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Aaron T

Rochester, NY

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Aaron T   

I'll be going up to Rochester soon for a few days for a friend's wedding. Do any eGulletteers have any suggestions for places to eat up there? Any suggestions appreciated!

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mogsob   

Rochester is not a dining destination, by any means. That said, as my wife is from Rochester (and I have therefore been several times), here are my suggestions:

Upscale Dinner: Edwards. One of the Landmark Rochester Restaurants and housed in a historic downtown building. They have recently moved and I have not been since the move, but my meals there have been pretty good (their beef wellington beats any version from NYC hands down, but that's not exactly difficult) and fairly reasonable. The Daisy Flower Mill is also pretty good for prime rib.

Burgers: Rochester is burger heaven. Here are a few suggestions: Bill Gray's, Schaller's (the one by the lake), and Sullivan's are three of the best. I especially like Sullivan's.

Nick Tahoes -- a Rochester institution (hot dogs). BYOG (bring your own gun).

Ice Cream -- Abbot's (the one by the lake). Frozen custard at its best.

Drinks -- The Old Toad. An English pub serving actual real ale imported from England. Brilliant!

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A trip to Rochester would not be compete without a "white hot" or two.

These are hot dogs - beef, pork and veal blends - that are neither smoked nor cured. Company called Zweigle's produces them and a number of places sell white hots. As I recall they are usually char grilled.

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I will also be going to Rochester next month for a conference. Any info on Mario's Via Abruzzi or Rio Bamba? For what it's worth, both Wine Spectator awards restaurants.

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Aaron T   

I'll be sure to try some of these places. I'm always on the lookout for a good burger so I'll let you know how they were. Thanks for the advice!

I believe I have been corralled into a daytrip to Niagra Falls. Is there anywhere to eat there for lunch either on the US or Canadian side?

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ajay   

There's nothing great in Niagara Falls proper but I think you'll be well rewarded if you go to the Niagara on the Lake region, which is close by. There are some interesting winery restaurants in that region. See the Canada boards where I believe there was some discussion of these places.

Also, consider Ming Teh, a pretty good chinese place in Fort Erie (also close to but not in Niagara Falls).

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I will also be going to Rochester next month for a conference. Any info on Mario's Via Abruzzi or Rio Bamba? For what it's worth, both Wine Spectator awards restaurants.

Avoid both

Mario's is little more than homogenized banquet food.

The Rio offers excellent quality but little value. The Chef is former Bouley sous - Jay Cohen but the microscopic portions and Manhattan sized checks will disappoint.


Edited by GordonCooks (log)

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Rochester is not a dining destination, by any means.  That said, as my wife is from Rochester (and I have therefore been several times), here are my suggestions:

Upscale Dinner:  Edwards.  One of the Landmark Rochester Restaurants and housed in a historic downtown building.  They have recently moved and I have not been since the move, but my meals there have been pretty good (their beef wellington beats any version from NYC hands down, but that's not exactly difficult) and fairly reasonable.  The Daisy Flower Mill is also pretty good for prime rib.

Burgers:  Rochester is burger heaven.  Here are a few suggestions:  Bill Gray's, Schaller's (the one by the lake), and Sullivan's are three of the best.  I especially like Sullivan's.

Nick Tahoes -- a Rochester institution (hot dogs).  BYOG (bring your own gun).

Ice Cream -- Abbot's (the one by the lake).  Frozen custard at its best.

Drinks -- The Old Toad.  An English pub serving actual real ale imported from England.  Brilliant!

I'll take Rochester over anything Buffalo or Syracuse has to offer. As a native Rochesterian - I'll offer my 2 cents

Edwards has fallen off since the move

The best fine dining is Max at Eastman place

Max Link

Owner/Exec Chef is a Rochester Institution. Quali stuffed with Foie Gras Mousse, Wagyu Shortrib stew, Duck Cassoulet, etc - and probably the lightest Gnocchi you'll ever have.

If you prefer a hip/upscale experience - try Pearl on East ave

Pacific Rim type food and it's the current place to be "seen" The Chef, Dan Eaton, is cooking at the Beard House in December.

The Daisy is on it's fourth or fifth reincarnation - a step above chain food.

Burgers ? There's a littany - Sullivan's is one of the best (hand cut fries and rings)

The old Nick Tahoes has closed

Abbotts custard is a must

Italian restaurants are some of the best anywhere.

