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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Gate House - The B. Anthony

Gate House Cafe on Urbanspoon

Morgan and I went to The Gate House a while ago for Valentine's Day; it's a favorite of ours, and located in Village Gate on North Goodman Street in Rochester. Famous in the area for its gourmet pizza and burgers, it seemed like a great choice for a slightly-upscale, yet still casual date. The price is pretty reasonable as well (check out their website for a full menu, with prices).

For those of you out there who aren't big fans of unorthodox burgers or pizza, the "Small Plates" menu features chicken fingers with blue cheese fondue dipping sauce, macaroni and goat cheese (highly-recommended), and eggplant "fries," among other selections. There are also equally-creative salads available, as well as a far less funky menu for children.

I wanted to take a step out of the "norm" and try something new, so I chose a burger which The Gate House calls "The B. Anthony," named after Rochester's own women's suffrage champion Susan B. Anthony (it may seem hokey to some, but The Gate House names most of its food items after Rochester icons, like "The Kodak" or "The Wegman," which I find amusing and endearing). The B. Anthony consists of a veggie burger patty, lettuce, salsa fresca, and sriracha mayo (to add a little kick). It also came with a side of "black and tan" onion rings.

I'm not a huge eater of veggie burgers, but I do occasionally enjoy them, if not only for something a little different than the standard greasy burger fare. Compared to other veggie burgers I've had from restaurants, The B. Anthony ranks somewhere near the top: the vegetable mix used for the patty was a perfect combo of beans, red peppers, onions, and who knows what other delicious ingredients. The patty was cooked so well that, at times, I forgot I wasn't eating meat. The lettuce was crisp, and the salsa fresca added a great layer and texture to the burger. The sriracha mayo added the perfect amount of spice, without making my tongue burn.

The only complaint I had with this meal rested not with the burger, but with the "black and tan" onion rings that accompanied it. Named for the dark lines on the batter caused by the grilling process, these onion rings sounded like they would be the perfect compliment to my burger. However, I found the taste of the batter on the rings quite strange: slightly sweet, with a somewhat bitter aftertaste. I wasn't impressed with the unique flavor, but it might appeal to those looking to compliment their wine.

Despite the disappointing side (I would recommend trying the garlic rosemary french fries instead), I still give this meal a solid score: The B. Anthony is beyond a doubt my favorite veggie burger in the area, and has given me yet another reason to visit The Gate House in the future. For those of you who are reluctant to dine in, take-out is also an available option.

Score (out of 10):

274 North Goodman St., Rochester, NY 14607
Phone Number: (585) 473-2090

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Cheesecake Factory (Pittsford) - Garlic Noodles & Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake

The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

Morgan and I went to The Cheesecake Factory out in Pittsford Plaza on Monroe Avenue out in Pittsford (a redundant, but potentially necessary description), to meet with my parents for my mother's belated birthday dinner. For those of you unfamiliar with The Cheesecake Factory, it is a chain restaurant similar to Olive Garden, offering a casual dining experience and boasting over 200 items on their menu; not really Morgan or my kind of place, but we never turn down a free meal (my father was paying). We're also fans of their cheesecake.

On this particular outing, I ordered the Garlic Noodles - a dish comprised of spaghetti, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and parmesan in a garlic sauce. Herb-roasted chicken or shrimp is also available to add; I ordered mine with chicken and without mushrooms (I tend to avoid putting anything that can grow on feet or in poop anywhere near my mouth). As a quick note, I found this picture of Garlic Noodles online, since I forgot to take a picture of it while at the restaurant - as a result, it doesn't include the herb-roasted chicken.

I found that this dish lacked the careful preparation a lot of local restaurants and diners take pride in when cooking a meal: the asparagus was a little tough, and the large quantity of roasted tomatoes overpowered many of the other flavors (including the parmesan, which I was unable to taste at all). The herb-roasted chicken came in a less-than-generous portion - most of which was fat - and seemed more "drenched in oil" than "roasted," giving it a slimy quality. I found myself wishing for a stronger garlic flavor for the spaghetti, which was almost impossible to identify in the crowded dive bar of tastes in my mouth. These were all things I hope that can be chalked up to a simple fluke error made by a chain restaurant kitchen; regardless, my meal was not nearly as satisfying as I had hoped it to be, and I doubt that I will be ordering this particular item from The Cheesecake Factory again.

Score (out of 10): 3

Fortunately, the saving grace of this visit was the dessert. Morgan and I ordered a slice of Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake, which was made of alternating layers of red velvet cake and The Cheesecake Factory's original recipe cheesecake. The entire thing was topped with whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, and white chocolate shavings. Once again, I did not take a picture, but rather ripped one off of the internet. Thank God for Google.

Beyond a doubt, this dessert was why The Cheesecake Factory includes the word "cheesecake" in their name. The alternating layers of cake and cheesecake will appeal to fans of either, and the cream cheese frosting was appropriately heavy - and delicious. The accents of white chocolate and whipped cream complimented the rest of the dessert quite nicely. I definitely recommend ordering this if you take a trip out to any of The Cheesecake Factory's locations.

Score (out of 10): 9

3349 Monroe Avenue, Pittsford, NY 14618
Phone Number: (585) 381-8681

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wimpy's Burger Basket - #13 Chicken Combo From Hell

Wimpy's Burger Basket on Urbanspoon

Wimpy's Burger Basket is a great little burger joint in Gates, NY in Gates Center, right by Tinseltown, and seems to be a local favorite. Not only is Wimpy's an excellent choice for greasy and delicious food, but it's open until 2AM from Sunday through Thursday, and until 4AM on Fridays and Saturdays, making it an ideal hotspot for a late-night snack.

