Event Review: 13th Annual Empty Bowls Fundraiser

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Event Name: 13th Annual Empty Bowls Fundraising Event
Purpose:        Raise awareness and funds to address local homelessness and hunger
Hosts:             Catholic Family Center of Rochester, NY  
Location:       Eastman Kodak Theater on the Ridge, Rochester, NY
When:             Thursday, October 20, 2016, 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Cost:               $30 in advance, $40 at the door
Website:         https://www.cfcrochester.org/events/

I attended this event as a volunteer, to meet a requirement for my Event Planning class. The assignment required that I spend a minimum of two hours volunteering for a special event, and then submit a report detailing my observations, including a review of the menu, location, staffing, preparation/planning and overall experience. In addition I was tasked with discussing suggestions for improving the event, what was done especially well and what I gained from the experience.  Shown below are the highlights of my report. 

Event Overview

Empty Bowls is a fundraising event aimed at raising awareness and funds to fight homelessness and hunger in towns and cities across the nation. In its 13th year, the Rochester event is going strong.  Guests purchase a ticket to enjoy a simple but delicious supper of bread and soup, as well as desserts, live music and a silent auction. Area artists donate small bowls and original works of art to the cause. During the event, each guest picks a bowl to keep and can bid on the art work, if desired. This year’s event boasted close to 600 guests.

Venue

Easel Board at Registration Table, 13th Annual Empty Bowls
Easel Board at Registration Table, 13th Annual Empty Bowls, Photo Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

The venue for this event was the Eastman Kodak Theatre on the Ridge, in the upstairs cafeteria.  This was a new location for the event, as they had outgrown the capacity of previous locations.

Parking was free and plentiful in a well-lit, adjacent lot.  I was pleased that two off-duty police officers were hired to aid guests with crossing the busy road on the dark and rainy night of the event.

The registration table was placed in the first floor lobby, directly across from the main entrance. This provided a convenient welcome area for guests to pick up or purchase tickets before being directed to the upstairs cafeteria, which was accessible by both an elevator and an escalator.

The 1100-seat cafeteria was spacious – cavernous actually. It was a good fit for the event, however, because of the available kitchen and cafeteria style service set-up.  Upon arriving two hours before the event start, I noticed that the space was truly a blank canvass, with bare white walls, high ceilings and lots of stainless steel and glass fixtures.  However, by the time the event started, staff and volunteers had miraculously transformed the space into a warm and casual, yet welcoming venue.

Food and Beverages

The menu was simple, but delicious and appropriate for the event.  The menu featured 15 hot soups from area restaurants and caterers, including.

  • Black Bean Pumpkin Bisque
  • Cream of Mushroom
  • Buffalo Chicken
  • Meatball Minestrone
  • Butternut Squash
  • Rajun Cajun
  • Pasta Faggioli
  • Creamy Tomato
  • Basil Bisque with Smoked Gouda
  • Italian Wedding
  • Autumn Harvest
  • French Onion
  • Cream of Chicken with Wild Rice
  • Autumn Bisque
  • Highland Cheddar Ale

Other items on the menu included fresh sliced baguette bread, packaged butter pats, and trays of assorted cold vegetables with dip. The brochure also mentioned tossed green salad, although I didn’t see that available to guests.

in-soup-line
Soup Service Line, Photo Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella
Coffee and Tea Self-service, Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella
Coffee and Tea Self-service Cart, Photo Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteers were encouraged to partake of the menu items after completing our assignments; I though that was a gracious offer. I tried three of the soups: Autumn Bisque, Black Bean Pumpkin Bisque, and Cream of Chicken with Wild Rice. I expected simple broths, yet these soups were much more than that.  My favorite was the Autumn Bisque – it was creamy, hearty and satisfying.  Filled with tastes of fall, this bisque had a unique squash taste that brought back memories of Thanksgivings past. The Cream of Chicken soup was rich and tasty as well.  The Black Bean Pumpkin Bisque was not what I expected, but still a nice treat.  It was thicker than most bisques though, bordering on a stew. I especially liked that many of the soups featured a fall theme, which fit perfectly with the time of year and the décor. The bread was fresh and soft; a great accompaniment to hot soup and perfect for dipping into the thicker soups and bisques, or topping with butter.

Dessert: Custard with cookie cigars, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Dessert: Custard with cookie cigars and chocolate chips, Photo Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

Let’s talk about the luscious desserts.  The event coordinator explained to the volunteers that the desserts were to be served to each table this year, to avoid last year’s dessert table stampede.  That piqued my interest – what was so great about the desserts that they had to be cautiously served?

First, the variety of desserts was impressive. They ranged from custard with cookie cigars,  and pudding, to brownies, and a myriad of cookie options.

Second, the desserts were phenomenal – admittedly, I tried most of them and can attest that none disappointed! Before the servers could even walk a few steps, they were stopped by guests who wanted two or three of each one.

Coffee and Tea Self-service, Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella
Coffee and Tea Self-service, Photo Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella

In addition, guests were treated to self-serve coffee, tea and water via a quaint, free-standing beverage cart.

Décor

A fall theme dominated the décor for this event. For the first few hours of my volunteer experience, I was tasked with creating 40+ fall-themed table centerpieces, using a variety of real and manufactured décor items.  As resources were scarce, I was instructed to make the centerpieces simple, yet attractive.  Shown below are a sampling of my centerpiece creations.

