Monday, September 14, 2009

The Gatehouse

The Gate House is a restaurant that's always been on our "list." You know what list I'm talking about, the list of places that never fail...that are always good, so you go back time and again. It's located where near Salena's in the Village Gate, in the city, near the MAG (Memorial Art Gallery.) Keep reading to see if this experience lived up to it's history...

The Gate House isn't a very large restaurant. You have about 10 tables and 10 booths. If you're planning on going on a Friday or Saturday after 6:30 or so and don't want to wait, I'd recommend a reservation. There's a bar when you walk in and there are TVs overhead, but it's not really a sports bar. Their shtick here is gourmet burgers & pizzas. I think the atmosphere fits it. I don't wear a tee shirt here, but a short sleeved shirt and jeans is fine. About one step up. It fits exactly where it means to be. There is an outdoor seating area during the warmer months.

Our waitress this particular evening was really friendly. I think this is the only spotty aspect of the Gate House, but this time, she did well, so no complaints. We went kind of early for a weekend night (because we're old folks at heart) and didn't have a wait.

Food (and drink)

The Gate House does not have a full liquor license. They do have an assortment of beers, a decent selection on tap, as well as wine. One thing that I remember from previous visits is that soft drink refills are not free. Just be aware of that. (Unless of course they've changed their policy.) You can get Rohrbach's here. I think it's great to see them supporting local breweries.

All of their burgers and pizzas are named after something in Rochester, or to do with Rochester. So Geoff had the Golisano burger. Apple Smoked Bacon, Blue Cheese, & Pesto Mayo. He subbed the Blue Cheese for American...yawn... and on the side had their Rosemary Garlic fries. They do ask you how you like your burger cooked, something I always like at burger places, I hate it when they overcook everything! It came well cooked. As for the fries, he really liked them. Personally, I like the normal fries better. Good thing he got them!

I got the Liberty Pole pizza. It's got Smoked Mozzeralla, Prochuttio, Artichokes, & Olives. I asked for no olives. While I can tell you who Golisano is, I have no idea what the Liberty Pole is...I'm always impressed with myself when we come here and I can tell you what most of the references on the menu are! As for the pizza, this was delicious! I loved it. It's got a nice thin crust and the toppings just made it really light. Everything worked really well together.

We decided not to do dessert, we were stuffed!

Final Thoughts
The Gate House Cafe remains firmly planted as one of our top Rochester establishments. It's nothing fancy, but it's consistant good food. We've brought both sets of parents here, so it's a place you can feel comfortable bringing others. I highly recommend this restaurant!

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tavern 58 at Gibbs

Went to dinner at Tavern 58 at Gibbs last night. This was a new restaurant for both of us. Geoff had heard good things about it at work, so we decided to give it a try. It's located at University & Gibbs, really in the heart of the city. A classy looking menu & exterior, but a name with "Tavern" in it, I didn't really know what to expect... Keep reading to find out what we thought!

The building is very nice from the outside, there are two outdoor seating areas: one covered, one uncovered. The parking lot directly next to the building only can fit about 6 cars, but there's additional parking in the back of the building on the opposite side of Gibbs. I'd recommend parking over there as it was a tight fit next to the building.

Inside, Tavern 58 is decorated very tastefully. You walk into a bar area, and then there's a dining room off of that. We think there was another dining room in back of that one, but we didn't see it, so I can't be sure. I can see where it gets its's not a very large place. And it does have a feeling of a neighborhood Tavern. Geoff and I had on jeans and nice tops, but I noticed that most people had on khakis. I didn't feel too out of place, but it's something to note.

Service here was excellent. As soon as we walked in we were greeted and shown to a table. Our waiter (Chris) did an great job of being around when we needed him to be, but not really hovering either. When Geoff had a question about the Scotch selection and he didn't know the answer instead of just brushing it off, he went to find out the answer. (In my book that earns you brownie points. I appreciate effort.) He was very friendly and very efficient.

