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Rochester


therese
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I'll let current Rochesterians weigh in with their opinions, but when I was up there last year, there was only once place I went to that actually impressed me as a very good place to eat out. It was Restaurant 2 Vine, on Winthrop Street near the Little Theater (tucked in between Main Street and East Avenue). I went there for a snack before a film, and had country pate on crusty bread with a glass of red wine. Really good, and I was impressed with both the full menu and the wine list. Unfortunately, I didn't get back there to have a full meal. Prices were high for Rochester, I think, but not necessarily out of keeping with the rest of the country. Anyway, in my own personal experience, this place was a big step above other restaurants up there. Nice room, too.

In the Rochester thread http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=20115, the only other place recommended by others that jumped out at me was Max of Eastman Place, but I've never been there myself, so I can't say.

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Therese, I'll answer in this thread rather than the other one. Have checked with one Rochester foodie who has weighed in with her suggestions, and she has a call out to a foodie friend who has her finger on the pulse of the restaurant scene, who'd probably be the best resource for you.

Resource #1 has suggested 2 Vine (as mentioned above), Max of Eastman Place (also mentioned above), and The Erie Grill (in Pittsford, affiliated with the DelMonte Lodge). She's going to ask her friend about the Rio Bamba*, and I'll let you know if Resource #2 has information on that, as well as other suggestions.

It's entirely possible that what you're looking for might not exist, in the sense that, at least when I was living up there, it was the setting that really mattered (e.g., you ate your prime rib in a revolving restaurant atop a tall building, or you ate your prime rib in a restaurant overlooking the Genesee River). Hopefully, with those restaurants mentioned above, things have changed.

I'll let you know what I hear from the other source.

* The Rio Bamba is a restaurant on Alexander Street of which, since the time I was young (which is a scarily long time ago), people would always say as they drove past, "that's supposedly Rochester's best restaurant." Nobody I know actually ever ate there, because the second line of the mantra is, "it's supposed to be very expensive." Resource #1 had heard that the Rio Bamba is supposed to be good, but she's never eaten there, either. I don't know whether this is a Rochesterian urban myth or not. Hopefully Resource #2 will have the scoop on that.

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I'm sure you saw it in the other thread, but I'll just reiterate that I was very impressed by my meal at Sienna. I've heard some other good reports too. It's a nice space, interesting food, not cheap...

And the fabled Rio Bamba has gone through some kitchen/concept changes recently, for better or worse. Last I saw it was being billed as Bamba Bistro, but I haven't heard anything about how it is.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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I'm arranging a business dinner in Rochester that needs to be (a) fantastic and (b) expensive. Money no object (literally the more expensive the better) and no dietary restrictions.

Help, please.

What's the date? Maxof Eastman or The Chop House The Rio has gone downscale and 2Vine is more of a Bistro trend place with an overpriced wine list (albeit good food).

PM me for info and I'll give you some contact names

Edited by GordonCooks (log)
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Nick Tahou's? Well, I'm sure if Therese took her clients to the home of the garbage plate (much beloved by Rochester's tranny hooker populace) she'd impress them. Just maybe not in the way she'd intended to. :wink:

Still awaiting word on the Rio Bamba of lore.

2 Vine's website couldn't possibly be crappier - aren't you supposed to include photographs of "after" when you've transformed an old auto transmission shop into a restaurant? There is a nice room in there, really. But it's strictly a new-American-food-with-a-touch-of-French-influence type of place. Very likeable, but not awe inspiring.

From everything I've heard of Sienna Grill, the food is good, but I think it's too casual for your purposes.

You need knock-your-socks-off impressive? Honestly, I'm not sure that really exists for a dinner-only scenario up in Rochester - it just isn't that kind of town.

So here's a suggestion (presuming, as you stated, that money is no object whatsoever). The Erie Grill is located within the DelMonte Lodge, which is Rochester's closest thing to high-end accommodation. Also within the DelMonte lodge is a very beautiful spa. Treat your clients and/or their spouses to a luxurious session at the spa, to be followed by dinner at the Erie Grill. I think they'd be blissful. And impressed.