Table Centerpieces waiting to be placed on tables, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Table Centerpieces waiting to be placed on tables, Photo Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

In addition, the “Empty Bowls” theme carried through the event via logo tablecloths and logo aprons worn by the staff and volunteers.

Entertainment

Musical Entertainment, Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella
Musical Entertainment, Photo Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella

A four-person band entertained guests throughout the evening, with live music and song. Unfortunately, the band was not identified in the event marketing materials or within the event.  I enjoyed their sets of music and think that they provided nice background music within the rather noisy space.

 

Silent Auction

The Silent Auction was the breakout star of this event.  Area artists donated small bowls, original works of art, retail items and a few antiques, making this auction one of the most diverse I have ever seen.  Several dozen items were available for bidding via bid sheets placed next to each item. Bidders wrote in their bids and then waited to see if anyone wrote in another bid – this led to some obvious malingering (stalking?) as several persistent bidders offered a series of increasingly higher bids, in hopes of winning their favorite item. Staggered bid closing times among the tables helped keep the auction moving along.

Table of donated bowls for silent auction, Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella
Table of donated bowls for silent auction, Photo Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella
Silent Auction, Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella
Silent Auction – table of donated items, Photo Courtesy: Andrea Montanarella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silent Auction - Gift Basket, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Silent Auction – Gift Basket, Photo Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Silent Auction, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Silent Auction – Garment, Photo Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another part of my volunteer experience was to assist with the silent auction by ensuring that guests did not pick up or handle the action items. This was a very difficult job because most bidders wanted to touch the items. However, I did enjoy watching bidders try to outbid each other with written bids – a little bidding competition certainly makes for great fundraising.

Overall Experience

I really enjoyed this experience, both as a volunteer and as a guest.

Part of my Event Planning class paper included an analysis of what was done especially well, suggestions for improving the event and what I gained from the experience.

The CFC team did a great job with this event, doing many things quite well, such as:

  • Offering hundreds of ceramic bowls – as I helped unpack the donated bowls, I was surprised by the sheer number of them.  In addition to choosing a bowl to take home as part of the admission price, guests could also purchase additional bowls for a $20 donation.  Guests certainly had a staggering variety of bowls from which to choose; a friend chose a dog bowl, for example.
  • Tasty soup – the soup was tasty, hot and plentiful (in amount and number of choices).
  • Excellent service – all of the volunteers were kind, courteous, helpful and efficient.  A spirit of helpfulness and generosity pervaded the event.

Although the event was a huge success, I have the following suggestions for making it even better next year:

  • Identify the band – they were integral to setting the tone of the event, yet I did not see them listed in the brochure and there was no signage to identify them.
  • Promotional videos – place small screens throughout the venue, showing a video about CFC and what they do.  With this, CFC can inform guests about their services.
  • Recipe book – compile the soup recipes into a simple recipe book and offer it for sale at the event.  A friend who attended the event suggested this idea to one of the organizers and it was well received. The only catch, she was told, is that some of the restaurants/caterers may not want to divulge their secret recipes.
  • Amp up the event description – the event was advertised as simple supper, yet the meal really was quite hearty. I suggest repositioning the advertising to show the event as simple, but the supper as hearty and satisfying.

In addition to the warm feeling of being helpful to others, I also learned the following about the job of an event planner:

  • Be ready to do whatever is needed.
  • Start earlier than planned because most tasks will take longer than you think.
  • Make do with what you have because there seldom are funds to acquire more resources – reuse and recycle.
  • Please and thank you (and a sincere attitude) go a long way

I am already looking forward to attending next year’s event!

***

Event Review: Second Annual Webster Garlic Festival 2016 (Webster, NY)

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Event Name:  Webster Garlic Festival
Purpose:        Webster Miracle Field: an adaptive field for athletes with developmental and physical challenges. Rochester Beep Baseball.

Hosts:             Webster Kiwanas, Webster Lyons, Webster Rotary    
Location:       Webster Parks and Recreation 1350 Chiyoda Dr,  Webster, NY  
When:             September 10 and 11, 2016 (Sat: 10am-6pm, Sun: 10am-5pm)
Cost:               Adults: $5, Children under 16 free
Website:         www.webstergarlicfestival.com

Event Overview

This second annual, two-day event celebrates everything garlic, with over 80 indoor and outdoor booths featuring garlic vendors, arts and craft vendors, and garlic-infused food products, as well as food and beverage vendors, musical entertainment and cooking demonstrations.   If it’s related to garlic, you’ll find it here.  This is a fun community event which not only celebrates all things garlic, but also supports the community through donations to initiatives such as Miracle Field, an adaptive sports filed for athletes with developmental and physical challenges.

Venue

Moved from its inaugural location, this year’s event took place at the Webster Recreation Center in Webster, NY.  The recreation center was a great venue for this event, as it allowed for both indoor and outdoor vendors, as well as an indoor space for cooking demonstrations.  With the majority of vendors inside, they were well positioned in case of a washed out weekend.

Parking was plentiful, in a large lot across the street from the venue.  Organizers provided a school bus to transport attendees from the parking area to the front door of the recreation center, and back again. Although it wasn’t that far of a walk, that was a nice convenience.

