Restaurant Review: Phillips European Restaurant (Rochester, NY)

Phillips Eurpean Restaurant
Phillips European Restaurant, Courtesy:

Located in a small business park plaza just off of Jefferson Road in Rochester, NY, Phillips European Restaurant is easily accessible and centrally located. Parking is free and plentiful in the well-lit lot in front of the brick-face restaurant. The large front windows are adorned with white semi-sheer curtains, ensuring privacy of the diners seated inside. Phillips European Restaurant is locally owned by Ellie and Stacy Phillips.

Once inside Phillips European Restaurant, I immediately noticed the semi-formal atmosphere, punctuated by the classical music playing in the background, the linen-covered tables, and the diffuse mood lighting. Conversely though, a few of us were surprised that several diners were quite casual, leading us to wonder if the restaurant had morphed into a less formal eatery than we remembered.

Seating is available at tables and semi-circular booths. A few of us in my dining party of four noticed that the tables and chairs showed the wear of years of use, and would benefit from a coat of varnish and cushions on the hard and worn wooden chair seats. Otherwise, the dining area was very clean and inviting. There is also a small bar with available seating located next to the enormous and inviting fresh dessert case, which is displayed prominently just inside the entrance. Oh, and the smell of sweet baking goodness is absolutely delightful!

Over the years, the restaurant has expanded into an adjacent space, allowing for even more seating and a semi-private party room, all separated by a small doorway between the dining rooms. This allows for some privacy and provides a noise barrier, as the spaces are fairly compartmentalized.

Phillips European Restaurant has the reputation of the place to go in Rochester for decadent desserts. However, their lunch and dinner offerings are also well-known and held in high esteem locally. I previously dined there for both lunch and dinner, but on this visit, I went to enjoy a dinner with a group of friends.

Phillips has a full range offering of beverages, including beer, wine, mixed drinks, cordials and liqueurs, liquor, coffee and tea assortments, Italian iced soda, Coke product soft drinks, and sparkling or plain mineral water. Lunch selections include soups and appetizers, salads and salad plates, seafood, chicken and beef, vegetarian specialties, pasta, sandwiches and wraps. The dinner selections include soups and appetizers, salad, pasta, fresh fish and seafood, chicken, beef, veal, pork, vegetarian options, and lighter fare. The dinner menu offers both petite and full-size dinner entrees. Both the lunch and dinner menus include the delectable desserts for which they are best known. Daily lunch, dinner and dessert specials are also available and can be found on their website.

Special event/meeting pricing is available for both lunch and dinner parties, for either dine in or take out. Cakes, cookie trays, party trays and wedding desserts are offered by special order.
In addition, Zellies Xylitol Mints and Gum can be conveniently purchased at Phillips European Restaurant.

We started our meal with complimentary bread and butter. Although it was fresh and tasty, we were given only five small pieces of bread, which was not fully sliced, resulting is us having to manhandle it to take a serving. Perhaps we would have been given more if we asked.

Our beverage orders ranged from water with lemon, to iced tea, and wine. I liked that I was brought a small dish of fresh, sliced lemons with my water. One of the women in our party ordered a glass of Francis Coppola Claret wine which she said was very nice. Three of us ordered salad and the fourth ordered soup. We liked that a good variety of dressings were available, and that they were served in individually plated mini-ramekins, with a delicate spoon for dispensing onto the salad – how quaint!

I started my meal with a Garden Salad with balsamic dressing, priced at a modest $3.99. For my entrée, I ordered the Scallops with Artichoke Hearts, priced at $18.99. I enjoyed the garden salad, as it was fresh, served with tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts, onions and croutons. My only complaint is that the greens were mostly ice burg lettuce; I would have preferred a heartier mix of greens. The entrée, however, exceeded my expectations. The six scallops were marinated with white wine, lemon, garlic and parsley, and tossed with angel hair pasta, fresh scallions and artichoke hearts. I often order scallops when dining out, so I have become rather practiced at knowing what I like. These scallops were prepared perfectly, with a nice sear on the outside and a moist and creamy inside, with such delicious flavor!

Each of my three dining companions ordered the Chicken French, prepared in a light batter and sautéed in a sherry Parmesan lemon sauce, offered at $11.99 for the petite portion and $15.99 for the dinner portion. It is traditionally served with a potato or rice. However, all three of them substituted angel hair pasta with a delicious white cream sauce instead. My companions enjoyed their salads, but also would have liked a more complex mix of greens. No issues were reported with the soup. Interestingly, although they all ordered the same entrée (but one in the petite size), they had differing experiences. Two of the three reported that their Chicken French was quite delicious; one even saying that it lived up to its reputation as the best in Rochester. One companion, however, reported to me afterward, that while her first piece of chicken was nicely seasoned and tender, the second piece was quite unappetizing; it was tough, discolored, and had an unpleasant taste. She chose not to finish her full-size entrée.

