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youthful French restaurants in DC

Is Bistrot du Coin still open in Dupont Circle? It used to be a pretty hopping place with solid, old fashioned bistro food in a chic, fun environment (for a bistro, in DC). The moules frites used to be especially good.

May 18, 2009
Special_K in Washington DC & Baltimore

The Social, East Ave, Rochester NY

The Social is one of my favorite restaurants in Rochester. Each dish is individually and thoughtfully composed, and the emphasis in each one is on the balance of three to four strong flavors. Preparations are inventive and respectful of the ingredients, and plates are visually very appealing. The place itself is very chic, with bold colors and cul-de-sac seating that's very conducive to group gatherings, which is nice, given their small plates thing. Unfortunately, the service is classic Rochester "I am doing you a big favor, bitches", but that's hard to get surprised about.

Their fries and steamed mussels are the best I've had in Rochester. Salads are delicious (if not nutritious), but relatively overpriced, compared to the rest of the menu. Anything with beef is delicious. Also, pay attention to the specials--I once had some special pork sausage sliders there that were out of this world. Desserts are also nice--nothing fancy, but solid and satisfying.

And eat those mussels. Steamed in a terrific, simple, white-wine and shallot broth, they are substantial and flavorful yet relatively light, and absolutely worth ordering as a meal for individual consumption. Delicious every time, and a relative bargain.

Aug 24, 2008
Special_K in General Tristate Archive

One Ryan Alley, Rochester, NY

Last night, I had dinner for the second time at One Ryan Alley. And for the second time, I left happy.

To start, I had a half dozen oysters on the half shell (served with a mignonette) that were completely gorgeous. One of my dining partners had a pretty little Crab Louis salad--fresh, not overworked, and with a thoroughly welcome bacon note. He then had a really nice sea bass special over an oniony, mushroomy risotto--relatively simple but very flavorful treatments of both--and another friend and I split the pizza du jour. It was billed as Hawaiian, and I expected total mediocrity. It turned out to be really delicious, with bright flavors of mango and cilantro, a smear of spicy tomato sauce with sweet chilis, generous shreds of prosciutto, and a perfectly thin, perfectly crisped crust.

Dessert was a bit of a letdown--much as I enjoy saying "chocolate snowball," it translated into a kind of meh chocolate cake covered with buttercream and coconut and accompanied by (admittedly delicious) vanilla ice cream and some berries. I was curious about the vanilla panna cotta, and will probably try that next time.

At my first visit shortly after One opened--I guess about a year ago?--I had the osso buco, which at the time I found revelatory. I also had a really outstanding chocolate lava cake with spicy notes of cardamom and masala that took it into a completely different class. However, the service and the pacing at that visit were both so off that I hadn't gone back for dinner since. At this visit, nearly a year into the restaurant's existence, I was much happier with the elements outside my plate. The drinks were strong, the service solicitous, the pacing just right, the lighting flattering, and the bathroom tile intriguing. In general, it's hard to argue with the design of the place--it's bold and dramatic without being gaudy, even though it works better as a restaurant than as a bar.

In general, I'm pretty skeptical of most high-end food in this city--especially in the Alexander-and-East neighborhood. But One takes its food very seriously, and from now on, I will, too.

Aug 24, 2008
Special_K in General Tristate Archive

Southern Seder

Next time CHOW does a Passover story, they should give a rabbi $100 to look things over, first. Lots of the recipes suggested as Passover-friendly weren't. A few (onion agrodolce, anyone?) included pork, which isn't kosher at any time of year.

People who search this site for Passover recipes are probably looking for recipes compatible with the dietary laws of the holiday. Grouping some Jewy-seeming foods together doesn't fit that bill, and gives the appearance of carelessness and cluelessness. I'd rather CHOW just ignore the holiday altogether.

Also, "Ashkenazis should" drop the hundreds of years of custom 'cause legumes are tasty? Sure, and then maybe the Christians can drop the whole Jesus thing. Good luck with that.