All About Garlic

There was no shortage of garlic here.  Over 15 farmers and growers displayed their bounty in booths both indoors and outdoors. I was surprised that there was such a plethora of garlic growers in our area in Western New York State. There was bulk garlic and bags of garlic, baskets of garlic and bushels of garlic.  At one vendor booth (photo below), half-pound bags of garlic sold for $7.50 each.

Bags of garlic for sale, courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 – Bags of Garlic for Sale, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 - Bulk Garlic for Sale, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 – Braided Bulk Garlic for Sale, Courtesy: http://www.webstergarlicfestival.com
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 - Garlic for Sale, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 – Garlic for Sale, Courtesy: http://www.webstergarlicfestival.com

As we wandered through the booths, both indoors and outdoors, I noticed that there were so many different types of garlic. This was news to me, as I had only every heard of a few varieties.  I did some research (www.rodalesorganiclife.com) and learned that there are two main types of garlic – hardneck and softneck.

Hardneck Garlic - fewer cloves, no central stalk, Courtesy: Mother Earth News via www.food-hacks.com
Hardneck Garlic – fewer cloves, no central stalk, Courtesy: Mother Earth News via http://www.food-hacks.wonderhowto.com

Hardneck Garlic: This type of garlic requires a little more finesse and attention than the softneck variety. However, it is colorful, offers a variety of flavors, and produces a flower stalk or scape, which is great for cooking.  Hardneck garlic also has a hard, woody central stalk and 4-12 cloves in each bulb. This is the type of garlic most often found in grocery stores. It is most popular in the Northeast and Midwest areas of the USA and in Canada. Purple Stripe, Porcelain, and Rocambole are all types of hardneck garlic.

Softneck Garlic - more cloves and a central stalk, Courtesy: Mother Earth News
Softneck Garlic – more cloves and a central stalk, Courtesy: Mother Earth News via http://www.food-hacks.wonderhowto.com

Softneck Garlic:  This type of garlic does well in a range of climates, keeps longer in storage,  matures faster, and is more productive than the hardneck variety. Also, its cloves are easier to peel, and its stems are easier to braid.  This type of garlic is most often found on the West Coast and Southern areas of the USA.  Artichoke and Silverskin are types are softneck garlic.

The festival brochure included the following information about garlic, which I found interesting and wanted to share with you:

“Garlic is a flowering herb commonly grown for its edible bulb, which is divided into smaller sections called cloves. Garlic cloves can be consumed or used as seed to propagate more garlic. It must be planted during the fall, as the cloves must be chilled for several weeks before they will germinate and grow in the spring. Garlic requires little care to grow, and will produce large, flavorful bulbs the summer following planting.”

Garlic Cooking Demonstrations

In addition to looking at garlic and smelling garlic, we also had the opportunity to taste cooked garlic.  This festival featured cooking demonstration and tastings hourly, throughout the day. My friend and I attended two of them; one for Bruschetta Garlic Bread with Mozzarella and the other for Garlic Scape Pasta.

Garlic Bruschetta with Mozzarella, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 – Garlic Bruschetta with Mozzarella, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

The Bruschetta Garlic Bread with Mozzarella recipe demonstration was simple, but the taste was complex. Chef Austin from Wegmans Food Markets demonstrated this recipe.

He first combined fresh garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper, to make a paste and then he spread in on toasted garlic bread.  He then topped that with thin slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes, with arugula on top.  Finally, he drizzled balsamic vinegar over the top. It was delicious and so easy!

Another cooking demonstration featured Garlic Scape Pasta, which uses the scapes (green stalk growing from the garlic above ground) as a featured part of the dish. Karen Collins of Webster, NY demonstrated this recipe.  She combined cooked pasta with a mixture of sautéed garlic scapes sautéed in oil, with wine and tomatoes.  It was a hearty dish and quite tasty. However, I most likely would skip the tomatoes and serve this dish with olive oil and maybe white beans.

Although I didn’t attend the third demonstration, Karen Collins also demonstrated a recipe for Garlic Scape Pesto. The recipe called for combining the following in a food processor and processing until smooth:  1 cup garlic scapes (cut into 1/4″ pieces), 1/3 cup walnuts, 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp. salt and a pinch of black pepper.  This pesto would be great on sliced baguette bread or over cooked pasta or roasted vegetables.

Vendors: Food, Beverages, Arts, Crafts and Specialty Items

With more than 40 vendors offering arts, crafts and specialty items, there was a lot to see. Specialty food vendors included those selling oils, vinegars, snacks, mustards, honey and maple products. Specialty craft vendors (not garlic-themed) included those selling candles, soaps, baskets, jewelry, greeting cards and pottery. There were also a few home-party vendors such as Tastefully Simple and Pampered Chef.

Webster Garlic Festival 2016 - Outdoor Booths, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 – Outdoor Booths, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 - Indoor Booths, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 – Indoor Booths, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 - Indoor Booths, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Webster Garlic Festival 2016 – Indoor Booths, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamburger purchased at the 2016 Webster Garlic Festival, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Hamburger purchased at the 2016 Webster Garlic Festival, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

 

Over ten food and beverage vendors, offered an adequate variety of lunch options, including grilled foods, sweets, kettle corn, custard and more.  I opted for an old favorite – a hamburger.  It was fine, but admittedly, my friend ordered a cheeseburger from a competitor food truck and hers looked better than mine. I was surprised, though, that there weren’t more garlic-themed foods to buy for lunch.

