Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Now Open: "Shmeg's Restaurant"

Longtime Rochester Westside Grub friend and chef Shawn Hoock has now opened a new location. Located near "right where it all began," Shmeg's Restaurant is now open. On the Corner of Buffalo and Coldwater roads in Gates (3027 Buffalo Road) Shawn is once again behind the grill and making a custom meal, just the way you order it.

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday-Friday: 5 a.m.-2 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 6 a.m.-3 p.m.
(Closed Monday)

RWG will be there in the next few weeks, with a blog post to follow.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

American Burger Bar and Beer Bistro

American Burger Bar and Beer Bistro
3208 Latta Road, Greece
Visited Dec. 4, 2014
Written by Drew

Our journey began back in 2010, when Tyler and I stumbled upon a Democrat and Chronicle review highlighting a new place called General Hoock and Sons' All American Pizzeria and Breakfast. We were drawn to Hoock's due to the patriotic name… and the idea of enormous sandwiches with just about anything on them. The American Burger Bar and Beer Bistro, or AB4 as we will call it, drew us there for similar reasons.

AB4 has a great Facebook page which advertises many of the specials for that specific day. With different descriptions and pictures of its food, this is a great place to look if you want to answer the question "What should I eat for dinner tonight?"

Tyler and I were joined by our friend and frequent RWG eater Chad on this particular stop. We traveled into the land we call Greece on a Thursday night, shortly after 7 p.m. When we started toward the restaurant from the parking lot, we all made some sort of comment on how awesome the logo is. 

Upon walking into AB4, you are greeted by Americana. The restaurant is decked with all sorts of pictures and portraits illustrating American history -- portraits of past presidents, pictures of historic locations, and of course several pictures that show true American patriotism are all centered around a large mural of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. One of the more notable pieces of "memorabilia" was a Ronald Reagan napkin holder at one of the tables. 

"That's when it truly won over my heart... and (eventually) my stomach," Tyler expressed. We should also note that this place was adequately decorated for the Christmas season. That’s hard to beat.

As you approach the counter to order, you will walk past at least 12 feet of cold beer storage with what seems to be more than 50 different varieties. I did notice there was a considerable amount of local craft beers there, as well as a few on tap. Just beyond the beer cooler sits a small cooler for soft drinks. 

We were greeted at the counter, presumably by the owner of the business. He talked us through some of the menu items. After ordering, we made our way to a table. The restaurant was made of five or so four-person bar height tables and one long four-person table that bellies up to a window overlooking the parking lot.

Let's get to the food. I ordered a Patriot Plate. Despite being a Buffalo Bills fan, I can tell you that I was digging the Patriot Plate. For my base I ordered tater tots and French fries. The tater tots were well fried, had a nice crunch to them and the French fries were not I the generic fries you would get at any ordinary diner. As for my meat selections, I chose angus beef and pulled pork. The Patriot Plate was topped off with melted cheese and a ladle of Rochester-style hot sauce.

I enjoyed several things with my meal. When the waitress brought out my order, she handed me the plastic bag that my meal was in. Without a doubt, my meal weighed more than 3 pounds. Upon opening my takeout container, the smell of the hot sauce more or less punched me in the face. 

The Patriot Plate had a visually appealing assembly. My burger was medium and thick, which amazed me. Often it seems a burger in Rochester typically comes to you like a flat, textureless piece of burger -- but not here. 

The hot sauce that coated my meal actually had a nice bite to it. Unlike many local restaurants that merely dub to have hot sauce, AB4 actually made a sauce that can stand alone.

I do have to admit I could not even come close to finishing my meal. I most likely didn't even finish half of it. This had nothing to do with the quality of the plate, as much as the fact I wasn't that hungry going in. Next time I return, I will be sure to not eat anything hours ahead of time.

Chad also ordered a Patriot Plate. He ordered his with tater tots and macaroni salad for the base, angus beef and pulled pork for the meat, and covered with hot sauce and onion. AB4 offers both of these as the go to toppings for their plates, as ketchup and mustard are offered on the side at the condiment counter.

Chad finished a good three-quarters of his plate and brought the rest of it home. Chad returned to AB4 with his father a few days later, around the prime dinner time. He and Charlie weren't able to get a seat in the restaurant and the anticipated wait time for a table was more than 45 minutes. 