Food (and drink)
As I mentioned previously, there's a bar area when you first walk into the restaurant. They have a full bar selection, beer, wine, liquor...after dinner drinks, a very decent listing of scotch (or so Geoff says...I'll take his word on it!) Below is a poor shot of their scotch selection. On the opposite side they had listed their specialty cocktails and martinis. I was boring and went with a glass of wine. Geoff had a glass of scotch (they ran between $8-14. Not bad.)

I wound up ordering the mac & cheese for my main dish, so I wanted to start off with something. I was debating between the soups...a onion soup & a shrimp bisque...or a salad. I went with the Caesar Salad:

It was very tasty. Nothing really special, very light, not an overpowering dressing, it was a great starter.

And as mentioned, for my entree I went with the mac & cheese. This was an option under their "comfort foods" section, and well, I'm a mac & cheese fiend. I love it, so I had to try it.

Now, part of the reason why I chose to get a salad before the mac & cheese is that I wasn't expecting this portion was huge. I felt like I kept eating and I barely made a dent in it. I finally had given up and when our waiter came around to see if we needed anything more, I request a box and he said, "yeah, that's an adult portion of mac & cheese."

Apart from the size, it was very tasty. Sometimes I'm nervous about mac & cheese at a restaurant because they'll let it sit all day in a half pan and just scoop when someone orders it. This wasn't. I'm sure the cheese sauce and pasta were put together ahead of time, but it was baked fresh, which made me happy. Everything went together just lovely.

Geoff had the sirloin, medium rare.

It was perfectly cooked and tender. I tried a bite and it was melt in your mouth delicious. The potatoes underneath had horseradish in them, which Geoff loved. (I wouldn't have, but it wasn't my dish!) Half way through he remembered what was in them and why he was liking them so much! A very hearty dish and there was nothing left on his plate when he was done!

To top off our meal we split the Tavern 58 Sundae. It was made with Candied Pecan Ice Cream. It was a nice bit of sweet to end with.

Final Thoughts
I was pleasantly surprised by Tavern 58. I didn't quite know what to expect when looking at the website. Here's their menu (warning: pdf.) What's interesting to me is that their dishes run from $8-24. So it's a place that if you're going with a group of friends and no one can agree how much money they want to spend, it'd be good to go to! And I can see us frequenting here fairly often because of the lower priced menu items. I highly recommend Tavern 58.

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Dinosaur BBQ

And now for a Rochester landmark, Dinosaur BBQ...anyone who has been in Rochester for more than 10 minutes has probably heard of Dinosaur BBQ. It's like Wegman's. You have out of town guests? You take them to the Pittsford Wegmans and you take them to Dinosaur BBQ...and if they're feeling particularly brave, you take them to Nick Tahou's. When I moved here, the number 1 question asked of me was, "Have you been to Dino yet?" BBQ has somehow found a home in Western NY. For all of you transplants who have yet to be to Dino, we'll answer your question, "Does it live up to the hype?"


Dinosaur BBQ started out in Syracuse as a Biker's joint. How it's come to be such a Rochester family institution is beyond me. But you walk into the place and chances are good you'll see bikes out front, it's rough-looking. It certainly doesn't have the attitude of a biker-bar though. Inside the walls are wood, dark, and littered with memorbilia, but this isn't the neighborhood Friday's! There are a few areas that seat diners, a take-out section, a bar area, and a couple tables outdoors. Be prepared if you're seated at the long table at the bar to strike up conversation with those around you. It's a popular spot, any meal-time is going to be busy. I personally recommend going for a late lunch on the weekend if you're prone to being antsy while waiting for a table. It's a bit loud inside, not exactly a "romantic" date place.


We had a very pleasant waitress on our last trip. Nothing particularly stood out about her, but she did her job with a smile and did it well. Not much more you can ask for! They seem to have designated bus boys that will come around and periodically ask if you're done with your plate. I like not having to sit with a dirty plate in front of me, so a thumbs up to that. The hostess stand can seem a bit unfriendly, but I think it's more because they're the most hectic area of the place on most visits.

Food (and drink)

The beer list here is pretty extensive. Geoff had the Sam Adams Summer Ale and I was able to get a Mike's Hard Lemonade to drink. They have a full bar, beer, & wine in addition to your standard drink choices. If you're looking for a place to grab a drink & watch the game, this could be a good long as you're okay watching whatever game they want!