I saw in the festival brochure that there were also a few Garlic Garden Presentations, but I didn’t see when or where they were being offered. However, my friend and I chatted briefly with a seasoned farmer about growing garlic indoors. I want to try growing it in a pot inside my home.  Although there was a bit of a language barrier, I learned that I should plant one garlic clove per small hole and keep it moist throughout the winter.  I can plant them relatively close together (within a few inches) and don’t have to keep the pot covered. If I decide to try this, I’ll keep you informed of my progress.

Entertainment

If purchasing garlic, watching garlic cooking demonstrations and perusing craft vendors isn’t your thing, how about some entertainment? At the Webster Garlic Festival, attendees were treated to several bands playing in a tented area, amid picnic tables. Bands included  Vintage, Doghouse and Industrial Blues Band.  In addition, hourly prize drawings and a human mascot in a furry costume might also have kept you amused.

Packie the Alpaca from Lazy Acre Farms at the 2016 Webster Garlic Festival, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Packie the Alpaca from Lazy Acre Farms at the 2016 Webster Garlic Festival, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

One of the highlights was meeting “Packie” the Alpaca from Lazy Acre Farms. Packie didn’t have much to say, but he sure was cute, and a hit with the kids. Located in a penned-in area at the end of the vendor rows outdoors, Packie enjoyed the sunshine and casts of shade on his/her (?) face.

Overall Experience

I enjoyed my first trip to the Webster Garlic Festival. I liked that it was small enough to see everything in a few hours (or less), yet large enough to have something for everyone. Also, I liked visiting booths both inside and outside; even with the very warm weather, we enjoyed a strong breeze off the lake.  The venue was large enough to handle parking needs, and the availability of a free shuttle was a nice touch. For those who don’t love garlic, there were other craft vendors as well.

While the variety of garlic vendors was impressive (bulk garlic an pre-made condiments, etc.), I was disappointed that there weren’t many cooked garlic foods for sale from the food trucks.   I also would like to see more cooking demonstrations next year – that was the best part for me!

As this festival grows (this is only the second year), I imagine that they will continue to expand their offerings, and continue to help local charities in the process.

Sources: http://www.webstergarlicfestival.com, http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com, Mother Earth News via http://www.food-hacks.wonderhowto.com

***

Restaurant Review: Bristol Harbour Lodge and Golf Club (Canandaigua, NY)

cJjwLKDj_400x400You might know that Bristol Harbour is a golf club and a lodge, but did you know that they also have several dining venues within the resort? In addition to a casual eatery with a few gifts and trinkets available for purchase, they also feature a full-service dining room with both indoor and outdoor seating.  The spectacular views from the covered, outdoor patio will take your breath away.

Owners Todd and Laura Cook, purchased the resort for $9.6 million in January, 2016.  It includes an 18-hole championship golf course and marina, a 31-room hotel, a full-service restaurant and banquet facilities.  Since purchasing the property, they made widespread changes in staffing and completed a myriad of improvements to the facilities, in hopes of regaining the quality reputation the Ontario-county resort once enjoyed. I have visited the property twice – this review focuses on a Saturday afternoon visit for lunch in mid-July.

Surroundings

Located southeast of Rochester in Canandaigua, New York, Bristol Harbour is nestled in Bristol Hills.  Away from both the busy city and small town responsibilities, this gem is a hidden sanctuary for those who want to get away, but not too far away.  A substantial but not overly grand sign adorns the driveway entrance to this resort.  Visitors are treated to plenty of free and accessible parking,  just steps from the front door. The lodge is flanked by beautiful surroundings, with quaint cottages on one side and rolling golf-course greens on the other side.

Bristol Harbour Lodge, Courtesy: Bristol Harbour Laodge Facebook page
Bristol Harbour Lodge, Courtesy: Bristol Harbour Lodge Facebook page

I noticed a few golfers crossing the parking lot in their golf carts, as well as a few staff tending to golfers’ needs. There was no sign of valet parking, but I don’t think it was needed with such convenient spots available. The course didn’t look crowded, but that was no surprise in light of the 90+ degree day.

We parked and walked up to the lodge, built of wood with a history, no doubt. The entrance was outfitted with a long and narrow wooden roof with open sides, inviting visitors to come in.

Atmosphere

Upon entering the Bristol Harbour Lodge and Golf Club through two large sets of double doors, I noticed a small front desk to the left for check in/out, a small, casual eatery to the right, and the main restaurant straight ahead.  I liked the cultured yet informal feel of this lodge.  We were led through the dark indoor section of the restaurant through a set of glass doors, to get to the dining section on the terrace. With capacity for up to 80 people, this seating area was large and roomy. Although covered from direct sunlight and open to beautiful breezes, the heat of the day wafted through this open dining space. This outdoor space, and the adjacent Bristol Room, are perfect for celebrations, with a magnificent view of beautiful Canandaigua Lake.

Bristol Harbour View from Patio, overlooking wedding arch, Courtesy: Bristol Harbour Facebook page
Bristol Harbour View from Patio, Overlooking Wedding Arch, Courtesy: Bristol Harbour Facebook page
View from Bristol Harbour Outdoor Dining Patio, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
View from Bristol Harbour Outdoor Dining Patio, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

Considered not only a golf resort, but also a place for special celebrations, we noticed a large group celebrating a birthday, while staff readied the adjoining room for a wedding. What appeared to be a golf foursome enjoyed lunch after their round.