Dinosaur BarB-B Q is a must -


Edited by GordonCooks (log)

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ErinB   

Does anyone else have any other suggestions on Rochester food. I have to spend a week there on business and want decent takeout food. I've been to one middle-eastern place, Aladdin's that is decent.

Does anyone have any other suggestions ? Especially if there is any good ethnic food ? Even any chinese or asian food that is of good quality I can deal with.

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mogsob   
I'll take Rochester over anything Buffalo or Syracuse has to offer. As a native Rochesterian - I'll offer my 2 cents

Gordon -- this is a post I will certainly reap much from. Agreed entirely on Buffalo or Syracuse. And I had forgotten the name of the BBQ place -- but that's it (very crowded). I will try Max on my next visit!

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Does anyone else have any other suggestions on Rochester food.  I have to spend a week there on business and want decent takeout food.  I've been to one middle-eastern place, Aladdin's that is decent. 

Does anyone have any other suggestions ? Especially if there is any good ethnic food ? Even any chinese or asian food that is of good quality I can deal with.

What area are you staying in ?

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ErinB   

I'll be in Rochester, near Greece, but anything in Rochester proper or right on the outskirts is fine. And I will travel for very good food.

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I'll be in Rochester, near Greece, but anything in Rochester proper or right on the outskirts is fine.  And I will travel for very good food.

Greece is a bit of a culinary wasteland with the exception of the best pizza in town – Carbone’s and Tom & Nancy’s

Mexican - MEX; 295 Alexander St - excellent indigenous food and tasty margaritas

www.mexrestaurant.com

Thai – The King and I; 1455 East Henrietta Rd – Very authentic

Thai - Mamasan’s; 309 University Ave – Very Good Thai and Vietnamese. As good as the King and I but a little pricier.

Dim Sum – Dragon Palace on Jefferson Rd (near Winton) – I’ll have to get the address for you. They just opened up. They serve Sat & Sun Dim Sum

Noodles – Mings;1038 S.Clinton – a dive but the best noodles in town ( they have moved so call before going)

Greek – Mykonos – Great Souvlaki and Hummus

www.mykonosrestaurant.net

Greek – The Olive Tree – Great Spanokopita and traditional dishes (fine dining type atmosphere)

Greek (Mediterranean) – Sinbad’s; 719 Park Ave – Aladdin’s as well

Indian – India Palace; 1900 S Clinton Ave – very good but there’s little to compare it to.

Indian – Thali of India – supposed to be the best but I have not been yet.

Sushi – The Plum House; 696 Monroe Ave - Authentic Sushi

Cheeseburger at Sullivan’s on Ridge Rd is a must

BBQ at Dinosaur; 99 Court St – is a must also if you’re a fan

Hope this helps - I'd probably be better at telling you what's not so good

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mogsob   
Greece is a bit of a culinary wasteland with the exception of the best pizza in town – Carbone’s and Tom & Nancy’s.

Noooooo! My wife and her folks swear by Tom & Nancy's, but I've had it and it's crap. It might be the best pizza in town, but that's kinda of like claiming to have the best dim sum in Topeka.

Skip the pizza and head right for Sullivan's. Do not be put off by the grungy interior (or exterior for that matter) -- simply the best.

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Greece is a bit of a culinary wasteland with the exception of the best pizza in town – Carbone’s and Tom & Nancy’s.

Noooooo! My wife and her folks swear by Tom & Nancy's, but I've had it and it's crap. It might be the best pizza in town, but that's kinda of like claiming to have the best dim sum in Topeka.

Skip the pizza and head right for Sullivan's. Do not be put off by the grungy interior (or exterior for that matter) -- simply the best.

The old Tom & Nancy's was crap - the NEW Tom and Nancy's does a very nice thick, chewy crust with a fresh sauce (full of tomato chunks, fresh basil,etc) and slabs of hand cut mozzarella. Of course, if that's not your cup of tea - I stand corrected.

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ErinB   

Thanks so much for the recs. Now I don't have to be quite so depressed when I'm forced to spend a week in Rochester.

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mogsob   
The old Tom & Nancy's was crap - the NEW Tom and Nancy's does a very nice thick, chewy crust with a fresh sauce (full of tomato chunks, fresh basil,etc) and slabs of hand cut mozzarella. Of course, if that's not your cup of tea - I stand corrected.

The last time I had a T&N pizza was (I think) about 2 years ago. I thought that was the new Tom & Nancy, as neither Tom nor Nancy were involved anymore with the business. If this is the new-new T&N, then I will certainly give it a try, as your description sounds great.

