Monday, July 12, 2010
NOTE: As with my International Buffet post way back when, I was unable to get a picture of Westgate Family Restaurant's logo, since one doesn't exist. Hopefully, you won't hold this against the typically professional (and awesome) nature of this blog. Without further ado, I present...the entry.
Morgan and I have a somewhat bizarre habit of family restaurant/diner "hunting"; I use the term "hunting" loosely, because we don't actively go out looking for family restaurants/diners to eat at, but rather randomly pick one to try as we drive around the Greater Rochester region in my air-conditioning-challenged car. While this habit is potentially gas-guzzling and wallet-obliterating, it is spontaneous, fun, and gives me some great material to work with, as we both become more enlightened in the field of Rochester-based family cuisine.
During one such voyage through Chili, on a hunt for dinner, we discovered a little place called the "Westgate Family Restaurant" in the small Shoppes at Westgate Plaza on the corner of Chili Ave. and Howard Road. The placid-looking, family-style eatery sits quietly between a gargantuan Panera Bread, and a loud, steam factory of a Chinese take-out place. Although we love both Panera Bread and Chinese food, Morgan and I zeroed in on the tranquil family restaurant, hoping to uncover a hidden oasis of comfort food.
The inside of the Westgate Family Restaurant is just as unassuming as the outside: modest decor, friendly and efficient staff, and enough of an Early Bird Special crowd to reassure anyone that this is a good place to simply relax. With an extensive diner-style menu, covering everything from breakfast to dinner, the Westgate Family Restaurant just felt - for lack of a better word - right.
I decided to start my meal off with a cup of the Chicken Tuscany Soup, which was comprised of shredded chicken, tomato, celery, lima beans, and carrots, all in a chicken stock broth. I assume it was made ahead of time, and simply ladled into a cup, then warmed up, but it still came out quick and hot, the aroma alone enough to make my mouth salivate with anticipation.
The best comparison I can make of this Chicken Tuscany Soup to any other food would be salty chili. I realize this sounds odd (and somewhat unappealing - trust me, this isn't a bad thing), but the truth is this: after simmering in a pot for God knows how long, the beans lost some of their firmness, and quickly thickened the broth into a delicious bean trace/chicken stock hybrid. The resulting dish kept the consistency of a thick soup, but had the boldness and flavor of a hearty chili. I'm not sure if this was how the soup is intended to be served, or if I simply caught a tasty fluke; regardless, my compliments to the chef.
For my main course, I ordered a Country Sweet Chicken Sandwich - two grilled pieces of white bread, framing two breaded pieces of chicken (essentially, two chicken fingers), smothered in melted cheddar cheese, and a healthy dose of Country Sweet sauce, all served with a side of ridged/wavy potato chips.
This is a sandwich I'd highly recommend to those who have an attraction to sweet and salty combos. The breaded chicken and melted cheddar cheese, not to mention the crispy, buttery bread, lend the typical salty, savory quality to this sandwich, but the Country Sweet sauce stands out in perfect contrast to the rest of the ingredients. For those who have never tried Country Sweet sauce, I apologize to you - truly, a Rochester masterpiece, Country Sweet sauce (best served with chicken...or anything for that matter) tastes a lot like the offspring of a one-night stand between a bottle of honey mustard and some sweet and sour sauce. Not quite spicy, but shouldering enough of a kick to be called "tangy," the Country Sweet sauce on my chicken wrapped up the sandwich nicely. The chicken itself offered a crunchy outside to a mouth-watering, juicy, white meat center, while the cheddar cheese was in gooey contrast to the toasted bread; this sandwich had some serious texture, in all the right ways.
For those out in the Chili area, the Country Sweet Chicken Sandwich and the Chicken Tuscany Soup alone are worth a stop out to the Westgate Family Restaurant. However, those looking for a nice, quiet place to kick back and relax, while enjoying some delicious, diner-friendly comfort food (at a modest price) need search no farther - the Westgate Family Restaurant might just be your new favorite place.
Score (out of 10): 8.5
Location: 1577 Howard Road, Rochester, NY 14624
Phone Number: (585) 426-7280