Bristol Harbour Wedding Space, Courtesy: Bristol Harbour Facebook page
Bristol Harbour Outdoor Wedding Venue, Courtesy: Bristol Harbour Facebook page

From inside the terrace, you can see the gazebo.  Rows of white chairs awaited guests who would soon celebrate the bride and groom’s special day.  Look at that view – what a great venue!

The photo below is a snip from the live camera feed on the Bristol Harbour web site.  They describe it as follows:

“The camera overlooks Canandaigua Lake and the back lawn area of our property. This is the view guests will see when dining in our restaurant, during meetings hosted at Bristol Harbour, and during weddings and special events.”

Bristol Harbour Back Lawn View, Courtesy: www.bristolharbour.com/camera
Bristol Harbour Back Lawn View, Courtesy: http://www.bristolharbour.com/camera
Bristol Harbour Path to Gazebo, Courtesy: www.bristolharbour.com
Bristol Harbour Path to Gazebo, Courtesy: http://www.bristolharbour.com

Menu

The Bristol Harbour restaurant offers separate menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and wine. On this visit, we chose from the Lunch Menu, which featured soups, salads, deli sandwiches, wraps and a few hot “classics.”  Salads ranged from $7-$13, with the option to add chicken (+$7), salmon (+$9) or shrimp (+$9).  Variations included a Lodge Garden Salad, Wedge Salad, Roasted Beet Salad, Caesar Salad, Kale Salad and Cobb Salad.  Patrons can choose from a bowl ($5) or cup ($3) of the Soup of the Day or choose Lobster Bisque ($5 cup, $9 bowl) or French Onion Soup ($8 crock).  On this visit, the Soup of the Day was a White Bean and Tomato broth-based soup.

The lunch menu also featured a “Make Your Own” deli sandwich section, where you customize your sandwich with the meat, cheese, vegetables, sauce/condiments, and bread of your choice.  Variations included a Full Sandwich with choice of side ($9.50) or a Half Sandwich with a choice of either salad or soup ($9.50).  Other menu options included a variety of sandwiches and wraps, ranging in price from $10-$13, and served with chips or French fries.  I was happy to see that they also offered gluten-free bread, rolls and wraps.

I noted that the Breakfast Menu included a range of items from a-la-carte choices ($2.25 – $7.50 each) to plates, sandwiches and omelettes ($8-$16). The Dinner Menu was much more extensive (and expensive) and included soups, starters and tavern fare similar to the lunch menu, as well as entrees ranging in price from $20-$36, such as Filet Mignon, Strip Steak, Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops, Grilled Pork Chop, Pan Seared Chicken Breast.  The Dessert Menu included a selection of classics such as Creme Brulee, Chocolate Torte, Sundae, and Cheesecake, as well as specialty coffees and swanky after dinner drinks. The Wine Menu offered a dozen or so each of red and white wines by the glass or bottle, ranging from $6.50 per glass-$45 per bottle.

Food

A nice salad seemed like a great way to start this Saturday afternoon lunch. I ordered a Lodge Salad with my meal, but the waitress kindly advised that I could get a smaller side salad if desired, rather than ordering a full-size salad as a side. I thought that was a nice suggestion, so I ordered a Side Salad ($3.50) to accompany the Turkey Ciabatta Sandwich ($11).

Bristol Harbour Side Salad, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Bristol Harbour Side Salad, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

The Side Salad was fresh and cold, just how I like my salads.  It was served with a variety of vegetables including romaine lettuce, cucumber wedges, sliced black olives, halved cherry tomatoes, slices of red onions and sliced mushrooms.  The only missing vegetable was a pepperoncini, but that is a forgivable offense.  The Italian dressing was tasty and not overly seasoned.  All in all, it was a pleasing side salad.

My Turkey Ciabatta Sandwich came with a side of French Fries and a fancy, white mini-bowl of ketchup. This was one of the more hearty sandwiches on the limited lunch menu.  It was served on a fresh ciabatta roll with sliced deli turkey, provolone cheese, crispy prosciutto, roasted red pepper pesto, and a slice of tomato and some lettuce (more for color than taste).  Foil-tipped tooth picks held it all together – yet another fancy touch.

Bristol Harbour Turkey Ciabatta Sandwich, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Bristol Harbour Turkey Ciabatta Sandwich, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

My turkey sandwich tasted great. The ciabatta roll was rustic, yet tasty. I liked the crunch and texture it added.  I also liked that the provolone cheese melted nicely over the turkey and prosciutto.  The roasted rep pepper pesto was a wonderful addition, not too overpowering as I thought it could be. This sandwich was larger and more hearty than I expected and required a fork and knife to eat.   The chef did a great job with preparing the crispy, yet light French fries – they were just right.

My lunch companion ordered a Turkey Reuben ($10), requesting a substitution of turkey for the usual Corned Beef; our server graciously accommodated the request. Like my sandwich, hers was also served with large French fries and a fancy mini-bowl of ketchup on the side. Hers however, lacked the swanky toothpicks that mine had.  This sandwich was served hot, on grilled rye bread with sliced deli turkey and Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing.