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ErinB   

I ate at Thali of India twice, and it was excellent. I had the chicken palak which was great. The chicken was very moist. I also had, i forget the name of the dish, but lamb with a curry cream sauce with raisins and nuts. Again, the lamb was fresh and very moist. I also ordered the vegetable samosas which were very good, but just had potatoes in them. I prefer my samosas with raisins. But the crust was very light and not too greasy.

The person i was with ordered the mixed tandoori grill. It seems good, although i am not too experienced in tandoori food. All of the meat was very fresh ... The servers are very friendly, and the one night we were there they had a guitar player.

I also ate at this great sandwich place for lunch in Honeoye Falls ... Juniper Beans. Great sandwiches, freshly baked breads etc.

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Bumping this topic, because I actually had a stretch of really good meals in Rochester recently.

Really.

As referenced in the post immediately above, Thali of India is a very good Indian restaurant, and there have been some developments recently. First, the original location has expanded and updated its decor. Second, the owners have opened a second restaurant, called Tandoor of India, also in Henrietta, across from Southtown Plaza.

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Tandoor of India

JEFFERSON PLAZA

376 JEFFERSON ROAD

ROCHESTER, NY 14623

585-427-7080

FAX: 585-427-8720

www.tandoorofindia.com/

I decided to check out Tandoor, and liked it a lot. It has a wide range of regional styles, including Indo-Chinese "Manchurian" dishes, Bombay and Southern specialties, such as dosas and chaat, British-style Balti, a Goat curry, and surprisingly, most of the meat dishes can be made with either lamb or beef. There's a lunch buffet every day but Monday, and a dinner buffet on Tuesdays.

We started with one of my favorite appetizers, which I don't see on menus enough: Papri Chaat

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This cool, refreshing dish has chickpeas, crunchy fried noodles, yoghurt, tamarind sauce and ground chile. It was a good version, tangy, crunchy, creamy, a bit spicy.

Hara Bhara Kebab

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Potatoes, Spinach, lentils, spices. This was not a particularly appetizing color, but it tasted great.

Bread Pakoras

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I had never seen bread pakoras before, so I had to satisfy the curiosity. Well, they taste like you might imagine, like deep-fried, batter-dipped bread. Not bad, but I think I'll stick with veggies or paneer for my pakora filling in the future!

For entrees:

Aloo Palak

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I wasn't paying enough attention to what my dining partners were ordering, so we also ended up with the too-similar, but also quite tasty Chicken Palak

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More of a contrast was the Kerala Peppercorn Lamb

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This featured meltingly tender lamb, in an assertively peppery sauce, and a serious level of chile heat as well, as requested.

An Onion Kulcha was fresh and airy and slightly sweet, really good.

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Tandoor has a good selection of beer and wine, including Indian beers, and some good upstate NY white wines that actually go fairly well with Indian food.

Interestingly, there's a huge window between the dining room and the kitchen, so if you want to watch them make your samosas, you can...

I'm not sure whether I like the food at Tandoor any better than at Thali, but the selection is wider, and it's a larger place, so one should be able to avoid the Thali lines. Overall, solid food, and an interesting variety.

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And after that spicy lamb, I needed some palate-cooling. Thankfully a few hundred yards away was a branch of Abbotts Frozen Custard.

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Chocolate Almond

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Vanilla with Chocolate chips.

As you can probably see, this is no the typical soft-serve, machine-pumped frozen custard. It's hand-dipped, and just outrageously dense and creamy, not as airy as the mass-market stuff.

Also, fillings like the almonds or chocolate chips are added-in at the last minute, to order, so the nuts don't get soggy, or the chips frozen. The flavor selection can be limited, they make the stuff fresh every day, and if they run out, then they're out.. But it's worth some compromise, it's great frozen custard. There are a bunch of locations around Rochester, a few further out in upstate NY, and oddly, two in Vero Beach, Florida.

www.abbottscustard.com/


Edited by philadining (log)

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King and I

1455 E Henrietta Rd

Rochester, NY 14623-3117

(716) 427-8090

I can't visit Rochester without a few visits to The King and I. It's solid Thai food, a bit smoothed-out for broad appeal, but occasionally exceptional. They've gotten very popular and a couple of years ago expanded to a larger location, and as one might expect, that expansion had led to a bit of assembly-line, crowd-pleasing, formulaic food and service, but there are still worthwhile things to eat. And even if the entrees sometimes all start looking alike, the same piles of ingredients with a different sauce, those ingredients are generally pretty good, and the sauces distinctive and flavorful. It's probably not going to please the Thai purist, but there's some good food here nonetheless.