I was starving when we got in, so I ordered a lot of food. Starting with the fried green tomatoes.

I'm not sure what possessed me to try these the first time I ordered them, I'm not a tomato fan, but now I get them every time. They have a great tang and crunch to them. We were trying to figure out what the sauce is that comes with it. We assume it's some kind of take on a ranch, but it's not a true ranch. What you see above is the "small" portion. They do offer one that's twice the size as well as "fancy" ones that come with shrimp, cheddar, & bacos. I've never had the fancy ones, I'm perfectly fine with the plain ones!

Being a BBQ place, they obviously have an assortment of sauces. I don't really like a lot of sauce on my food, so I'm fine with what's on there, but you can always add to what's on your meat...

The one closest to this end of the picture is just the regular sauce and they get spicier from there. The one furthest back is down right hot. Geoff tried a little bite...I don't have that kind of bravery. It's the Devil's Duel Habenero Pepper Sauce.

Geoff had a combo plate... pulled pork and beef brisket. It came with your choice of 2 sides and the corn bread.

Geoff wasn't nearly as hungry as I was, so most of this became the next day's lunch! It was as good as always! He has a thing for Dino's Mac & Cheese. We found the recipe online, but I have yet to try to make it, it seems kind of complicated. I'll happily just go to Dino to get it!

As I mentioned, I was starving for whatever reason that day and I couldn't make up my mind between the beef brisket or ribs. Imagine my delight when I saw that they had a combo platter! Oh! Heavenly!

Mine came with 2 sides as well, and as you can tell, I ordered the same 2 sides. We both later agreed that 2 sides with pastas are a little much. But both are tasty! (It's the mac salad on the left and mac & cheese on the right.) I finished most of what was on my plate...pretty sad, but it was tasty!!

Final Thoughts
If you're in the mood for BBQ, Rochester has some pretty decent offerings. Geoff has lived in Texas for a short while, so he can tell you it doesn't quite compare, but for this part of the country? I'd say we do pretty darn good! Now of course, there's always the competition among other BBQ joints in the city...which I have yet to visit! (Shhhh, don't tell anyone!) So I can't tell you which is better than the other. Perhaps we'll have a showdown sometime and order takeout from both places.

All in all, Dino is pretty darn good. I don't quite get why it's so big in Rochester. But when people say "you've got to go to Dino!" and you haven't been yet...allow them to take you. You won't be disappointed!

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009


On 8/24 Geoff and I had been dating for a year. To celebrate, we headed to Rooney's. We had heard that it was the place to go if you want to impress someone, probably the best romantic dining in Rochester! ...well, after all that hype, who could say no? Rooney's is located on 90 Henrietta St, in Rochester, just around the corner from the Highland Diner on Goodman and Clinton. It's in a rather non-descript building, if you weren't specifically looking for it, I'm not sure you would notice it's there. Geoff called that day and made us reservations for 7pm that evening. Did it live up to it's hype?

I have to apologize first, we didn't take any pictures in the restaurant. It didn't quite feel right.

When you walk in, there's a small foyer area, to your right and straight in front of you was the bar area and to your left was the dining area. There were maybe 15-20 tables in the restaurant, tops. Very intimate setting right off the bat. When we walked in at 7, there were only 4 tables that were occupied, one couple sat down right before we did. It was nice, the only problem with that is that you were almost afraid to talk it was so quiet!

Within a half hour or so, the place started to fill up, so that small issue was taken care of. For a Monday evening, they were rather full. We were easily the youngest people there, most of the patrons were at least 10 years older than us, if not more. The tables are covered with lace, which gives it a bit of an older, more traditional feeling...this is certainly not a modern restaurant. I must say, it was nice to see other diners dressed up for a change. I hate going to a nice restaurant and seeing people in jeans. Geoff just wore dress pants and a button down and I wore a nicer sun dress, we were perfectly dressed. I don't know if there is a written dress code for the restaurant, but it's clear that the diners were following one, which delighted me to no end.

