chicken.  Haveli's is deliciously moist with a delicate hint of yogurty-curried BBQ.  He ate 2 and a half pieces!  My daughter got her usual--chicken tikka masala, mild.  I would describe Haveli's chicken tikka as being more like butter chicken with a very creamy tomato curry base--which is not to say it wasn't delicious.  It was!  And their mild is really mild, just perfect for her.

My husband and I decided to split two dishes:  chicken palak and baingan bharta.  The chicken was cooked with fresh spinach, garlic, gingers, tomatoes and onion.  It was quite light on the tomatoes and heavy on the spinach, which really worked for us, and the mild seasoning in this dish was noticeably deeper than on the tikka.  It was a great, warming meal that didn't feel overly heavy.   The bharta was eggplant sauteed with fresh tomatoes (again, light) and peas--then baked.  It was medium and added a richer warmth and taste to the meal, and I was impressed by how pert the peas were--still with a bit of a "burst" when bitten.  Super yummy when combined with the palak.  And, of course, it isn't our table at an Indian restaurant without raita!  Haveli's includes tomatoes, which tasted delicious in the yogurt base.  The rice was fab, too!

A final note on the incense smell: I suggested to my children when we were seated to "give it 10 minutes and you won't even notice it anymore."  And, sure enough, once again, mom is a psychic genius--look, I take the wins where I get them!

We'd definitely go back to Haveli--weird videos and all!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wegman's Food Bar

Let me first state the obvious: there is no place like the Pittsford Wegman's.  If we ever leave ROC, I'm buying a pair of red shoes for any future food emergency.  Then, I can just click my sparkly ruby slippers and say, "There's no place like the Mega-Weg; there's no place like the Mega-Weg, ..."

We had loved Tastings, so we were surprised when it closed.  Not that the Next Door Bar and Grill is anything to sneeze at, but the vibe is very different.  Then the Food Bar popped up in Tastings place--and it made perfect sense.  Part diner, part 21st century automat, directly connected to the grocery store you can't live without.  What's the Food Bar's niche?  It's the best place ever for an evening or afternoon when you've got the kids in tow and need to hit the Mega-Weg--but you're all starving, cranky, tired, and in need of some food ... pronto!  And, you want a fairy land in which you can make your own Coke-product from a magical, mystery billion drink machine.  Ta-da ... the Food Bar :)

Why do we love the Food Bar?  Let me count the ways ...

First, you can serve up anything you want from the in-store food bars--Wokery, Indian, Vegetarian, Salad, Pizza, Mexican, Home Cooking, Sushi, Deli, Sub, Dim Sum, Soup, Dessert, etc.--ring it up and plop done at the Food Bar.  I don't know that folks realize this, but you can!  Since the Food Bar proper doesn't have a massive menu, this increases the options exponentially.

Second, though limited, everything we've had at the Food Bar is solidly prepared, yummy, and comes in generous portions!  The kids love the chicken tenders, which are wonderfully crispy and come with plenty of fries.  My favorite is the Mahi-Mahi.  They've taken the sandwich off the menu, but trust me, you can still order it.  The Mahi is broiled, the bun is dense, holding up well to the equally dense filet of Mahi.  The fish is basted with a great marinade and ask for the citrus-soy sauce as a side; it adds a light burst of flavor.  If you want to avoid the bread, order the entree; it comes with a side.  Ask for the legendary Wegman's zucchini fries.

Third, zucchini fries!!  Ribbons of panko-coated zucchini fried to a light crisp.  Squeeze a bit of lemon over the top and prepare for a taste sensation.

Fourth, homey atmosphere where you'll run into everyone at some point or another.  The space is bright without being antiseptic; the booths are comfortable with big window views; the food comes quickly.  And, then, you just pop right in and do all your shopping, with your freshly refilled soda from that amazing dispenser which is ...

Fifth.  I cannot overstate how much the kids love playing mixmaster for their own odd ball soda combinations.  Vanilla Sprite?  Orange Coke?  It's all theirs .... with unlimited refills.  And, still, I can get my much-loved fountain Diet Coke.  Heaven!!

Yay, Food Bar!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Brighton

It's rare to find a wonderful neighborhood restaurant.  A place where the menu always delivers up something delicious and the specials are truly special.  A place where the owner plops down at your table to talk with your kids about school.  We've found such a place at the Brighton--yay!!

With my daughter pirouetting the evening away, my husband, son, and I met up at the Brighton last night ready for comfort food (yep, that kind of week--and that was even before it was over).

First up, wings!!  I'm going out on a limb here but will stand my ground:  the Brighton has the best wings in Rochester.  They are spicy with an Asian twist; we've made a meal of them in the past.  The kind of wings where you try to inconspicuously count the bones on all the plates to see if you can grab another one without looking overly piggy.  So good!

After hearing the specials we were good to go.  My husband ordered the Asian-marinaded grilled pork with broccoli, scallions and peanut noodles; I ordered the fajita-marinaded flank steak sandwich with sauteed peppers on a hoagie roll with seasoned fries.  The boy ordered a mini-Brighton burger (bacon cheeseburger).  One of the great things about this place is that they can make many of their items kid-sized, so much better than a kids' menu!

The pork special was fantastic.  The marinade on the pork was subtle but stood up to the creamy rich peanut sauce--as did the firm broccoli.  His portion was huge!  He took half home.  But, it didn't last.  As soon as my daughter got home, she ate her second dinner (where she puts this stuff is beyond me), which was all my husband's leftovers.  They barely had time to get cold.

My sandwich was super-yummy!!  Its marinade was stronger, with smoky chipotle undertones and a nice spark of lime.  The steak was topped with red and yellow peppers and served on a toasted bun.  The steak juices and marinade soaked into the bun without making it soggy.  Love!  The sandwich was accompanied by a mountain of wonderfully crispy seasoned fries--at least half of which made their way into my husband's stomach.  Oh, I can't forget the pickle slices--thick, crispy and cold.  I love pickles!

The mini-burger was perfectly sized and cooked medium well with melted cheddar and crisp bacon on a right-sized bun.  The verdict:  he ate it all.

We finished it with two slices of pie: coconut cloud (chocolate base with a macaroon-like topping) and pumpkin.  The Brighton's pies are made by the School of Holy Childhood--so you're eating and doing good!  Guilt-free :)

Even if the Brighton isn't in your neighborhood, if you can't imagine eating in such a yellow restaurant, if you've always just driven by on the way to DiBella's (!!!), stop, park, order some wings, and eat some pie--you'll soon call yourself a neighbor.