Bristol Harbour Corned Beef Reuben, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Bristol Harbour Corned Beef Reuben, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

She commented that she really liked the taste of this sandwich and that the ratio of sauerkraut to meat was perfect. Although it tasted good, she remarked that the turkey was sliced deli meat, and not carved turkey breast which she was expecting. After she said that, I realized that my sandwich also consisted of deli meat.  I agreed that a higher quality, carved turkey would have been more in line with the lofty reputation and ample prices of this restaurant. She also very much enjoyed the French fries.  We agreed that they were cooked just right, with a little crunch on the outside and creamy on the inside, and just the right golden color.

Service

I was happy with the courteous, friendly and accommodating service we received at Bristol Harbour. The hostess greeted us warmly and inquired about our seating preference.  Once seated, our server quickly arrived, introduced herself and took our drink order. She returned with our drinks to take our lunch order, also telling us about the soup of the day. She was knowledgeable about menu items and she graciously accommodated menu substitutions. I liked that she checked back on us throughout our meal and kindly provided separate checks. Speaking of checks – note that Bristol Harbour is a cashless venue, accepting only credit cards. There are reminders of this sprinkled throughout the menu, posted on various signage, and the website, although our server didn’t mention it specifically.

Overall Experience

This was my second visit to Bristol Harbour.  I visited for dinner a few years ago, before the new owners took over. While that visit was somewhat disappointing due to a lack of staff during a busy Saturday night, this visit was much more enjoyable.  Our lunch was tasty, (although not exceptional) and the service was quite nice.  It’s the view that really impressed me though. From the covered outside patio, you can enjoy your meal while gazing down the rolling hills and across the water for miles. If the weather is even the least bit cooperative, I urge you to sit outside to enjoy the sweeping views of this beautiful venue.  Bring your credit card though, because as mentioned, they are a cashless venue.

If You Go…

Bristol Harbour Lodge and Golf Club
5410 Seneca Point Road
Canandaigua, NY 14424
(located inside the Bristol Harbour Lodge and Golf Club)
Phone: 585-396-2200
Website: https://www.bristolharbour.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BristolHarbourLodgeGolfClub/
Instagram:  bh_resort
Twitter:  @BristolHarbourLodgeGolfClub, @BHarbourResort

Details:
Restaurant hours:

  • BreakfastMon-Fri: 7am–11am (8am–11am, Oct 27–Apr 19th), Sat & Sun: 7am-11am
  • Lunch: Mon-Sat: 11am–5pm, Sun: 11am–4pm
  • Dinner: Mon-Thurs: 5pm–9pm, Fri-Sat: 5pm–10pm, Sun: 4pm–9pm

Cuisine:                          American
Alcoholic Beverages:   Yes
Children’s Menu:         No
Accepts Credit Cards:  Yes (CASHLESS VENUE)
Handicap Accessible:  Yes
Attire: golf course appropriate, casual
Requires Reservations: Accepted but not required
Table Service:               Yes
Outdoor Seating:         Yes
Parking:  Free and plentiful in private lot
Valet Service:              No
Bar Seating:                Yes
Coat Check:                 Yes
Date opened: January, 2016 under new ownership
Date visited:  Saturday, August 13, 2016 for lunch

***

Restaurant Review: Restaurant Good Luck (Rochester, NY)

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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.

Surroundings

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.

Atmosphere

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.

Good Luck Restaurant Dining Room, Courtesy: Good Luck Restaurant Facebook page
Good Luck Restaurant Dining Room, Courtesy: Good Luck Restaurant Facebook page

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.

Menu

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.

Food

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.

Good Luck Burger, Courtesy: Good Luck Facebook page
Good Luck Burger, Courtesy: Good Luck Facebook page

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.

Good Luck Banana Creme Bruele Tart, Courtesy: Sharon Garofanello Facebook page
Good Luck Banana Creme Brulee Tart, Courtesy: Sharon Garofanello

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.

Special Events

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.

Service

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.

Overall Experience

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)
Phone: 585-340-6161
Website: http://www.restaurantgoodluck.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoodLuckRochester
Instagram: restaurantgoodluck
Twitter: @goodluckrochester
Email: events@restaurantgoodluck.com

Details:
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

***

Restaurant Review: Olives Greek Taverna (Pittsford, NY)

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I love the idea of eating outdoors, but in Western, NY we don’t get that chance as often as we would like. That’s why I like to take advantage of al fresco dining when possible.  A local greek restaurant, Olives Greek Taverna, has a pretty outdoor seating area, in a mixed retail space called Schoen Place in Pittsford, NY.  Although they have been in business since 1998, the outdoor patio seating is relatively new. Owners Nick and Gayle Mourgides definitely know how to prepare delicious and authentic Greek dishes.  I have visited this eatery for dinner many times and I have always enjoyed their food. Finally, I decided to write a review to share the experience with all of you.

Surroundings

Nestled in the front corner of a parking lot directly across the street from the banks of the Erie Canal, Olives Greek Taverna is a bit hidden, but not forgotten.  This area has experienced a resurgence in the past several years, due to the opening of new restaurants and retail establishments.  Each summer, as the weather turns warm and ducks eagerly await treats of bread from visitors, this canal-side gathering place comes alive.

A variety of parking areas surround the restaurant, but it shares the available spaces with several other nearby restaurants and retail establishments. On a warm summer evening, it can be difficult to find a parking space, so be sure to allow extra time to find a spot in the somewhat rough and rolling lot.

