When I first heard about this restaurant, I thought it was an Asian-inspired eatery. However, I soon found out that couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, Good Luck is an open-kitchen restaurant in a cavernous loft-style space in a converted warehouse. The owners opened the restaurant with the belief that people need to be reintroduced to classic cocktails. Their cuisine is made from seasonal, local ingredients, some of which are grown in their own garden. The owners also run Cure, a casual gourmet restaurant at Rochester’s Public Market.
Only a small plaque outside the front entrance and a large, unmarked awning hint that a restaurant exists on this tiny side street in the city’s Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA). A proper sign would help new patrons find the place. Parking is free and plentiful, located across the street or down the street, requiring a short stroll. There are also a handful of on-street parking spots in front of the restaurant. Once you find the entrance, ascend a few concrete steps to discover this renovated loft space.
Good Luck is committed to promoting and serving, fresh, seasonal and local food. So much so that they use ingredients grown in their own garden, nestled in a 30-by-90-foot lot across the street from the eatery. A full array of produce and other edibles are available in their raised-bed garden.
Upon entering Good Luck, I immediately noticed the noise level, which was alarmingly loud. Then, I turned around to find the hostess stand, which was tucked away slightly behind the entrance. This restaurant featured a large bar and an open dining room, separated by a partial wall of wood and windows.
I heard that it could be a challenge to get reservations, but we didn’t have much trouble. One of my dinner companions made reservations earlier that day, although we had to adjust our timing to their schedule. Although we were seated immediately upon arriving, I was disappointed that our party of three was seated at a table barely within the perimeter of the dining area. As a result, I felt like we were only semi-welcomed there. The lighting in the dining area was adequate, but the bar area looked dark for such an early evening. I noticed an open door in the back of the bar. This back entrance opened to a impromptu-looking concrete seating area with a few plastic chairs, where some patrons (or workers on break?) were seated. Industrial apparatus was also visible, possibly a dumpster? It was an odd site from inside the trendy restaurant.
On this visit in mid-July, when the temperature outside climbed to around 90 degrees, fahrenheit, the temperature in the dining room continued to rise as the evening wore on. Even though the air conditioning was on “full blast,” our waitress explained that once the temperatures reached 80 degrees outside, it’s “impossible to keep this place cool.” Now I know why many of the staff were wearing skimpy outfits. I first inquired politely about the status of the seemingly absent air conditioning. Later, I more emphatically complained about it. For a restaurant which has been in business for 8 summers, I would expect that they would improve their cooling system for the comfort of their patrons. I noticed others fanning themselves and also appearing overheated. Near the end of our stay, the staff finally opened the large, loft-style windows along one side of the dining room, letting in a nice breeze.
Chefs Dan Martello and Brent Bailey created a small but mighty, single-page dinner menu featuring a handful of appetizers and salads, several entrees, a “Food to Share” section and a beverage section with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Because Good Luck features seasonal, local ingredients, the menu changes more often than most. Admittedly, I had hoped for more choices on the menu. Although most types of proteins were represented, I wanted more than one choice each of chicken, fish, beef, etc.
Menu starters included a few salads, greens, pickled blueberries and red lentils. Entrees ranged from lighter fare such White Pizza with Pickled Eggplant and Arugula ($14), Margherita Pizza ($13), Heirloom Tomato Confit with Basil Polenta ($16), and a Roasted Vegetable Sandwich on house made focaccia ($15) to pasta such as Saffron Buccatini ($21) and Goat Cheese Gnocchi ($19), to the more hearty Braised Oxtail with Tripe in a tomato sauce ($14), Roasted Salmon ($29), and Pan-roasted Duck Breast ($30).
The “Food to Share” section offered selections to be shared, including the semi-famous one pound Good Luck Burger with French Fries ($25), and the Twice-Cooked Chicken ($25), Grilled Rib-eye Steak ($62) and a selection of smoked meats ($26).
The Cocktail Menu was more diverse than most, offering several dozen signature cocktails, along with several varieties each of Manhattans, Negronis, and Old Fashioneds. The Wine Menu was also quite impressive, offering both red and white wines by the bottle and glass, organized by region. Good Luck has become locally known to have an extensive collection of hard to find, quality spirits for sipping or mixing.