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Nick Tahou's?  Well, I'm sure if Therese took her clients to the home of the garbage plate (much beloved by Rochester's tranny hooker populace) she'd impress them.  Just maybe not in the way she'd intended to.  :wink:

Still awaiting word on the Rio Bamba of lore.

2 Vine's website couldn't possibly be crappier - aren't you supposed to include photographs of "after" when you've transformed an old auto transmission shop into a restaurant?  There is a nice room in there, really.  But it's strictly a new-American-food-with-a-touch-of-French-influence type of place.  Very likeable, but not awe inspiring.

From everything I've heard of Sienna Grill, the food is good, but I think it's too casual for your purposes. 

You need knock-your-socks-off impressive?  Honestly, I'm not sure that really exists for a dinner-only scenario up in Rochester - it just isn't that kind of town. 

So here's a suggestion (presuming, as you stated, that money is no object whatsoever).  The Erie Grill is located within the DelMonte Lodge, which is Rochester's closest thing to high-end accommodation.  Also within the DelMonte lodge is a very beautiful spa.  Treat your clients and/or their spouses to a luxurious session at the spa, to be followed by dinner at the Erie Grill. I think they'd be blissful.  And impressed.

Sienna is a fine dining experience firing on all cylinders - would be my recommendation after Max of Eastman or Max's Chop House.

The Erie Grill is rather pedestrian as far as menu and eats like a hotel dining room with a pedestrian wine list - If it's the combo spa-food combo you desire - this is your only choice.

Rochester has top-notch dining, you just need to know where to go.

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Rochester loses one restaurant (though they aren't lost, just downscaled), and suddenly they have sunk to the level of Buffalo? Please correct me if that's not what you are saying, I always thought Rochester had lots of top notch restaurants.

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??? I hope you weren't asking this of me, because I wasn't meaning to imply that Rochester hasn't got any top notch restaurants (all teasing aside about the prime ribs).

I've just been trying to think of restaurants up there that would fit Therese's criteria of: a) nosebleedingly impressive; and b) so expensive it hurts. And there's the rub. Food that's very, very good? Not a problem. Atmosphere that's very, very good? Not a problem. But a restaurant so expensive and impressive that it would register on the Richter scale? Problem.

Down here, there are restaurants that fit that bill, but I just don't see anything like that up there that would fit her criteria. I'm presuming (maybe wrongly), that she's trying to arrange something expensive enough that it would impress, which is why I suggested adding something else to the mix.

My initial inclination would be to suggest that she piggyback Max of Eastman Place and the Philharmonic (which sounds like something I'd love to do!), but if her clients have season tickets anyway, then it wouldn't be as special an experience.

So, in thinking out of the box, are there any special, one-off experiences that can be arranged? Could a dinner be catered in the George Eastman house or the planetarium by some stellar cook? Could the really wonderful first violinist of the philharmonic be hired to play exquisite music while they dine?

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I think I'm mid-way between Gordon and H du Bois: it's possible to eat very well in Rochester, but there aren't any really jaw-droppingly great restaurants that are going to completely floor people with their combination of food, service and setting, like is possible to find in Manhattan, or even Toronto. And it's true enough that prime rib and a view seems to be the most common expression of "fine dining" in the area. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that there have ever been "lots of top-notch restaurants" although I've found plenty that I've enjoyed.

I can't imagine that Therese was expecting to find a Per Se in Rochester, just an impressive spot. I trust Gordon's recommendation of Max's (either one.) Despite having the word "Grill" in the name, Sienna is in a lovely space and is doing serious cooking. It's not ultra-elegant, but it's not casual, or inexpensive, so if food is a higher priority than the setting, it's worth a serious look.

Once upon a time the Rio Bamba was the default swanky splurge restaurant, but whether or not it ever deserved that reputation, apparently that's not the general opinion right now, both from change in concept and in staff. I'm not sure there's an indisputable heir to that throne.

