Empty nesters embrace their newfound freedom in different ways. Some take up golf. Some tackle the stock market. And when Kathy Christa's kids headed off to college, she immersed herself in the study of classical French pastry techniques. Now she's putting that education to delicious use as the pastry chef of her new restaurant, Fraîche Bistro & Dessert Bar, which recently opened in a portion of the Sagamore On East space that was formerly home to Henry B's.
"A French-inspired bistro with an American twist" is how Christa describes the elegantly appointed Fraîche, consisting of an airy white dining room with subtle rustic touches and an inviting bar area that provides additional seating. Chefs Andy Iserau and Eric Schmeelk handle the savory side of things at Fraîche, with Gallic classics like onion soup, tuna nicoise, and a lush chicken tarragon over housemade pasta vying for your attention with shepherd's pie, shrimp and tomato scampi, and seared scallops with bacon atop a pea risotto that tastes like springtime.
Now, while you're ordering at Fraîche, it may appear as though your server has suddenly decided to text someone. This is not because you are boring. Fraîche is actually in the Rochester vanguard of the latest point-of-sale technology, an iCloud-based system that operates via iPhones, iPods, and iPads. Your order is wirelessly transmitted to the kitchen, you settle the bill right at your table, and if you've popped in on a busy evening without a reservation, you can wander off for a bit and the system can contact you by phone when seating becomes available.
Fraîche's cocktails are bracing and inspired, going so far as to encompass a couple of "hard" milkshakes. (Current creations include Coffee & Donuts and Caramel Pretzel.) The pastries and muffins served at Sunday brunch allow Christa an opportunity to showcase talents that are also clearly on display at dessert in treats like tiramisu, ice cream sundaes, and an adorable blue velvet cake baked in a little Mason jar and gilded with a swirly tuft of cream-cheese frosting.
Fraîche Bistro & Dessert Bar is located at 130 East Ave. It is open Wednesday-Thursday 4:30-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 4:30 p.m.-midnight; and Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Food prices range from $6 to $30. For more information, call 319-4313 or visit fraiche-bistro.com.
Incidentally, Fraîche isn't the only new eatery in the Sagamore on East complex. There's also a downtown outpost of the Moe's Southwest Grill chain (moes.com), as well as Camarella's (130 East Ave., 563-7912, camarellas.com), a sunny breakfast-and-lunch spot by Dave Forstbauer and chef Bonnie Camarella. Freshly prepared soups, salads with housemade dressings, paninis (Italian roast beef with giardiniera... mmmm!), and wraps are on the extensive menu, along with egg sandwiches and customizable pasta dishes. And watch for evening hours, coming soon.
Happy 100th birthday to the historic landmark restaurant Hicks & McCarthy (23 S. Main St., Pittsford), which will mark its centennial on Saturday, April 6, from 2 p.m. to close by bringing back soda-fountain drinks and other retro items from Hicks & McCarthy menus of the past. Learn more at hicksandmccarthy.com, or call 586-0938.
Some goings-on next month at East Avenue's Ristorante Lucano. Monday, April 8, is Lucano's spring-themed wine dinner; the menu is under wraps, but it starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $90 per person, inclusive. And at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 26, is a wine and food tasting at the Specialty Shoppe next door, featuring five wines with paired food samples as well as a cooking demonstration by Lucano owner Chuck Formoso. Tickets are $25, but space for both events is limited, so call 244-3460 or visit ristorantelucano.com.
East Bethany's First Light Creamery has launched a dairy share for anyone interested in organic and artisanal milk, yogurt, and cheese, with convenient pick-up spots around Rochester. Learn about the different options at first-light-farm.com or call 297-7044.
Congratulations to our local winners in the Finger Lakes Foodie Awards. Rochester Public Market tied with Ithaca Farmers Market for Best Farmers Market; Best Microbrew went to ROC Brewing Co. for its What the Fuggle IPA; and Lento captured Best Use of Finger Lakes Ingredient in a Side Dish for its yummy duck-fat frites.
You've seen Flour City Pasta's wares all over town; now Jonathan Stadt and family have a retail outlet of their own, selling FCP's artisanal small-batch pasta, locally milled grains, and F. Oliver's oils and vinegars out of a charming space at 5 S. Main St. in Pittsford. The new shop, which features chalkboard art by Sarah Rutherford and beautiful reclaimed-wood shelving by Chuck Seaman and Chris Bonawitz, enables FCP to offer fresh and filled pastas as well. Visit flourcitypasta.com or call 223-1113.
Fairport now has a self-serve fro-yo shop to call its own. Meet Ken and Larry Cohen's Yummies Frozen Yogurt at 80 N, Main St., which also sells Gimme! coffee, teas, and cupcakes from Dolce. Call 598-4160 or visit yummiesfrozenyogurt.com.
The Mad Hatter Tea Room & Café is now open at 30 North Ave. in Webster, serving breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch, as well as an array of homemade baked goods. Twice-daily formal tea service is scheduled to begin in early April; call 545-4895 for more information, or visit the shop's Facebook page.
Benedetto's, an Italian restaurant that opened last August at 289 Alexander St., is closed. The staff has relocated across Ryan Alley to Benedetto's sister restaurant, ONE, which stopped serving dinner late last year but will now resume dinner service Thursday-Saturday. Additionally, ONE will honor Benedetto's gift certificates; call 546-1010 or visit oneryan.com.
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.