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!


  1. Thank you so much for the post! My girlfriend and I will be going here. If she wore a darker dress, not a cocktail dress, but no sun dress either, with heels, would that be to dressy and out of place at Rooney's?
    I don't want her to feel over dresser or under dressed. Thanks!

  2. It's obviously been a while, but I think she would be fine!