Tyler ordered off the grilled cheese portion of the menu. AB4 offers at least six different styles of this sandwich, and we are sure if you asked them to make up a new concoction for you, they would. Tyler ordered the Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich, which was compiled of grilled chicken with Canadian bacon, Swiss cheese and honey mustard all melted together between two thick slices of white bread. Arguably the least patriotic items on the menu, but as Tyler would say, "Hey!"

On the side, Tyler ordered an oddity, sweet potato tater tots. The side order of them contained at least 30 tots. Like the tots in my Patriot Plate, Tyler's tots were well done, with a nice crunch on the outside, and the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

About halfway through our meal, the guy (presumably the owner), the same guy who took our orders, came over to make sure everything was alright and to see if we would like anything else. This was a nice touch. It seems that in a counter-service restaurant where there are no waiters and waitresses, the customer is often forgotten about as soon as they get their food. AB4 checks in with you while you’re eating and will send you off with a huge "Thank You!" on your way out the door.

It's hard to top a place that's conveniently located, has a ton of options, good service, and a casual/comfortable-yet-patriotic atmosphere and delicious food. Few places have. 

It was a little pricey, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. We can't wait to go back and continue to take a stab at more of the menu. 

As Tyler said, "If you don't like this place, you're letting the terrorists win."


Atmosphere: One of the best atmospheres we have stumbled across, very patriotic, well decorated for the holiday season, even the beer selections match the time of year, only negative is the limited seating.

Service: Great service, very knowledgable about the menu and I'm sure about every kind of beer that they offer, very conveniently located for many on the westside of town, about two minutes off 390.

Food: Quality and quanity all at the same place, many different toppings and add one for any of their different creations.

Value: A little pricey, but definitely worth it. A lot of bang for the buck here.

Overall: With a close proximity to where we live, this may become one of our new pit stops along the way. We are all looking forward to our next trip back, and bringing more friends and family. Altogether, a top-five stop for RWG.

Grade: A-

Next Post: DogTown, Rochester

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Union Street Eatery

Union Street Eatery 
2139 North Union Street, Spencerport
Visited Nov. 18, 2014
Written by Drew

Now that Tyler and I both have our feet (somewhat) underneath ourselves, we ventured out to try yet another restaurant in our stomping ground and officially call it the first in our comeback tour.

The Union Street Eatery has been operating out of Barefoot Landing Plaza on Union Street, just north of the Village of Spencerport, for the better part of two years now. I have visited this place on a handful of previous occasions. 

When my Uncle Mike (UM) and Aunt Mary (AM) come up from the great state of North Carolina to visit our family, my dad insisted on taking them out to a good meal, usually a fish fry. For years, my dad attempted to find a location that, in his eyes,would serve a mean fish fry.

Well, he found it. 

Neither Tyler nor are ones to go out to order a fish fry. We are willing to settle with the fact that my dad did find the eventual fry that would top his list. One of the things that I believe led my dad to making this determination is the fact that the fish fry came with an option to get steak fries in place of the traditional French fry at no additional cost.

Through these few meals, I have had the pleasures of sampling many of the other menu items. My first visit, more than a year ago, I had the black and bleu burger. The one thing that makes this meal memorable for me is that the burger came to me exactly how I ordered it (medium, no lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, etc.). Often, my burger comes to me with something on it that I didn’t want (which I probably didn’t make clear with the server) or overcooked. The burger on the whole was just above average.

Earlier this fall, my family took UM and AM out to eat here, and I remember being on the fence about what to order. I fell back onto the chicken finger dinner, which consisted of five large beer-battered chicken fingers a dipping sauce and a choice of two sides. The chicken fingers must have come right out of the fryer moments before I tried to eat them because they were still too hot to touch. When they did cool down I was able to enjoy the second-best chicken fingerI have ever had (second only to Tully’s Good Times). For the sides, I ordered macaroni and cheese, which was exceptional, and French fries, which were sub-par.

Enough buildup, though. Tyler and I met up here for dinner shortly before Thanksgiving. Tyler must have been caught up in the impending holiday because he has ordered, a RWG first, a turkey dinnerThis meal was a regular menu item, which included a helping of sliced turkey and a pile of mashed potatoes, all covered with thick gravy, along with a side of cranberry and a side salad or an option of soup. In typical Tyler fashion, the plate was cleared pretty much before I took my first bite. Upon finishing his meal, I asked Tyler how it was, he simply responded “good.”

