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Shema Sushi, Erie Grill, Mex and more

CHOW HOUND: Urban renewal 

Shema Sushi, Erie Grill, Mex and more

Shema Roll. PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN

Shema Roll. PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN

"I'd been looking for a spot in the South Wedge or Park Avenue," says Shema Sushi chef Su Holmes of her decision to move her popular eatery from the location on West Main Street in Webster that it had occupied since 2007. Shema recently opened the doors to its new home on Alexander Street's Restaurant Row, in the space formerly occupied by Gusto, and Holmes was pointing out to me a couple tables full of Webster-ites who trekked into the city to enjoy her food. "They've been waiting for four months!" Holmes said with a laugh. "They appreciate the freshness."

Decked out in vivid, welcoming hues of orange and brick, the open kitchen at Shema serves up what Holmes describes as "multicultural fusion," no doubt a byproduct of Holmes' Korea-to-Hawaii-to-Rochester path. Of course there's beautifully cut sushi and sashimi, along with nicely priced maki that opts for uncluttered flavors rather than embracing the current trend to cram too many ingredients into a roll and then charge big bucks for it. There are other well-prepared Japanese restaurant favorites as well, like gyoza, tempura, and udon noodle soups, with soba and ramen options.

But at Shema, co-owned by Holmes and her niece Dalim Kim, you'll also notice "the essence of Korean food," as Holmes calls it, apparent in dishes like fiery kimchi salad, the Meat Lover roll starring Korean BBQ beef, a satisfying mandoo soup with chicken-filled dumplings, and occasional daily specials like homestyle spicy pork. Shema's menu helpfully notes vegetarian-friendly selections, and that attention to little details is evidenced even in the wasabi, which gets piped onto the plate, resulting in a creamier texture that makes it easier to spread around. Oh, and save room for dessert.

Shema Sushi is located at 277 Alexander St. It is open Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m., and Saturday noon-10 p.m. Food prices range from $2 to $17. For more information, call 325-6555 or visit shemasushi.com.

This year's (re)model

Its lovely view of a particularly peaceful stretch of the canal remains unchanged, but the Erie Grill at the Del Monte Lodge is newly revamped, debuting its sleek, updated look earlier this month along with a reinvented menu. The descriptor "Contemporary American cuisine" gives executive chef John Freezee lots of delicious leeway as he draws upon this country's proverbial melting pot to incorporate a global palette of flavors for three meals a day, plus room service for guests of the Del Monte Lodge, which operates under Marriott's Renaissance brand.

Standouts on the dinner menu (read: some of the vittles I dug) include perfectly cooked bison sliders with smoky chipotle and cooling avocado, as well as an excellent dish of rabbit sausage, braised leeks, escarole, and wild mushrooms tossed with orecchiette, the pasta's little dents cradling a luscious dijon crème. Not to mention the addictive salty chips with housemade onion dip, a fitting nibble to accompany one of the Erie Grill's imaginative craft cocktails. (I adored my Volcano Moreno, in essence a bad-ass margarita.) And the beer and wine selections hail from both far away and very close to home. You can find the Erie Grill at 41 N. Main St. in Pittsford; call 419-3032, or visit eriegrill.com.

Extra Mayo

Hey! Got Cinco de Mayo plans yet? Keep in mind that Mex (295 Alexander St., 262-3060, mexrestaurant.com) will open at noon on May 5 for a rare Sunday, serving brunch — think steak and huevos rancheros; poblano, tofu, and potato frittata; and chipotle and chocolate-chip french toast — then snacks and dinner till 8 p.m. The bar is open until 2 a.m.; just don't forget that last time you went to work with a tequila hangover.

Use your bean

Joe Bean Coffee Roasters (1344 University Ave., 319-5279, joebeanroasters.com) continues its mission to educate Rochester about the mysteries of coffee with a couple of spring classes. Wednesdays through May 29, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., is "Espresso Techniques," in which participants learn how to pull shots and properly steam milk for lattes. (The fee is $25.) And on Thursday, May 2, at 7 p.m., Joe Bean's free cupping series focuses on the nuances attendant to the different coffee plants and varietals.

Cheese, please

The Little Bleu Cheese Shop (684 South Ave., 730-8296, littlebleucheese.com) celebrates National Grilled Cheese Month by pitting folks against each other in a heated battle to see who can create the best grilled-cheese sandwich. (The prize? Cheese!) The deadline for entries is April 30; get the details at the shop's Facebook page.

French connection

Rochester has not exactly been accommodating to devotees of classic French food lately, so listen up: from April 25 to May 11, Rooney's (90 Henrietta St.) will continue its tradition of hosting a guest chef from Lyon, France. Make your reservations by calling 442-0444 or visiting rooneysrestaurant.com.

Ch-ch-changes

Small World food collective recently moved into its larger new facility at 90 Canal St., one that will allow for retail space and class instruction. The Kickstarter campaign continues in hopes of funding dedicated gluten-free equipment; visit smallworldfood.com to learn more.

Gitsis, a Rochester institution at 600 Monroe Ave., has closed its doors and, after renovations, will reopen in May with a new menu and new hours as the Avenue Diner. Track the progress at Gitsis's Facebook page.

The Flour City Diner is no more; meet the Flower City Grill (2500 East Ave., 586-7730, flowercitygrill.com), now serving comfort-food favorites from morning till evening. But Jerry Manley fans should keep an eye out for the former FCD chef as he heads up the kitchen at Spencerport's Wylie Chayote's Fine Mexican Food & Cantina, opening in the coming weeks.

Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to food@rochester-citynews.com.

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