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CHOWHOUND | Rochester's food + bev scene

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In early August The French Quarter Cafe opened at 534 W. Ridge Road, where the Irish bar McGinnity’s Restaurant and Party House closed in June after almost 50 years in business. This is the fourth move for French Quarter since its founding in 2008 on Arnett Blvd., followed by stints in the Park Ave. neighborhood and downtown in the historic Brewster-Burke House. The restaurant serves Cajun and Creole cuisine, such as smothered deep fried catfish and crawfish étouffée, po' boys, New Orleans hot chicken, fried okra, and more. Lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and dinner hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Cassie’s Citchen and Catering opened at 163 State St. in early August, offering comfort food items like barbecue chicken, pot roast with carrots and potatoes, baked mac and cheese, collard greens with smoked turkey, and dirty rice. The spot offers dine-in and take-out, and there is outdoor seating and an event space as well. Cassie’s is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Thursday, and Friday, and from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

A sister restaurant to Geneva’s Kindred Fare, Lila’s, has opened in the brand new Hampton Inn & Suites in the Neighborhood of Play. With the catchphrase “meet me in the lobby,” Lila’s encompasses an indoor dining and entertainment space with a fireplace, art gallery, and outdoor patio. Standout menu items include a daily oyster selection with lambrusco mignonette, a caramelized vidalia onion dip, and a host of local wine and beer on the list. Lila’s is open from noon to 10 p.m. daily, with a martini hour 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

River Street Sandwich Makers opened in the South Wedge in the former Harry G's New York Deli And Cafe location at 687 South Ave. The new deli’s moniker is a nod to the historic name of South Ave., and it offers hot and cold sandwiches and salads, as well as sides and bottled beverages. The menu has lots of standards, but notable items include the smoked salmon egg salad sammie, the bulgogi (marinated beef, kimchi, gochujang mayo, asian bbq sauce, and asian slaw), and the Roc City cheesesteak (shaved steak, gorgonzola cream sauce, caramelized peppers, and onions). Hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.


Just across the way from River Street Sandwich Makers is the former Solera & Cheshire, soon to be Martine, 647 South Ave. It will be a solo cocktail bar venture from Chuck Cerankosky, a co-owner of Good Luck, Cure, Jackrabbit Club, Radio Social, and Lucky’s, with bar manager Will Cornfield. Think two levels of craft cocktails, with a closely curated wine and beer list, and a DJ booth upstairs.

The Grove Chop House, an upscale steakhouse from SCN Hospitality specializing in woodfire-cooked meats, will open at 260 E. Broad St. It’s part of the growing collection of businesses ringing The Grove, a newly-branded patio-like gathering space between Tower280 and the Butler/Till Building. It will join the wine bar Unwine’d, Branca Midtown, and other businesses in the two buildings.

Also coming to The Grove this month is a nightlife spot for the Dungeons and Dragons set. After more than a year of bringing pop-up game nights to Rochester businesses, Dice Versa is opening a board game lounge at 280 E. Broad St. It will host events, have games on hand, and serve drinks and food. There’s a lot of focus on high-tech gaming these days, so it’s cool to see the in-tandem rise of the old-school analogs.

In the CITY magazine neighborhood of High Falls, local news folk rejoiced to hear that Happy Gut Sanctuary is currently building out the former Fina’s Cafe at 229 Mill St. Happy Gut, an award-winning, AAPI-owned fermented tea bar and cafe which serves house made kombucha, pour over coffee, and food will relocate from the Hungerford Building in the Public Market District. The owners are currently running a crowdfunding campaign for $100,000 to finance the move.

Upscale South Wedge restaurant The Cub Room, owned and operated by former NYC restaurateurs Greg and Jodi Johnson, announced in early August a projected takeover of the former Bank of America space at 58 Main Street in the village of Fairport. A Starbucks is planned for next door.


Black Button Distilling commissioned Rochester bitters company Fee Brothers to create the Citrus Forward Gin Barrel-Aged Citrus Bitters, which was released in late August. The new variety joins dozens of Fee Brothers’ bitters products and continues the company’s upward trend of new releases. The blend is an obvious component for gin cocktails, but a dash in a seltzer or juice would add a refreshing zing as well.

Low-waste health food and home goods store Marilla’s Mindful Supplies opened in late August at 661 South Ave. Owner Marilla Gonzales founded the business in 2019 in Geneva, NY, where customers buy items in bulk using their own containers. Marilla’s offers bulk dry food items and organic personal and home care items in plastic-free packaging, supplements, and healthy grab-and-go items.

— Compiled by Rebecca Rafferty and Leah Stacy.

Have a dining tip? Email CITY editor Leah Stacy at [email protected].