Sunday, May 26, 2013

La Casa

La Casa is a new entry on the Rochester scene and has "hipster vibe" written all over it.  It's in the South Wedge, in an old house, decorated with tattoo-style, graffiti painting on the outside and lots of wood beams on the inside. Plus the servers seem straight outta Brooklyn (via UR, Eastman or the RIT School of Craft).

My husband and I stopped for lunch.  La Casa's lunch menu is a bit odd in that everything involves "huevos," so we ordered off the dinner menu: enchiladas verdes (one of my all time favs) and enchiladas mole (one of his).  Chips and salsa are not free, but order them.  The salsa is smoky with a deep heat and the chips are perfectly salted.  Yum!

The enchiladas come with a side plate that includes small portions of lettuce/cabbage salad, whole black beans, refried beans, and yellow rice.  Both beans and the rice were more room temp than warm, so I'm not sure if that's the way they typically come.  The beans were tasty; the rice less so.  (We're kinda rice snobs after years of eating rice of the world in Miami--Peruvian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Cuban and others.  This didn't really pass muster.)

My enchiladas were very good.  The salsa verde was very "green" tasting (if you like verde, that makes sense)--bright, cilantro-y, acidic.  It complemented the enchiladas wonderfully.  His were okay--not enough mole so the enchiladas were a bit dry.

La Casa is not inexpensive, and to be honest, while the staff, decor and location are all far less hip, I prefer Itacate.  Their menu is both more adventurous (tongue tacos) and comforting (charros).  Still, La Casa has its charms, and soon after we were seated, the line for lunch was already out the door.  So, it'll be around for quite some time and is definitely worth a visit.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vic and Irv's Refreshments

After a full day at Seabreeze, we were full of fresh air, sunshine, fried dough and skeeball and ready to hit the legendary Vic and Irv's Refreshments.  The restaurant is part of the so-called "hot dog row" next to the amusement park, which is now dominated by the more chain-like and upscale Bill Gray's.  If you're from Rochester, the fact that I've just described Bill Gray's as "more upscale" than Vic and Irv's should give you a sense of the ambience it offers.  Here's the story ... who cares!

If you're eating after a day at Seabreeze, ambience is not a top priority--lots of yummy fried foods are.  And, Vic and Irv's delivers.  Their fries are fresh cut, crispy, salty potato planks; their burgers fill the bun and come with huge pickle slices and grilled onions.  My husband's all the way burger was topped with their vaunted meat sauce; he added one of their homemade onion rings and some of my Beef on Weck au jus and loved it.  My sandwich was on a deliciously salty, caraway-y roll stacked with beef and smothered in grilled peppers and onions (my add)--so good!  The kids all had cheeseburgers and fries--and though the my son's stomach was a bit queasy from one too many turns on the Sea Dragon, the girls (daughter and friend) left no burger bit uneaten.  My daughter ate most of my husband's onion rings, and I dug the delicious mushrooms out of their fried hulls (it's a thing).

We'd say Vic and Irv's is an institution for good reason: a fantastic old school menu (fried bologna & onions, anyone? clam boat? egg & olive sandwich?), super friendly and efficient counter service, and wonderful cheap eats.  Get there, people!

Carmine's Family Restaurant

Someday, we'll get our stuff together ... but probably not.  Which is why we were zipping across town to a dance recital in Greece and left barely enough time to grab some wraps at Tim Horton's.  Almost four hours later (trust me, I wish I were kidding), the recital was still not over, but my kids' dances were--so we decided to try to get some real dinner before 10 pm.  We had passed Carmine's on the way to the recital, so I looked it up on my phone.  Turned out they were open for 30 more minutes.  Score!!

As a family, we absolutely love places like Carmine's.  The menu is as long as the tax code; the counter servers are crazy-friendly; drinks come with infinite refills; and a family of four can eat for about $30.

My daughter has become a fan of Chicken French (it's a ROC-thang!) and got the CF dinner special, which came with penne in red sauce and a salad for about $8.  Seriously!  My son got his standard bacon cheeseburger and fries.  I went Italian Wedding Soup, and my husband ordered wings.  And, of course, there was an ice cream finale to the meal.

Would I drive across town to go to Carmine's?  Likely not.  But, would I eat there if I were in Greece? Oh, yes!  It's a non-chain, affordable, yummy restaurant with gracious service.  Nothing wrong with that!