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AJ’s adds a Cajun twist to steakhouse fare 

The Comedy Club in Webster has been hosting an impressive line-up of national comedy acts as of late, with recent performances from Tom Green, Andrew Dice Clay, and Marc Maron — in fact, Maron called The Comedy Club "the real deal" on his popular "WTF" podcast. AJ's Tap and Steakhouse (2235 Empire Boulevard) is connected to The Comedy Club in more than just the physical sense: the restaurant provides the food for the menu that The Comedy Club offers during shows, and it fully renovated the dining space, making it easier to get between both spaces.

Anthony Ottaviani and John Milliman purchased the business — formerly Daisy Duke's Bar and Grill — in March 2015 with the goal of building a full-service kitchen and providing classic American, steakhouse fare with a Cajun twist. That twist comes from Chef Josh Bickham, who trained with Bobby Flay in New York City before working in Rochester. Ottaviani grew up in Webster and started working in the service industry at 14 years old, right down the street from AJ's at the former Antonio's Restaurant. AJ's opened for business in September.

The menu features a variety of cuts of char-grilled steak, ranging from an eight-ounce strip-style sirloin ($19) to a 16-ounce ribeye ($27). The Cajun influence on the menu is realized in dishes like the Sausage and Clams ($18), made with grilled Andouille sausage, homemade Chorizo sausage, and little neck clams, served in a charred tomato broth with garlic toast. Chorizo also comes into play in the Chorizo Cornbread Stuffed Pork Chop ($19). A variety of starters, salads and sandwiches are also available as well as nightly specials like Taste of the Bayou Tuesday, featuring Cajun and Creole dishes.

AJ's has a full bar with 16 draft lines and a cocktail menu featuring a Filthy Martini with double the olive juice, and a blue cheese-stuffed olive. Live music is offered on Friday and Saturday nights. "We want our customers to be able to have a full experience here," Ottaviani says. "Have dinner, see a comedy show, and then enjoy some live music." Booking for private parties is also available.

AJ's Tap and Steakhouse is located at 2235 Empire Boulevard in Webster. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. with a late night menu available after 10 p.m. 671-4880; ajstapandsteakhouse.com.

Quick bites

Solera Wine Bar (647 South Avenue) will celebrate its ninth anniversary on Thursday, November 19, with dollar glasses of sparkling wine starting at 7 p.m. and live jazz.

Via Girasole Wine Bar (3 Schoen Place) will host a Flights and Bites with Cider Creek tasting event on Monday, November 23, at 6:30 p.m. The event pairs Cider Creek ciders with different foods from Via Girasole and Simply Crepes. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at squareup.com/market/via-girasole.

Restaurant 2 Vine (24 Winthrop Street) has released a new cocktail menu, a collaboration between 2 Vine's head chef and a Brooklyn-based cocktail consultant and mixologist. The new menu features cocktails like the Rosemary Fizz, made with Perry's Tot Navy Strength gin, rosemary, and lemon, and the Oaxaca Red Moon, made with mescal, blood orange, and pickled lime.

The Genesee Brew House (25 Cataract Street) will hold its annual Ugly Sweater Party on Thursday, December 10, from 5 to 9 p.m. Attendees will receive a free pint of beer with any new, unwrapped toy donation worth $5 or more. All toys will be donated to Toys for Tots. Prizes will be awarded for the ugliest sweater and live music will be provided by The Abominable Snowband.

Openings

Effortlessly Healthy (well-known as a food truck) has opened a brick and mortar location at 1921 South Avenue for dine-in and take-out.

Cheeburger Cheeburger (350 East Henrietta Road) has opened at City Gate.

Kirkpatrick's Irish Pub (37 Charlotte Street) and Brass Bar & Lounge (363 East Avenue) have opened in the East End.

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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