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Controversy can’t overshadow the food at I-Square 

Whenever I-Square is mentioned at this point, most people can't help but start to parse through the web of politics that has surrounded the Irondequoit development over the last 2 months. Local journalists, including those from City, have done a comprehensive job covering the controversy and resignations. Unlike those news stories, I'd rather talk about what owner Mike Nolan and his team are trying to focus on: the food.

For those of you that haven't made the trip out to I-Square yet, it is located across the street from the House of Guitars, just off of Titus Avenue in the heart of Irondequoit. The building features six different concepts — i-scream (ice cream), Hong Kong One (Americanized Chinese), The Market Grill, Pasta Cucina (fast casual pasta), Stir Coffee (second wave style coffee), and the Reserve (a wine and beer bar) — focused around a food court with ample seating. My wife and I decided to focus our attention on The Market Grill and sampled from the other establishments to round out our visits.

The fare at The Market Grill covers well-traveled ground with a selection of burgers, sandwiches, and a decent variety of complementary dishes. With the understanding that this is a concept intended to be family-friendly, I still found elements that kept me intrigued throughout.

We first opted for the Bistro Burger ($12) which is topped with a fried egg, bacon, arugula, and a mustard spiked mayo. The patty was cooked appropriately to medium and had a modest crust, and I appreciated the texture and the smoke from the delightful bacon. This burger was above average, although I would have preferred the egg to still be runny.

We also tried the Veggie Stack ($8.50), which could have benefitted from a bit more consistency in the cooking of the eggplant and Portobello mushroom. The flavor combinations were sound as basil pesto and provolone anchored the sandwich along with red peppers and arugula to accent. But everything could have been amped up with a little more seasoning.

A quick aside: The Market Grill deserves praise for using Martusciello's hard rolls for many of its sandwiches, including the burgers. It is a hard roll in more than name; the roll has a solid crust that can stand up against powerful fillings. I am never sad to see them on a menu, and they made a noticeable difference here. It was most apparent on the breakfast sandwich with sausage ($7.50). Since the egg, sausage, and cheddar are all softer, the sturdiness of the roll helped bring the whole sandwich together. It's easy to recommend this for any time of day.

The Market Turkey ($9.50) is a good example of simple execution. Although not roasted in house, the turkey the business used had a fair bit of tooth to it, and the combination of creamy brie with the sweet, slightly spicy pepper jelly struck an interesting balance. Our Reuben ($10) was served on grilled rye and was a little typical, but it was accented nicely by a housemade sauerkraut.

Since all the concepts at I-Square operate under the same roof, we were able to grab a delectable IPA from The Reserve ($5 for a 16-ounce on draft) and an i-scream salted caramel milkshake ($5 for a portion that we could split) using Ithaca's Purity ice cream. As we were on our way out, we couldn't help but grab a couple kiddie size cups (one scoop for $2.50) to cap things off. The convenience factor of being able to pick and choose how to form your meal is a major appeal with this style of business.

On our last visit, we grabbed our food and made our way to the upper level of the building to sit in the remainder of the day's sun. I have to admit that it was the scandal that brought me to I-Square for the first time, but after having a satisfying meal and sitting on the rooftop to admire the sunset, the controversy was easy to forget.

You can read more from Chris Lindstrom or listen to his podcast on his food blog, Foodabouttown.com. Share any dining tips with him on Twitter and Instagram @stromie.

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