I have a sentimental attachment to the place, as we accidentally stumbled in there a few hours after they opened on their first day in business. And it's also really close to my mother's house, so it's really nice to have this as the default, easiest place to to grab a bite.

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Satay is pretty standard, but well-executed, with good peanut sauce and cucumber salad.

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Springrolls have good crispy wrappers (they're available un-fried as well) but the fillings are a bit stringy and hard to bite-through. The can be had in veggie or shrimp-filled versions. Decent.

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Tom Yum is redder than most renditions of this I see, from some extra tomato in the broth, but it's quite delicious.

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Tom Kar Kai is excellent with lots of chicken, mushrooms, tomato, and an assertive kick from lemongrass and galangal. I like it spicier than they serve it, but there's good chili oil on the table that does the trick.

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Sesame Beef is probably my favorite thing they serve, and one of the best things I've ever eaten anywhere. It's unbreaded beef, marinated in what seems like soy, sesame, sugar, I'm sure a few more things, then charcoal-grilled. It has a general flavor profile somewhat like Korean Bulgogi, sweet and earthy and very charred around the edges. It's served with a sweet cabbage slaw that compliments it well. I can rarely resist getting this, even if I had intended to get a curry dish...

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Chicken Cashew has got a subtle spice, and a good crunch from the nuts.

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Pork Curry is made without coconut milk, and has a slightly salty, intense flavor.

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Sweet and Sour Vegetables was neither cloyingly sweet, nor florescent red. The versions with chicken, or whatever, feature stir-fried meat, not breaded-deepfried nuggets.

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Chicken Chu Chee was smooth and creamy and nutty, always a bit hit at the table.

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Pad Thai is pretty standard, but not bad at all.

They offer a pretty amazingly wide array of curries, all helpfully described inside the front cover of the menu. Pretty much everything is available in a vegetarian version if desired. They have a variety of beer and wine, and a killer semi-frozen lemonade that really hits the spot if you've ordered something especially spicy (there are a few things... )

Service can be a bit brusque, occasionally maddeningly hurried. At lunch, if you haven't ordered soup before you've fully settled in your seat, they seem a little put-out. Even at dinner, certain servers can be hovering, pushing for an order, and dropping the entrees when you're a few bites into your appetizers. Still, it's generally good food, and a good value, so I'll put up with it, or intentionally pace my ordering to space-out my meal.

And of course the real reason to go is for the special Michelob Noodles...

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The best meal I've had in Rochester in a long time was sadly undocumented with photos (what was I thinking?!?) and was a bit unexpected. I'd generally given up looking for restaurants in Rochester offering creative contemporary cuisine, they never seemed to quite get it, and were always disappointing compared to what I could find in larger cities. But I was pleasantly surprised by

Sienna.

151 St Paul Street (at Andrews)

585-546-4070

www.siennagrillandbar.com

They not only offer a fairly creative menu, but from my one dinner there, it seems that they generally pull it off. I always find it a good sign when I have a hard time deciding between several menu items, and it also bodes well when I have to arm-wrestle my brother over which of us gets to order something... The menu posted on the website is not exactly what was offered the night we were at the restaurant, and we were told they were about to change the menu again, to focus on some more summery offerings, so the specific dishes we enjoyed may not be available much longer. But I think it's safe to extrapolate that it's worth taking a risk one whatever the kitchen's making.

They were a bit too crazed to offer it the night we were there (a few large parties were clearly torturing them...) but our waiter told us that they usually offer a tasting menu on fridays and saturdays. I look forward to checking that out next time I'm in town.

There was a nice selection of breads, 3 or 4 types, the rye-ish one with a salty crust was especially good.

We started with:

Chestnut Soufflée with Frisée and Pancetta, dressed with Buerre Noisette Vinaigrette

This featured an airy, sweet, earthy disc of chestnut souflée, surrounded by fresh, slightly bitter greens, and nicely crisped cubes of salty pancetta. I liked it a lot.

Grapefruit, Shaved Fennel, Watercress, with Pistachio-Crusted Goat Cheese, Caramelized Honey-Ancho Chile Vinaigrette

This suffered a bit from the ingredients being presented in discrete piles, but the interplay of the peppery watercress, the bright fennel root, and the rich cheese was very nice, once forced to mingle.