Morgan and I have eaten at Wimpy's a few times before, and decided to check it out again for some of the unique items they offer on their menu. On this visit, I decided to give the "Chicken From Hell" combo meal a try, named so for its fiery mix of jalapeno, habanero, and Wimpy's own "Evil Sauce."

Before I go on, I need to give a brief description of my tastes in the realm of spicy food: the spicier, the better. At home, I gratuitously lather my food with sriracha hot sauce (made from sun-ripened chili peppers), and when out dining I normally choose the spiciest food I can find on the menu. Normally, I'm disappointed by how mild it is.

The crowning jewel of the Combo From Hell is a grilled chicken sandwich (which can be substituted with a burger or hot dog "from hell") with jalapeno and habanero peppers, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, small strips of bacon, crispy fried onions, and Wimpy's Evil Sauce. Sides include Wimpy's homemade macaroni salad, and home fries.

Let me start off by saying that this sandwich is HOT. When I say "HOT," I mean if you find sesame chicken too spicy, this will most likely send you into shock or maybe a seizure; this sandwich is like biting into the sun (or, to humor Wimpy's naming abilities, hell). This isn't the overpowering type of spice that obliterates the excellent concoction of ingredients on this sandwich though, but rather a sneaky ninja heat that creeps up on you and uppercuts your tongue, just as you're about to utter the phrase "This really isn't that hot." The beauty of this meal is that it allows you to taste and enjoy the mix of flavors before punching you soundly in the mouth and gut.

The biggest downside to this intensely spicy treat is in the after-effects of eating anything this hot: heartburn, indigestion, etc. I don't have a weak stomach, but it felt like a depth charge had just gone off inside of me, right around the time I took my final bite.

As far as the sides go, the home fries were delicious, crisp, and fresh. The macaroni salad had small bits of carrot and celery in it, but was a bit bland. I also would've liked more celery in the mix, if only to add more texture, since it sort of felt like I was eating soggy, cold noodles. Don't get me wrong; the macaroni salad wasn't terrible, but it wasn't my favorite either.

Overall, Wimpy's once again proved to be a great choice for something different, although it does tend to run a little pricier than similar local burger joints ($7.99 for my combo, so be prepared to shell out some significant green if you're bringing out the whole family). Still, if you're in the area and up for a spicy challenge, Wimpy's Chicken Combo From Hell might be worth a stop.

Score (out of 10): 8

Location: 2160 Buffalo Road, Rochester, NY 14624
Phone Number: (585) 247-3160

Monday, February 15, 2010

Critic's On the Mall - Tenderloin Tips of Beef Over Noodles

Critic's on the Mall on Urbanspoon

For those of you unfamiliar with Critic's On the Mall, it's located inside of Greece Ridge Mall in Greece, NY, right across from Chase Bank and Lollypop Farm, and it is definitely worth checking out the home-style cooking offered there.

My better judgment generally causes me to avoid mall diners and restaurants like a pit of used syringes, but Morgan (my girlfriend) and I were hungry, and wanted to try something new. Our first visit to Critic's was back in October and we've returned multiple times since.

I had ordered the Chicken a la King the past few times, and I can say it was like tasting something straight out of my mother's kitchen (this is a good thing). This particular visit, I decided to try the tenderloin tips of beef, which I had the option of enjoying over rice or noodles. I decided to go with the noodles, and ordered a small bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese as my side (also highly-recommended).

The first thing that I noticed about the meal was the lack of vegetables in the dish, giving it a stroganoff quality, whereas I was expecting something more like stew. Despite being just beef and noodles, the meal was still quite enjoyable; the meat was clearly slow-cooked and perfectly tender, and the noodles absorbed the rich sauce only enough to become flavorful, but not over-saturated or soggy. The dish was large enough to pleasantly fill me up, without making me feel over-stuffed, and without emptying my wallet too much; as with most items on Critic's menu, this meal was very reasonably priced.

The only qualm I had was minor and with the sauce: the flavor was great, and made with a beef base. However, the salty quality of the mix was a little stronger than I cared for; I believe it was made with beef broth with too much salt added, or made with one or two many beef bouillon cubes. Regardless, if you're someone who enjoys saltier sauces on your meat and noodles, this meal is probably right up your alley.

All in all, it was a dish I enjoyed and chances are I will try it again on a future visit. For those of you with less aversion to large quantities of salty food, I highly recommend trying this, whether it is your first time at Critic's or your 100th.

Score (out of 10): 8

Location: 362 Greece Ridge Center Drive, Rochester, NY 14626
Phone Number: (585) 227-5520
Website: N/A

Welcome to The Endless Buffet

Let me open this blog by saying that I'm new at this; I've never written about food before, and I certainly have never professionally critiqued anything in my life. Still, I find the concept of sharing my opinion interesting enough to give it a shot, and hope by doing so I can help other Rochester, NY natives (or visitors) find some great eats in the area (or wherever else I happen to eat).

That's the purpose of this blog: to help out people who enjoy a good meal, but don't want someone else's opinion forced onto them like a sweaty drunkard looking for sex at a bar.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment my page, and I'll be sure to answer them as soon as possible. With that being said, let's get started.
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