We started our shared meal with an appetizer special of Zucchini Frittata, which was absolutely delicious. It included the zucchini flowers in the frittata batter. Buttery and flavorful, this thin, egg-based delight was light and airy, yet very satisfying. It was served with slices of toasted bread with herbed butter, which was the perfect accompaniment. My dinner companions each ordered a glass of wine from the extensive wine menu – the server was kind enough to encourage a taste before ordering the wine.
We followed the frittata with the famous Good Luck Burger ($25) to share among three of us. It was made with a full pound of ground, grass-fed beef on a brioche roll, with cheddar cheese, covered with french fries and accompanied by a vegetable slaw. I understand why everyone talks about this burger – it was truly delicious! Moist and flavorful, it satisfied my craving for a hearty meal. The brioche bread added a touch of class to a usually pedestrian sandwich. We each had a quarter of the burger and split the fourth quarter between us. Oh, those french fries – they were seasoned just right and not one was left when we were done. The house made mayo-based sauce served with this burger was a great compliment the dish.
We ordered two desserts to share; they were truly incredible! One was a Banana Creme Brulee Tart and the other was Corn Ice Cream. The Banana Creme Brulee is one of the best desserts I have had in a long time. I was honestly surprised that it was so good. We ordered it based on our server’s enthusiastic recommendation. One of my dining companions called it “the best dessert in town.” Three slices of carmelized bananas sat atop a wonderfully creamy and decadent vanilla crème brulee, all housed in a tender and flavorful tart crust. Yes, it was that good!
The three scoops of home-made Corn Ice Cream didn’t disappoint either. As promised by our server, it tasted like corn cereal. I was skeptical at first, but she was right. I likened the taste to corn flakes soaked in the milk in the bottom of the cereal bowl – oh so good, but in an ice cream! It was a refreshing follow-up to the rich crème brulee.
Good Luck is more than a great craft cocktail bar with an impressive menu. They also offer a variety of special events.
- Their Chef’s Table series encourages groups of 6-14 people to enjoy watching a private chef prepare a multi-course menu at a private table overlooking the open kitchen. Groups may choose from three themed menus, each with options for three, four or five courses, with or without wine pairings.
- Inspired Table Events include Garden Dinners and Field Trips.
– Garden Dinners are three course dinners served in the Good Luck Garden across the street from the restaurant, during Fridays and Saturdays in July, August and September. These family style meals include beer and wine pairings at a cost of $70 per person.
– Field Trips are occasional dinners held in interesting areas around town, featuring special menus, themes or events.
The service at Good Luck was generally pleasant and cheerful. We were politely welcomed and greeted by the hostess and seated immediately upon arriving on time for our reservation. Our server was knowledgeable, explaining the “shared dish” theme and providing her input when asked about menu items. Our food arrived in a timely fashion and our water glasses were continually refilled. Our server also graciously handled my grievances about the very warm dining area. Although there was little she could do to alleviate the poor ventilation, she did apologize for the inconvenience a few times, which I appreciated. The desserts were the highlight of our meal.
I thoroughly enjoyed the food at Good Luck. I would like to go back again when the seasonal menu changes, just to see what interesting offerings the talented chef creates. The service and food were great, but the dining room was loud and quite warm. If I do go back, I will be sure to go when the weather is cooler, when hopefully the dining room doesn’t feel as hot as the kitchen.
If You Go:
Restaurant Good Luck
50 Anderson Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
(located in the Anderson Arts Building in the Neighborhood of the Arts – NOTA)
Dinner hours: Wed-Sat dinner 5pm – 11pm, Fri-Sat late night menu till midnight.
Bar Hours: Wed-Sat: 4:30pm – 2 am
Cuisine: American and Italian dishes featuring fresh, seasonal food
Alcoholic Beverages: Beer and Wine
Children’s Menu: No
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes (back entrance)
Attire: casual dress to business attire
Requires Reservations: Highly Recommended, as far in advance as possible
Table Service: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Yes, but limited
Parking: Free and plentiful in adjacent lot, some street parking
Valet Service: No
Bar Seating: Yes
Coat Check: Yes
Date opened: 2008
Date visited: Friday, July 22, 2016 for dinner