Sienna Salad with Mixed Field Greens, Toasted Pinenuts, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Crumbled Bleu Cheese tossed in Balsamic Vinaigrette

A pretty straightforward salad, but well-executed.

Entrées:

Sienna Trio of Pork: Braised Pork Belly, Pork Tenderloin, House-made Pork Sausage with Sweet and Sour Escarole, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, topped with Warm Smoked Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

This was WAY better than I ever could have expected, I was pretty shocked to see a braised pork belly on the menu in Rochester... But that belly was beautifully done, the fat nicely rendered out, with just a touch remaining under the crisp skin, to provide that requisite decadent mouthfeel. The tenderloin was miraculously juicy, assertively smoky, and fork-tender. And the sausage, served as a small tower of un-cased meat, had a bold flavor that contrasted nicely with the other two elements. But what put this dish over the top was the excellent escarole, which played the part of an elegant saurkraut. Potatoes were well-cooked as well, and were complimented by the vinaigrette. An excellent dish, sadly i suspect it'll be off the menu until the fall or winter...

Pan-Roasted Duck Breast, with Duck Confit Strudel, Baby Carrots, Pomegranate Glaze

The breast was a pretty conventional presentation, but quite tasty, especially with the tart pomegranate sauce. But the exciting part was the strudel. I'd assumed this would be a "streudel," you know, something bearing some vague structural relation to the inspiration. But no, this was a pretty straight-ahead streudel, sweet and flaky, pretty good as a dessert, but with shreds of duck leg in it. And it worked.

Prime Rack of Lamb in Macadamia and Mint Pesto Crust, served atop Sauteed Swiss Chard and Toasted Almond Mashed Potatoes

Again, no big innovations here, just good lamb, perfectly cooked. And the Swiss Chard was great, an excellent foil for the meat. The potatoes were simply sprinkled with some toasted almonds, which tasted better than it sounds...

Portions were very generous, so it was all we could do to share one dessert, a super-dense chocolate cake, topped with Guinness Ice Cream. Again, no big surprises, just really tasty.

Sienna has a full bar, with decent wines by the glass, ranging from acceptable house offerings, to some outrageously expensive "premium" selections. Selections by the bottle were nicely varied, and I really appreciated the availability of a few half-bottles as well.

Service was very professional, informed and friendly (with only a bit of mangling of the French language...) although the overall pacing of our meal was pretty bad. We had an 8:30 reservation, but weren't seated until well after 9, and didn't get our salads until just about 10. Entrees were a little slow, but not as bad as the rest of the night. Normally, I'd be pretty pissed about this, but we could see that there were 3 large groups that were bogging them down, and the host and waiter were quite apologetic about the pacing. They probably could have been a bit more gracious, we really did wait a pretty outrageously long time to get started, I think some drinks could have been sent our way... but we could see what was happening, it was largely out of their control, short of turning a hose on one of the tables, so we had some sympathy.

The prices a re a bit steep for Rochester, but seemed quite worth it for what we got. Two cocktails ($6-7ish) a half bottle of Pinot Noir ($20ish) three apps, three entrees, one dessert, came to about $200 after tax and tip.

This was one of the most interesting and satisfying meals I've had in Rochester. This kitchen could hold its own in a much bigger city, showing some real creativity along with good basic execution, and insistence on good ingredients. I look forward to returning when I'm back up that way, hopefully for a tasting menu.

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I grew up in this town, but moved away long ago, so most of my references are seriously out of date! :wink: Funny to see some old stalwarts mentioned at the beginning of this thread.

However, I can vouch for Restaurant 2 Vine, on Winthrop Street near the Little Theater. Very good food, very good decor, very good wine list. I was impressed, quite frankly - it showed that restaurant dining up there had come a long way.

And I've heard very good things about Veneto, a wood-fired pizza place on East Avenue. Will catch that on my next visit up.

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Anybody in the Rochester area know how Max of Eastman Place is doing? Had a wonderful tasting menu a couple of years back put together by Chef Tony and was wondering if it was still open/good?

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Anybody in the Rochester area know how Max of Eastman Place is doing? Had a wonderful tasting menu a couple of years back put together by Chef Tony and was wondering if it was still open/good?

Hands down the best place(s) in town. Currently my weekly haunt. He also opened Max's Chophouse - the only dry aged prime in the city done on a Luger Style 1500 dg broiler and took over food operations on the Inn on the lake in Canandaigua.

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