Apr 30, 2008
Special_K in Features

Tasteology in Rochester, NY--Disappointed

After all the buildup about Tasteology--low cal! fresh ingredients! clever preparations! green wines!--I was pretty psyched to check it out tonight. Sadly, it was incredibly disappointing. I ordered the special lamb shank, which not only held up the rest of the meal (it took nearly an hour for an 8-person table to get fed in a nearly empty restaurant) but came out the texture and taste of a winter hat. The waiter apologized, said the overdoneness was in response to a customer's complaint that an earlier iteration had been underdone, and offered to replace it. He did, with a fatty but delicious 12-oz. ribeye steak. Unfortunately, the bill charged me for the lamb, anyway (which was priced at $27, double the most expensive menu item). Although this was reduced to $12 (classy!) when I mentioned it, there's a point where, rather than fix mistakes, I'd rather that a restaurant just stop making them.

The other folks at my table reported their meals were good, but not great. Flatbreads were more appealing (and crisper) on paper than life, and a "very spicy" lobster ravioli was "meh."

We won't go back.

Apr 29, 2008
Special_K in General Tristate Archive

Rochester, NY local candy?

The sponge candy at any of these places is very Rochester, from what I hear. It's pretty tasty. I'd go for dark chocolate if I were you.

There's a Geulah's fudge sauce sold at the Ravioli Shop (among other places) that's pretty good, although I don't think that qualifies.

Apr 29, 2008
Special_K in New York State (exc. NYC)

Mississippi Praline Macaroons

Meh. The flavor in these was a little underwhelming, although the ones I didn't burn sure were pretty.

Apr 22, 2008
Special_K in Recipes

Garfinkle Family Noodle Pudding

I AM Jewish, and I've been wondering the same thing.

Apr 14, 2008
Special_K in Recipes

Seeking unique foods/markets/experiences - Syracuse to Rochester

Consider a visit to Hurd Orchards (http://www.hurdorchards.com/index.htm). They do themed luncheons and occasional dinners all summer and fall in a really gorgeous setting with great food. You've got to book ahead, and it's not cheap, but I hear good things.

I really do wish they did more on weekends. I mean, some of us have JOBS.

Jul 25, 2007
Special_K in General Tristate Archive

one dinner in Rochester

The King and I is in a strip mall in Henrietta, and the food is, to me, very average. I have not been to The Olive Tree, but I've lived here for 6 years and it's never been recommended to me. Tastings was good, but not great, when I went.

Although Rochester does not excel at fine dining, I really think you can do much better than wings.

If you care at all about ambiance and you're near downtown, I'd try The Social on East Avenue (mentioned earlier here by someone else). It's right next door to Veneto's, but is so new it isn't listed anywhere. (Call Veneto's for directions.) They offer small plates, of which I've had about 8 so far, and a small but decent wine list. Everything I've had has been terrific--nearly impeccably prepared and presented. They focus on fresh, local ingredients, and both the food and the place itself are really chic and visually engaging, as well. Although it's certainly more fun with lots of people, I think it'd also be a great place for a solo meal.

Also very local and hip, but way more casual, is John's Tex-Mex on South Avenue. It's a tiny, brightly colored place with some straightforward tacos/burritos on the menu, as well as a few surprises--although I feel the fresca taco is the best showcase for their great steak, fresh salsa, and that homemade smoky red hot sauce. They also serve booze and various oddball sodas and juices, and should consider charging for the great people-watching value.

For fancy schmancy, Rooney's is the local hidden gem (near the Highland Diner in the Swillburg neighborhood). I've never been there, but it has gotten raves from everyone I know who has. They have a fairly traditional but apparently beautifully executed menu. 2 Vine (downtown, next to the Little Theatre) is also excellent, with creative food and a gorgeous interior.

Either way, I'd follow up your dinner with a visit to Solera, a terrific, laid-back wine bar on South (this will be a 2-block walk if you go to John's, a 2-minute drive if you go to Rooney's, and a 4-minute drive if you go to Social). They have extremely knowledgeable and personable staff, an eclectic and up-to-date wine list, and now, a cheese plate! This is one of my favorite places in Rochester.

If you want coffee and dessert afterward, great spots are Java's (for the desserts and the arty ambiance, if you can stand the bitchy service and the uneven coffee), Boulder (for the good coffee and the okay desserts, if you can stand whatever unbelievably loud live crap they're showcasing that night), Equal Grounds (for the cozy surroundings, if you can stand the gay teen drama), and Starry Nights (for the good desserts, good coffee, and nice ambiance, if you can stand the inexplicable and very sad absence of cool people). Avoid, at any and all costs, The Chocolate Bar.

And if you end up having lunch instead of dinner, go to Open Face.

You eat now!

May 29, 2007
Special_K in General Tristate Archive