Olives Greek Taverna street view, Courtesy: www.olives.com
Olives Greek Taverna street view, Courtesy: http://www.olivespittsford.com seating

Atmosphere

Usually very crowded on a Friday evening in the summer, we were surprised to get a table on the patio, with no wait. Perhaps the overcast skies kept al fresco diners away, but not us! The outside patio offered a casual, yet quaint dining area, decorated with the colors of rich greens and warm earth tones. It is surrounded by low brick walls and features wrought iron tables and chairs, topped with large green umbrellas.  Although situated very close to the entrance road into the parking lot, it still felt safe and offered a nice breeze.

Olives Outdoor Seating, Courtesy: www.foodmingleblog.com
Olives Greek Taverna Outdoor Seating, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

The noise level can be a distraction, due to the restaurant’s location across from a larger eatery, which often has music escaping from its front doors and offers its own outdoor space around the back.  Unlike it’s more trendy neighbor, Olives Greek Taverna does not offer valet parking.

Although I did not go inside during my most recent visit, I recall that the indoor dining area is small, but comfortable, with wooden tables and chairs and blue checkered tablecloths. A few of the walls feature grand murals of beautiful Greek landscapes and water views.

Menu

The combined lunch/dinner menu offers a variety of authentic Greek cuisine.  Appetizers (Medezes) include six mix-and-match dips ($6.99 each or 3 for $10.99), traditional Greek starters such as stuffed grape leaves (Dolmades), baked cheese (Saganaki), and coconut shrimp, as well as breaded calamari and a few salads. There is a section dedicated to Gyros, which are rolled sandwiches of pita bread, served with meat, usually with tzatziki sauce, tomatoes and onions.  The gyros options ($5.99 – $6.99) included versions featuring feta, olives, chicken, buffalo chicken, codfish, eggplant, veggies, and artichokes.

Dinners ranged in price from $12.99 – $16.99 and the variety didn’t disappoint. Traditional Greek choices  included Moussaka (cinnamon seasoned beef with eggplant in a béchamel sauce), Spanakopita (spinach and feta wrapped in phyllo pastry dough and baked), and Arni Yuvesti (stewed lamb and noodles). However, other interesting choices included Fish and Chips, Fish Fry and a few noodle dishes with chicken and feta cheese, or meatballs in an olive sauce.

I was surprised to see a Pizza section on this menu, as I didn’t recall seeing that on previous visits.  The choices included a variety of Greek flavors, transformed into pizza toppings…olives, feta, gyro meat, grilled vegetables, and a variety of cheeses. To round out the menu, Olives Greek Taverna offered a few kids’ options, sides orders of fries, pita chips, and pita bread, and four desserts (Epikotnion) ranging from $3.99 – $4.99, including Baklava, bread pudding, rice pudding and baklava ice cream.

They also offer a separate wine menu with selections of red and white wines from around the world ($7 – $9 per glass). Patrons may also order from a selection of craft bottled beer.  Catering services are also available.

Food

Fumaoi Banfi Wine, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Olives Greek Taverna Fumaoi Banfi Wine, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

As you might expect, we started our evening meal with beverages and appetizers.  My dining companions each chose a dry wine called Fumaio Banfi, which was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, priced at $7 per glass.  They both enjoyed it and said that it was good enough to inspire each of them to purchase a bottle for home.

We chose the Melitzanosalata Dip appetizer ($6.99), prepared with grilled eggplant, feta cheese, tomato and onions, served with pita bread triangles for dipping. The dip was tasty, very fresh and had a chunky consistency.  The grilled eggplant lent a smoky flavor, while the feta cheese gave it a sharp and salty taste. A cool finish was provided courtesy of the finely diced tomatoes.

Olives Greek Taverna Melitzanosalata Dip, Courtesy: Food MIngle Blog
Olives Greek Taverna Melitzanosalata Dip, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

The large serving of accompanying pita triangles was a nice surprise, as I often find that we run out of chips before running out of dip. I especially liked that these chips were heavily spiced and somewhat crispy, allowing them to stand up well to the hearty dip.

 

Olives Greek Taverna Raw Veggies, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Olives Greek Taverna Raw Veggies, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

Our server was kind enough to bring us a small plate of raw veggies for dipping, to accommodate the gluten-free diet of one of my dinner companions. She did this without us asking, after discussing various gluten-free menu options with us.  That’s great service!

After enjoying our appetizer, we were excited to dig into our entrees. I ordered the Chicken Portobello Gyro ($6.99), made with grilled chicken tenders, sautéed seasoned baby portobello mushrooms, and kasseri cheese, with a herbed mayonnaise.  Served in a roll of pita bread in aluminum foil, this dinner looked rather bland at first. However, once I opened the foil, the wonderful aroma and beautifully melted cheese made my mouth water.

Olives Greek Taverna Chicken Portobello Gyro, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Olives Greek Taverna Chicken Portobello Gyro, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

I attempted to pick up this delightfully rolled gyro, but the filling was overflowing the top of the pita. So, I ate the majority of the filling with my fork, before finally being able to eat it like a sandwich.  I liked that the thick pita bread was warm, but still light and fluffy.  The tender chicken was moist and well-seasoned.  The portobello mushrooms (one of my favorites!) were sautéed perfectly, adding an earthy taste and meaty texture.  The kasseri cheese added a tangy richness and melted nicely into the chicken mixture. The only drawback to this dish was that there was too much herbed mayonnaise, resulting in soggy pita bread on the bottom of the rolled gyro.  I generally prefer less sauce and condiments on my food, but perhaps others might enjoy a more highly sauced entre.

