The Ox and Stone opened up this summer in the old Bamba Bistro location. We went one night as a family in the first couple weeks just to give it a try and had a cool dining adventure.
I grabbed the kids and met my husband there for an early dinner. The menu is "latin kitchen cuisine." Since he's from Miami, we're very familiar with Cuban food; and Rochester has its share of great Puerto Rican and Dominican restaurants; and it's got a growing list of solid Mexican restaurants. But, in choosing appetizers, we ran across one we haven't seen before: chapulines. Yep, grasshoppers. In case your Spanish is a bit weak, they put a little picture of a grasshopper next to the menu entry.
Oh, yes, we were in!
We had the empanadas, crispy pig ears, guacamole with ham, and chapulines for appetizers. The empanadas were not great: too doughy and greasy. The pig ears were good: crispy, crunchy and smoky; but the serving size was a bit large for an appetizer for four. I don't eat guac, but they loved it. I did eat the addictive fried tortillas that come with it. The seasoning on these was outrageously good: salty and spicy. I could have eaten a table full of them. The chapulines were a new experience--seasoned wonderfully, light yet crisp, almost like salty-cuminy-chiley airy rice puffs with legs. I don't know that we'd order them again, but they were actually pretty good.
The kids ordered the chicken tinga tacos, which included a sauce not on the menu. It was a bit sweet (almost tasted like it had a fig base) and not to their liking, but they ate the chicken and cheese out and were happy given all the grasshoppers they had eaten already :) My husband had enchiladas mole and enjoyed it. I ordered the Dorado: red-rubbed mahi with creamy rice. I expected the mahi to have some heat to it, but it was very mild. The fish was perfectly cooked, though, and the creamy rice had a softness and slight sweetness to it that was complemented well with diced green peppers. It was quite rich, so I shared it with everyone--who loved it!
For dessert, we shared a tres leches cake. Yum--a billion calories in a whipped confection surrounding white cake. Never has a dessert ever been as deceptive and so good as tres leches. The plate was cleaned bare … almost as though it had been attacked by chapulines!
I've already been back for a business lunch. This time got a split taco order: one al pastor and one barbacoa. The barbacoa was good, but the al pastor was delicious. That roasted pineapple with the pork is crazy! Also got the oxtail croquettes. Again good but could have been a bit more flavorful.
Even last week, they were still putting some finishing touches on the interior, which has a great arched ceiling, a cool shadowy vibe and a wonderful backing soundtrack. Make sure to sit next to one of the shaded windows. You'll forget you're in Rochester and be transported to a Robert Rodriguez film, albeit with fewer machine gun guitars and more fried tortillas.