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The Tavern at Gibbs offers laidback fare and downtown proximity 

Ken Ellingham describes himself as a laidback person and that is exactly the type of atmosphere he wants to create at his restaurant, The Tavern at Gibbs (58 University Avenue), which held its grand opening at the beginning of March. Ellingham has been cooking in and around the Rochester area for years and was looking for a space to open a place of his own. When Seven Seas Tavern closed, he jumped at the opportunity to take over the space.

click to enlarge The Tavern at Gibbs's Tavern Burger on a brioche bun with Yukon gold potato fries. - PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • The Tavern at Gibbs's Tavern Burger on a brioche bun with Yukon gold potato fries.

Ellingham is excited to be in a neighborhood so close to both The Auditorium Theatre and The Eastman Theatre and plans to have a chalkboard that will show what productions are playing around town. He's already met with his neighborhood association and plans to be an active part of the downtown revitalization. "I want to help the neighborhood develop -- I hope they want to help me develop," he says.

The menu at The Tavern at Gibbs is a mixture of casual fare -- like the Beer Cheese Soup ($7) made with Naked Dove Scotch Ale and served with soft pretzels -- and veers more high end with a 30-day dry aged Heritage Pork Chop ($32) that is paired with an apple raisin chutney and smashed red potatoes. The Tavern Steak Burger ($16) is a perfect example of where the casual and high end meet -- the burger is comprised of steak tail, brisket, and short rib, served on a brioche bun with a side of fries.

click to enlarge The Pan Roasted Artichoke Hearts are lightly battered and roasted, served with a garlic lemon-sherry creme. - PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • The Pan Roasted Artichoke Hearts are lightly battered and roasted, served with a garlic lemon-sherry creme.

General Manager Dan Horvath has created a bar program with the intent of freshening up the classic drinks. All juices are fresh-squeezed and well drinks will be made with higher end liquors for the same price. The beer program celebrates the local with offerings from Three Heads, Fifth Frame, and Naked Dove.

Brunch is on the horizon for after the Easter holiday and will be served on Saturday and Sunday. "I want to make food that you may not be able to make at home, but something you can see yourself eating at home," Ellingham says. He also wants to offer a family roast night where a whole roast will be brought to the table to be served family-style, along with all the fixings.

click to enlarge Heirloom Tomato Salad with fresh mozzarella, spring lettuces, radicchio, and a garlic-balsamic reduction. - PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • Heirloom Tomato Salad with fresh mozzarella, spring lettuces, radicchio, and a garlic-balsamic reduction.

"I want to be where Rochester is," Ellingham explains, "an inviting place that is really growing."

The Tavern at Gibbs (58 University Avenue) is open Tuesday through Thursday, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. 434-4195; tavernatgibbs.com.

Quick bites

Below is a list of some local Easter brunch options; make reservations early if required. All events take place Sunday, April 1.

The Inn on Broadway (26 Broadway) will host an Easter Buffet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Inn will take reservations for up to 20 people and reservations are required. Tickets are $39.95 per person and $19.95 for children under twelve years old. 232-3595; innonbroadway.com.

Temple Bar & Grille (109 East Avenue) will be offering a Sunday Funday Brunch from 12 to 4 p.m. $7.99 will get you an all-you-can-eat brunch, along with $2.99 Bloody Marys, Mimosas, and select draft beers. 232-6000; templebarandgrille.com.

Brown Hound Bistro (500 University Avenue) has extended seating until 4 p.m. for Easter Brunch. Reservations for smaller parties can be made online at brownhoundbistro.com; parties of six or more are encouraged to call the restaurant directly at 506-9725 to make a reservation.

Once you've spent time with your family and gorged yourself on the Peeps that no one else wants to eat, you can head over to Lux Lounge (666 South Avenue) for its annual Easter Egg Hunt starting at 11 p.m. lux666.com.

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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