Sneakeater has a point: Nick Tahou would be impressive.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Rochester suffers from "Meat & Potatoes" syndrome. The bulk of the diners in high end places are just "eating" - they have loads of disposable income and are just catching a meal. There is a growing percentage of foodies who like to push the envelope. Supply is meeting demand slowly but it is hard to build your business around the 10-15% we comprise. Lots of old money in town - enough to support 7-8 private country club dining rooms. Rochester, like many places, is not about what you can get from the menu, it's all about what they will do "off" the menu. Max of Eastman has some pretty competent staff. The Chef de cuisine has got some solid chops and has worked all over the country, the sous is a NY transplant (having worked for Bouley, etc) There aren't many others that can dig deep and really wow you. Not mention the foodstuffs they keep on hand - we've had an impromptu white truffle tasting menu, REAL cassoulet, Foie 3 ways, etc...and if you're in the mood for a Romanee St.Vivant or Bryant Family Cab? They've got that too.

Edited by GordonCooks (log)
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Well whatever Therese decides to do with her business clients, when I'm next up there, it's Sienna Grill and Max of Eastman Place for me. :smile:

Lots of old money in town - enough to support 7-8 private country club dining rooms.

Now see, that's one of the biggest problems right there - one that I was trying to bend my brain around. An awful lot of high end entertainment happens in the country clubs. Want to impress your business associate who is visiting Rochester? Take 'em out to the country club and feed them a nice piece of beef tenderloin. Those rooms are really pretty, and there's nothing quite comparable in the restaurants.

I'm so glad that you guys are pushing the envelope. And I wish I knew about all this when I was up there last year.

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The guest of honor at this meal is actually a local boy, somebody I'm trying to hire. And so it's entirely possible that he's already dined at Nick Tahou's. It does sound like the sort of place I might well try, and if I'm ever in the area will keep it in mind.

But in this particular case I'm not actually going to be in the area myself: it's my boss who is doing the entertaining, flying up to Rochester specifically to interview this guy. The point is to make him feel very special indeed (and believe me, if my boss is flying to Rochester for dinner it's a big deal) and so ideally the meal would be something fancy enough that he wouldn't usually go there himself.

I know for sure that he's been to 2 Vines. The final decision is up to my boss. I'll let you know how it turned out.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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The guest of honor at this meal is actually a local boy, somebody I'm trying to hire. And so it's entirely possible that he's already dined at Nick Tahou's. It does sound like the sort of place I might well try, and if I'm ever in the area will keep it in mind.

But in this particular case I'm not actually going to be in the area myself: it's my boss who is doing the entertaining, flying up to Rochester specifically to interview this guy. The point is to make him feel very special indeed (and believe me, if my boss is flying to Rochester for dinner it's a big deal) and so ideally the meal would be something fancy enough that he wouldn't usually go there himself.

I know for sure that he's been to 2 Vines. The final decision is up to my boss. I'll let you know how it turned out.

This guys sounds like a hot commodity - is it me? I haven't checked my messages lately :wink:

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From my family foodie in Rochester:

"Probably the most expensive restaurant in rochester is Tournados located in The Inn on Broadway. There are items on the menu that rise to the stratosphere level from the point of view of money, but not necessarily cuisine. But if you are interested in serious and interesting dining, I would recommend Sienna, Max of Eastman Place, or Rooney's. Both 2Vine and Bamba Bistro are fine bistro restaurants, similar to those in other cities, but would not fall into the category of Rochester's fanciest. I like the idea of combining Max with the Rochester Philharmonic as they are across the street from each other, but would also think about a Kilbourne Hall concert right next door to the RPO. But if the person in question is local, he may already have had this experience."

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But if you are interested in serious and interesting dining, I would recommend Sienna, Max of Eastman Place, or Rooney's. 

And Rooney's it was, in the end, the local boy's pick. And no, the local boy is not GordonCooks, not unless he's leading a very improbably second life. :wink:

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Rent a really swank limo, stock it with some good wines and take a 90 minute ride to Mirbeau Inn and Spa in Skaneatles. It's as close as you'll get to big city market dining anywhere much closer than Toronto or NYC - both in price and quality. I ate there about a year or two ago and apart from the sashimi course the five course tasting menu was exceptionally good (and priced acccordingly).

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But if you are interested in serious and interesting dining, I would recommend Sienna, Max of Eastman Place, or Rooney's. 

And Rooney's it was, in the end, the local boy's pick. And no, the local boy is not GordonCooks, not unless he's leading a very improbably second life. :wink:

As consistent as they come - good choice. Hope it all worked out.

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