UPDATED 11/8/13 to reflect new date for Owl House event.
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and its clear-cut identity, one that typically involves perfectly cooked eggs, fluffy pancakes, and crisp bacon, might be the reason it's the only meal with actual, devoted fans. Take Ed Schram, for instance. "I love breakfast," says Schram, who recently demonstrated his affection for traditional morning food by opening Harvest Café with his son Andrew, who owns the nearby Nathaniel's Pub. Now Corn Hill-billies like myself have a neighborhood spot at which to fuel up for the busy day ahead, or just grab a latte to go and watch the wandering river.
It was while helping out Andrew at Nathaniel's that the coffee-loving Schram noticed a dearth of good joe in the area, and when New Taj Indian Cuisine closed in Corn Hill Landing, the Schrams decided to fill that niche. "Fresh, fresh, fresh" is how Chef Drew Greenfield describes the offerings at Harvest Café, which opens its doors at 6 a.m. to serve what Schram calls "a little bit of an upscale breakfast." That means such options as customizable egg dishes (organic, cage-free eggs are available), whole-grain waffles, brioche French toast, housemade sausage, and various Benedict preparations. Oh, and cookie-dough pancakes, lest things get too highbrow.
Named in honor of Schram's farmer parents, Harvest Café also serves lunch, with the midday meal receiving the same attention to detail as the morning one. Roasted chicken and vegetable consommé is the signature soup, while the sandwiches include a ratatouille meat-loaf burger ($11); an Ultimate Grilled Cheese featuring sharp cheddar, Muenster, crumbled blue, and fresh mozzarella; and The Colonial ($8), with smoked turkey breast, cucumbers, Swiss, greens, and fresh raspberry chutney on multigrain bread. There are salads, too, made with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible; I'm actually writing this between bites of my takeout Orchard Salad ($8), which mingles peppery arugula, tart green apple, bright mandarin orange, crunchy candied walnuts, and earthy goat cheese, all kissed with apple-cider vinaigrette.
Schram is particularly proud of Harvest Café's coffee, offered in the usual fusions but comprised of specific blends and grinds of Moak beans that Schram helped to create. Future plans for Harvest Café include extended hours and a liquor license, with an eye toward serving light dinners, desserts, and cocktails. Meanwhile, Schram and his staff are tweaking the restaurant mechanism and testing recipes. Says Chef Greenfield, "It's a fun process."
Harvest Café is located at 298 Exchange Blvd. in Corn Hill Landing. It is open daily 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Prices range from $3 to $13. For more information, call 730-4604 or visit harvest-cafe.com.
Beers aged in bourbon barrels take center stage at The Old Toad as part of Bourbon and Blues, going down on Friday, November 8, beginning at 6 p.m. In addition to live music by Eric and the Bluesbirds, the evening will also feature bourbon-centric food specials, bourbon flights, and a bourbon cocktail menu. Get further details by calling 232-2626 or visiting theoldtoad.com.
Restaurants like Cravings on Main, Good Smoke BBQ, Next Door, and Mise En Place are scheduled to compete in the 10th Annual Firehouse Chili Cookoff on Saturday, November 9, 4:30-7:30 p.m. For $30 you'll get unlimited chili samples (meat, vegetarian, and vegan creations), a beer, a handmade ceramic bowl, and the satisfaction of helping out the Genesee Center for the Arts & Education. Visit geneseearts.org for tickets, or call 244-1730.
Solera Wine Bar, 647 South Ave., celebrates its seventh anniversary (already?!) on Saturday, November 9, 6 p.m. to midnight. In addition to its usual stellar offerings, Solera will be pouring $1 glasses of sparkling wine all evening; call 232-3070 for more information, or visit solerawinebar.com.
Tuesday, November 19, at 7 p.m. The Owl House teams up with Joe Bean Coffee Roasters for their third pairing dinner, matching new American cuisine with carefully selected brews. The price is $35 for four courses; call 360-2920 to learn more, or visit owlhouserochester.com.
Change has come to the corner of Park and Berkeley: Piranha Sushi Bar is closed (owner/chef Nic Grammatico is now focusing on his South Wedge spot, Banzai), with Furoshiki Kitchen & Cocktails and its "Ramen Revolution" on deck at 682 Park Avenue. Meanwhile, on the opposite corner, Colie's Café has shut, and a burger bar called Blu Wolf Bistro is scheduled to debut November 22 at 657 Park Avenue.
Sai Gon Restaurant, now open at 2171 W. Henrietta Road in the space that once housed Portofino (and most recently Thai Time), is a solid addition to our city's growing number of Vietnamese eateries. The menu features warming bowls of pho and other soups, vermicelli and rice dishes, stir-fried noodles, light salads, appetizers, and bubble tea. A beer and wine license is in the works; call 730-8178 for more information.
Newly open at 716 E. Ridge Road in the former Six Pockets (and before that Beefsteak Mining Company, and before that Steak Stockade) is Blue Water Seafood and Steakhouse, serving — you guessed it — steak, seafood, chicken, chops, and all the trimmings. Call 286-9115 for details.
Devotees of Seabreeze's much-missed Churi's Ice Cream Parlor and Authentic Thai Cuisine will be happy to hear about the opening of Churi's Coconut Tree, now offering timeless Thai dishes at 1930 E. Ridge Road. Call 339-9299 to learn more.
Bar Louie recently opened in the Mall at Greece Ridge; the national chain describes itself as an "eclectic urban bar," which basically means it offers interesting cocktails and classy bar food like beer-braised mussels and truffle-butter popcorn. Don't believe me? Visit barlouieamerica.com. Or just visit the mall.
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to email@example.com.