Oh, the desserts! What a wondrous adventure it was! I ordered the Peanut Butter Mousse Pie special for $5.99 per slice. It was topped with a dark chocolate sauce cooled into a shell, and had a dark chocolate crumbly crust. It was just delicious; not too sweet, with just enough light and fluffy peanut butter mousse. One of my dining companions ordered the Bailey’s and Cream Torte dessert, priced at $6.99 per serving. The menu describes this dessert as a “moist cocoa Genoise cake layered with a chocolate mousse and Bailey’s Irish Cream, decorated with whipped cream.” She thoroughly enjoyed it, saying that the filling was extremely light and mousse-like and the cake was fresh with no dried out ends. She was pleased that the whipped cream frosting was not overly sweet. She enjoyed her dessert with her own personal pot of Earl Grey tea.

One of the diners in my party also brought home two enormous Belgian Chocolate Covered Strawberries ($2.50 each) for her children. She said that they were so juicy that both kids had liquid running down their chins when they devoured them. She also brought her husband a slice of the Caramel Pecan Cheesecake ($5.99 per slice), which is a creamy cheesecake with caramel and pecans. The very generous serving was packaged with a container of chocolate sauce on the side.

Upon our arrival, we were politely greeted by the hostess and shown to our awaiting table in a cozy corner of the main dining room. Our server came over shortly afterwards and appeared elegant and composed. She warmly introduced herself, handed out our menus, and took our beverage orders.

We told her that a fifth member of our party would be joining us later in the evening. However, when had to summon her to take our dinner order a while later, we realized that she had misunderstood us, as she thought that we were waiting for our other guest to arrive before ordering. After that though, it was smooth sailing. After serving our drinks, she told us of the day’s specials, and then took our dinner orders, happily making a few substitutions without any fuss. She brought us complimentary bread and butter, and then served our salads and soup orders. She was attentive throughout the meal, continually refilling our beverages, removing plates and inquiring about our experience.

The server was knowledgeable and passionate about the dessert menu, recommending a limited time only dessert as a substitute for a similar dessert menu item I had ordered. Additionally, she recommended heating up the à la mode dessert ordered by one of my dinner companions. She also encouraged the group to stroll over to the dessert case to view the various sweets available. At the end of the evening, our server was gracious in splitting up our checks and bringing take home boxes to a few of us. She really was a great server and she made the evening quite enjoyable.

As mentioned earlier, one of my companions was unhappy with one of the two pieces of chicken in her Chicken French. Unfortunately, because the server was not given the opportunity to address it, I cannot comment on her ability to handle a complaint.

2014 Top Restaurants in Rochester – by

Overall Impression
Phillips European Restaurant is a great place to enjoy lunch, dinner, drinks and impressively indulgent desserts! Whether you are planning lunch with business associates, dinner with out of town guests, a special birthday, a romantic evening, or dessert with a group of friends, I would highly recommend it. Although more expensive than other area restaurants, it is definitely worth the splurge.

Comments from those in my dining party included, “I went home full and happy!” and “overall, a good experience.” Give yourself a treat and stop in to Phillips European Restaurant – you’ll be glad you did!

If you go:

Phillips European Restaurant
26 Corporate Woods
Rochester, NY 14623

Phone:         585-272-9910
Email:          direct email not available – see website for comment form
Twitter:      @philseuro

Business Hours:            Mon-Sat 11am – 11pm (last seating for dinner at 10 pm), Closed Sunday
Cuisine:                       French and European Cuisine – “Café dining in European Style”
Meals Served:              Lunch, Dinner, Dessert
Children’s Menu:          No
Accepts Credit Cards:   Yes
Handicap Accessible:    Yes
Attire:                         Business Casual
Requires Reservations: No, but reservations are taken
Table Service:             Yes
Take Out:                   Yes
Delivery Service:         Yes, limited
Outdoor Seating:         No
Parking:                     Free and plentiful in the adjacent plaza lot
Valet Service:             No
Bar Seating:               Yes
Alcohol:                     Yes
Coat Check:               Yes – self-serve
Date opened:             1984
Date visited:              12-19-2014