All of the servers here worked together. We had one waiter who took our order and gave us our check, but we had all the servers stop by our table at some point and see if we needed anything. (Geoff's Note: No dedicated Sommelier, which isn't surprising at such a small place, but our server seemed to know enough to get by). Personally, I like this kind of service, it's a little less personable because you're not dealing one-on-one with someone, but I think you get a higher level of service because you're never left wanting for anything. It did take a while to place our orders, but I think I just had to get more in the mindset of "dining" and not "eating." Once I did, I felt the meal moved a pace just fine. I certainly didn't feel rushed.

Food (and drink)
They do have a full bar here, but Geoff & I decided on 2 individual glasses of wine. I can't drink red, so he'll take any opportunity he can get! I had a glass of Pinot Grigio and he had a Shiraz. By the glass, there wasn't a huge selection, but I can understand not wanting to open 20 different bottles when you don't have that many tables to begin with. The selection was adequate though.

We both started off our meals with a salad. I had the beet salad with goat cheese. To be honest? I was disappointed. The beets were excellent, but there was a heaping pile of beets on my plate. I'm a huge fan of goat cheese and there were three tiny rounds of goat cheese that were coated in pepper on the plate. I'm not sure how you mask the flavor of goat cheese, but they managed to do it. I wound up trying to cut off some of the pepper so I could at least taste the goat cheese. If you're a huge fan of beets and not so much on the goat cheese? I'd say this salad is a fine choice. But I chose it because I love goat cheese and think beets are alright. I was a little overwhelemed by the beets. I hoped this wasn't a sign of things to come, but figured it was more my personal preferences than the actual dish, so I didn't feel the need to comment to anyone at the restaurant.

Geoff had the Caesar Salad. I teased him for being boring, as they had a strawberry and pear salad on the menu that he thought sounded intriguing. Truth is...I was totally jealous of his Caesar Salad. I snuck a bite, and it was pretty darn good. Oh, and the bread that came with dinner...there were 2 kinds, a white sourdough kind of bread and a multi-grain. Geoff really was enjoying the multi-grain.

For the main course, I had the lamb chops. I asked for medium rare and they were cooked perfectly. The menu said it was served with mashed potatoes, which for whatever reason, I can't eat. I was able to sub for any other starch on the menu that I saw without a problem. Awesome. If I wasn't able to, I would have just eaten the lamb chops and left the potatoes. I really enjoy lamb and this one was encrusted with Moroccan spices. It was excellent. Geoff had apparently never tried lamb, so I gave him a bite of mine and he enjoyed it too. Sometimes lamb can be tough because if you don't get it at a good place, it'll come out gamey. This one didn't at all. And there were at least 6 chops on the plate. A very healthy portion (of which I ate them all...sacrifice the veggies, not the lamb!)

Geoff had the tenderloin, cooked medium rare (sense a pattern here?) His came with the potato cake that I had subbed for and the same veggies that I had. The veggies were tasty, but really nothing to write home about. (Geoff's note: I thought the veggies were really good, Kelly just doesn't like veggies). We both enjoyed the potato cake. It was different, and almost like a hash brown. And as for his steak, he loved it. Said it was much more tender than he was expecting, seeing as this wasn't a steak house, and one of the best he's ever had (next to the steak I make of course! ha!) It was a pretty simple, straight forward steak, and I tried a bite. It was cooked perfectly and I've always said, good meat doesn't need anything fancy done to it...that was a good piece of meat.

We had to split dessert. We went for the chocolate bomb. It was dark chocolate & caramel mousses wrapped in a chocolate shell. We devoured it as usual. Absolutely delightful.

Final Thoughts
While listed as "expensive" in many Rochester guides, Geoff and I both agreed that if you went to any major city, you'd be paying twice as much for that meal. The combined total price of our meal with tax and tip was about $120. The service was excellent, the setting was intimate, and yes, Rooney's is the place to go if you're looking to impress someone. We don't mind paying higher prices for a good meal, with good quality ingredients, and it was clear that this restaurant had both. Granted we won't be rushing back every week, since it is on the expensive side (for the area). But for a special occasion, absolutely it's a gem and worth the money. Go, dress up, and eat well!

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