Along with the gyro, I also ordered the soup special of the day, which was a Watermelon Gazpacho ($3.50).  One of my dinner companions also ordered this gazpacho, telling us that she isn’t usually a fan of cold soups.  I too was hesitant at first, but decided that a warm summer night was the perfect time to try something cool and refreshing.  We both loved it!

Olives Greek Taverna Watermelon Gazpacho (Cold Soup), Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Olives Greek Taverna Watermelon Gazpacho (Cold Soup), Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

Served in a mini-mason jar and topped with tangy, crumbled feta cheese, this watermelon and tomato mixture resembled a loose salsa more than a cold soup. I even used the veggie sticks garnishes as dipping vessels. The chunks of tomatoes and watermelon blended surprisingly well.  This gazpacho had quite a spicy kick though, due to the chopped jalapenos, cilantro and onions hidden within.  The feta served as a nice palate-cooling chaser.  It’s too bad that this soup isn’t a regular menu item, because I would order it throughout the warmer months.

One of my dinner companions ordered an appetizer special for her dinner – a Greek Empanada ($7.99), described by our server as a “Greek-ified Empanada.”  She said that the chef brought together the flavors of Greece in a traditionally Mexican dish.  It consisted of pita bread stuffed with grilled vegetables and topped with chipotle sauce, and tzatziki. Our server customized this appetizer by adding a side of white rice. My friend described it as “a delicious mix of flavors” and very filling.

Olives Green Taverna Greek Empanada, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Olives Greek Taverna Greek Empanada, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

Another dinner companion ordered a dinner special – Marinated Pangasius Fish ($14.99) served over white rice, with a side of grilled pita bread.  I had never heard of this fish, so I did some research and found that it is a type of imported, fresh-water catfish, native to various Asian nations.  This fish is gaining popularity in the United States, and is an example of the increasing demand for aquaculture.

Olives Greek Taverna Baked Pangasius Fish, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Olives Greek Taverna Baked Pangasius Fish, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

The Pangasius was marinated and seasoned with lemon, rosemary and spices.  The lemon slice garnishes were nicely grilled. She described the fish as flaky and tender, declaring that it was, “melt in your mouth delicious.” I tried a bite and agreed with her assessment; this whitefish was mild and tasty, not overpowering or the least bit “fishy.”  She also said that the rice was perfectly cooked.  However, I think that serving this fish with both rice and pita bread is an overload of carbs. Perhaps substituting either side for grilled vegetables or a small salad might have resulted in a more balanced meal and colorful plate, as well as providing a wider range of textures and tastes.

Unfortunately, we were all too full from our appetizers, dinners and soup to order dessert. Next time, I’ll be sure to skip the appetizer to save room for a Greek pastry (or two?).

Service

We were very happy with the service we received from our server, Michelle at Olives Greek Taverna. She was attentive, efficient, friendly and knowledgeable.  She also happily inquired with the chef about our gluten questions and graciously accommodated our requests.  Our food was served in a timely and pleasant manner and our server checked in with us several times throughout the meal.  Our water glasses were continuously filled and we enjoyed pleasant conversation with our server.

Since I had visited a few times previously, I was aware that they do not accept credit cards; only cash and checks are honored.  However, I did not see any signage or menu notes about this restriction.  Unaware patrons would be happy to know about this quirk before ordering, lest they find themselves in an awkward situation once the check arrives.  At the very least, there should be signs and a note on the menu about acceptable payment options.  Also, the closing time may be a bit early for some patrons (8pm weekdays, 9pm weekends), so plan your visit accordingly.

Overall Experience

We enjoyed our visit, and this affordable eatery is on my list of summer al fresco dining options. In addition to a strong regular menu, I really like that Olives Greek Taverna regularly offers several creative and delicious specials ranging for appetizers to lunches, dinners and desserts.  For example, during this visit, my party ordered two soup specials, an appetizer special and a dinner special. We enjoyed great food and service on a warm summer evening by the canal.

Have you visited Olives Greek Taverna? If so, how would you describe your visit?

If You Go…

Olives Greek Taverna
50 State Street
Schoen Place
Pittsford, NY 14534
Phone:        (585) 381-3990
Website:     www.olivespittsford.com
Email:         none available
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/olivesgreektaverna/?fref=nf
Twitter: @olivesgreektaverna

Details:
Business Hours:            Mon-Thurs: 11am – 8pm, Fri-Sat: 11am – 9pm
Cuisine:                          Greek.Mediterranean
Meals Served:                Lunch, Dinner, takeout and catering
Children’s Menu:          Yes
Accepts Credit Cards:  Yes
Handicap Accessible:   Yes
Attire:                              Casual
Requires Reservations: No, but recommended
Table Service:           Yes
Take Out:                   Yes
Outdoor Seating:     Yes
Parking:                     Free in the adjacent plaza lot
Valet Service:            No
Bar Seating:              No
Alcohol:                     Yes
Coat Check:              No
Date opened:            1998
Date visited:             Friday, August 5, 2016 for dinner

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