Let’s talk about that cup of soup. Both Tyler and I opted for a cup of turkey noodle soup (over it’s equally appetizing steak and potato soup option). The soup came to us with a bag of oyster crackers. Silence ensued for about three minutes while we each finished our soup. We both agree that the soup had plenty of flavor to it could have had more noodles and meat to it, but on the whole, we will quote a 2014 New York state gubernatorial candidate: “Soup is good!” 

As for my meal, I had the appetite for a steak. It was surprisingly inexpensive here, as my meal didn’t cost more than $15, which for a large portion of steak anywhere I would consider cheap. My meal came with two sides to choose from; I chose the previously mentioned cup of soup and the traditional style French fries. The steak, like my burger a few months back, came to me cooked just how I ordered it, medium rare. The steak was exceptional, considering we weren’quite at a steakhouse. The French fries, on the other hand, were sub-par, as the majority of them were the bits and pieces left in the bottom of the bag.
One of the things that we used to always include, because often it is a necessity to know is whether or not this location offers free refills on their drinks or not. To keep that tradition afloat, Union Street Eatery does. 

Our experience was pleasant. We went on one of the first legitimately cold winter-like days of the season, which I presume to be the reason behind a fairly empty dining room(mind you, it was after 7 p.m. on a Tuesday). I have been there in the past when there was a short (5-10 minute) wait to be seated. Our waitress was very prompt, attentive and friendly, and made for a good overall experience.


Atmosphere: Clean, very typical for your bill at the front-register diner. A great place to sit and catch up with friends, non-rushed, location is ample and isn’t too far off the expressway.

Service: Exceptional (most likely because of the slow night), VERY friendly waiting staff

Food: Typical “diner food,” great soup, typical fries.

Value: Decent portion sizes, really reasonably priced.

Overall: This would be considered a frequent stop for my family, but wouldn’t call ourselves regulars. It’s a nice alternative to the typical chain, sit-down style restaurants in the area. There’s nothing about it that jumps out, but that’s OK because sometimes that’s exactly what you’re looking for. We’ll be back.

Grade: B

Next Post: American Burger Bar and Beer Boutique, Greece

Monday, November 24, 2014

We're Sorry, We're Back.

Written by Drew

We apologize for our extended hiatus from the blogosphere. During the last few years, we have endured several different things that merely got in the way of being faithful to our blog. It is now that Tyler and I feel comfortable enough to resume from where we left off, and our passion to find the best eatery in the area has not waned. 

I hope that you have caught that I said area. When we began writing in 2010, we defined Monroe County into three zones: the west, the east, and the gray area. This was one of our original guidelines that we have struggled with. As we have aged, we've enjoyed many different restaurants that were within our original borders, the gray area, and now even the forbidden area east of Rochester. We will maintain our name and our logo, but we will travel outside of our comfort zone and enjoy in all of the great food that our region has to offer – and perhaps even venture out of the Rochester area from time to time.

Here’s what’s new with us. Tyler has found success in his post-college life after graduating from St. Bonaventure in 2012. He is currently a producer at one of the local TV stations. Now engaged to then-college friend Amanda, Tyler has taken on more social media work, coordinating various outlets for local high school athletic programs.

I, on the other hand, have graduated from SUNY Brockport. I ran in two campaigns for local office, successfully winning one of the two. My family has purchased what we call a “lake home” on Keuka Lake. I have spent much of my fair-weathered time in the beautiful Yates County. I am currently working for a local school district as a one-to-one aide for a student with a learning disability.

There has been a loss in the Rochester Westside Grub family. My father, Steve, who has been one of our most loyal readers, passed away in October 2014. This blog was one of his favorite reads. We would talk about where we should go out to eat for dinner, and whenever anyone mentioned any of the 40+ places we have reviewed, he would state exactly what everyone had, and what grade we gave that location.

Going forward, we will continue to visit restaurants that we find appealing to our appetites. Along our journey, we may revisit one of our old stomping grounds and re-grade how we feel about our experience there. 

We appreciate our loyal fan base who read our blog for all those years, and truly apologize to those who have been waiting for our next post. For those new followers, spend some time looking back at the 40+ locations that we have already visited, and hopefully we can retained you as one of our own.

Next Post: Union Street Eatery, Spencerport, New York