Culture » Dining Reviews

Dishing it out


We're emptying the Tip Jar over here at Chow Hound HQ, but before we do, a trip to exotic State Street...

Berbere-spiced lentils have lately become this carnivore's first thought when venturing out for a bite, and credit for that should go to Rochester's recent wave of excellent and affordable Ethiopian spots. The latest is Taste of Ethiopia (155 State St., 503-4056,, which offers a typical American restaurant experience alongside a more traditional — and way more colorful — Ethiopian one that involves communal dining out of a tall lidded basket.

The well-executed food doesn't stray too far from the other local offerings (with the exception of tripe and liver, which I haven't yet noticed on other Ethiopian menus around here), and there's an array of customizable combination platters that showcase this increasingly popular cuisine in all its complex yet satisfying glory. The Monday-Friday vegan lunch buffet is currently a shockingly inexpensive $6.99, and I'm not lying when I say that Agegil ($12), a layered dish with both chicken and beef tucked in injera, provided me with delicious dinner for three days. Tying it all together is owner Mesrak Tesfaye, who displays seemingly inexhaustible amounts of both patience and passion while explaining her dishes.

Tip jar

The Cooking School at the Mt. Read Tops Friendly Markets hosts its annual February Break Cooking Camp Days beginning Monday, February 17, with classes like "Make-Your-Own Sushi" and "Food Art" among those available to kids ages 4 and up. Visit and click on "Cooking School" to learn how to register.

Fans of ice wine, made by extracting the sweet concentrated must from frozen grapes, may want to hit Casa Larga Vineyards 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, February 15, for the 6th Annual NY Ice Wine and Culinary Festival. The day will include ice wine and food tastings, seminars and demos, wagon rides, live music, and other activities. Advance tickets are $55; get 'em at

We Rochesterians are a sturdy lot and certainly not ones to let a little snow come between us and good grub, so throw on an extra layer for the Food Truck Sno-deo, going down at the Rochester Public Market on Sunday, February 16, 1-5 p.m. You know the drill, but visit for the latest details.

A gaggle of New York State craft beers will be available for sampling at the RocCity Brewfest, happening Saturday, February 15, at the Main Street Armory, 900 E. Main St. Tickets are $35 in advance and can be scored at Wegmans, Southtown Beverages, the new AJ's Beer Warehouse, or by visiting

Show off your smarts at the Adult Spelling Bee and Beer Tasting at Donnelly's Public House, 1 Water St., Fairport. The double-elimination event takes place Wednesday, February 26, at 8 p.m., with prizes going to the top three finishers. Find out how to register at

Aspiring culinarians ages 12-18 are invited to participate in the Wegmans Culinary Teen Camp Scholarship by penning an essay of up to 350 words on "What inspires you to want to learn more about cooking?" Two winners will attend a five-day culinary camp at Wegmans Menu Cooking School. The deadline is February 28; visit and click on "menu cooking school" for the entry particulars.

"Understanding Your Palate Through Blind Wine Tasting" is the subject of a Rochester Brainery class on Thursday, March 20, 7-9 p.m., that aims to help you begin navigating the tricky world of wine. The bio of wine educator Nick Baldwin states that he's "spent time behind bars," which most likely refers to the wine-selling kind of bars, but at just $25 for the class, who cares? Sign up at


Whatta-Cuisine Vietnamese Restaurant is now open at 309 University Ave., in the building that most recently housed Thai Lao. The spacious revamp of Monroe Avenue's Whatta Bánh Mì still serves the pho and bánh mì for which the business was known, but the menu also skews Japanese in spots, with sushi-bar offerings available soon. Call 319-4831 for details, or visit the Facebook page.

Located at 492 Monroe Ave., South Wedge Hots & Subs is technically not in the South Wedge, but you can't quibble with the food: plates, subs, fried goodies, and all-day breakfast sandwiches (that's until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday). Call 546-1530 to learn more, or visit the Facebook page.

Tom and Catherine Bullinger's Victor Brewery, 6606 Route 96 in Victor, leads an avalanche of local breweries set to debut in 2014, offering an impressive roster of beers to taste and take home, along with classes, tours, and community events. Do a little advance work at, or call 902-8166.

The former Fujiya space at 2215 Empire Blvd. in Webster is now home to Maa's Diner, serving homestyle comfort food from morning until evening. Call 671-9090 for more information, or visit the Facebook page.


A "For Lease" sign has materialized in the window of 642 Monroe Ave., which would seem to indicate that Rosie's Hot Buns is closed for good.

Southwedge Colony Bar & Grille, 503 South Ave., is now closed.

Charlotte's Pier 45, shuttered due to construction at the Port of Rochester, will not be reopening.

Opa! Authentic Greek Koozina, 1175 Jefferson Road, closed this past December.

The Don's Original at 2545 Monroe Ave. will soon become a Tom Wahl's.

Rumi's Mediterranean Cuisine, 2735 Monroe Ave., is closed after a little over six months in business.

Bamba Bistro's website says that the restaurant at 282 Alexander St. "is under new ownership and is closed to do long-term planning," so stay tuned.

Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to [email protected].