Well, a crucial chunk of the Inner Loop is off-limits for the next few months, traffic circles are apparently the new cupcake, and where Mount Hope and Elmwood avenues meet is being hacked to bits so that College Town may rise. But no amount of minor inconvenience is going to keep a true Rochesterian from good food, especially not if there's a burger with fries and a milkshake at the end of that road. OK, maybe some gravy on those fries, too. And while we're at it, let's spike that milkshake.
Bunga Burger Bar, from Bob St. George and Pittsford Pub owners Brad and Denise Sluman, isn't the first restaurant to open in the blossoming College Town area, but it is the first locally owned one to avail itself of a newly built structure. The facade consists of tall windows that open completely, the fresh air, relaxed atmosphere, and vivid surroundings bringing to mind a really comfortable picnic as you cozy up to something from Bunga Burger Bar's refreshingly unfussy menu. There are several salads, four chicken-wing preparations, a handful of sides (including yummy sweet potato fries glistening with honey), and sandwiches like classic beef on weck ($9.95), seared ahi tuna with yogurt-wasabi sauce ($12.50), or a balsamic-marinated portobello mushroom ($8.50).
Of course there are burgers, each a half-pound of aged beef available with myriad toppings and sauces created by executive chef Tony Carvalho. Selections include the Pineapple Jack ($10.25), with bacon, mozzarella, and pineapple-rum salsa; and the Bourbon Street ($9.25) with BBQ sauce, onion strings, and aged cheddar. Bunga Burger Bar also offers 16 beers on tap along with a full bar that makes its way into the "adult shakes" ($9), such as a creamy-smoky-sweet bourbon-caramel milkshake that confirms summer is totally here.
Bunga Burger Bar is located at 1370 Mt. Hope Ave. It is open Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. (food served till 10 p.m.) and Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. (food served till midnight). Food prices range from $4.25-$12.50. For more information, call 360-4949 or visit Bunga Burger Bar's Facebook page.
"There's free dinner in the woods," Olga Tzogas says with a laugh, but the head of Smugtown Mushrooms is very serious about her passion for foraging, a longstanding practice that not only results in fresh, gratis grub, but one that Tzogas believes to be about community, sustainability, and DIY empowerment. Since its inception last year, Smugtown has been quietly building a following, and 2013 brought with it an increase in Smugtown's educational offerings, many of which feature collaborations with other local artisans. Tzogas is also formulating plans for a retail space in Smugtown's home base near the Rochester Public Market at 127 Railroad St., where it is currently cultivating its own mushrooms.
And on the subject of mycology, Tzogas is truly ardent, waxing about the medicinal properties of mushrooms and other fungi. "Penicillin is a mold," she says. "We pop it in pill form and we don't even think about it."
So if you too are interested in the art and science of foraging, Smugtown will host a Mushroom and Herb Walk in Seneca Park on Saturday, May 25, at 4 p.m., and you can learn more about fascinating world of mushrooms at the Radical Mycology Meetup at Ellison Park on Tuesday, May 28, at 7 p.m. To participate in either event, visit Smugtown's Facebook page, its website (smugtownmushrooms.com), or email email@example.com
Farmers' market season is upon us, which means that nearly every day of the week some parking lot will be teeming with local growers and their delicious bounties. Most start up in June, but getting the jump on things is the Brighton Farmers' Market, 1150 S. Winton Road, which opens on Sunday, May 26, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Visit brightonfarmersmarket.org for the proverbial dirt.
Congratulations to Fairport Brewing Company, which recently reached a Kickstarter goal that will help to fund an expansion into a landmark building at 99 South Main Street in the heart of Fairport. Hit up fairportbrewing.com to track the move's progress, or call FBC at 678-6728 to find out the best time to fill your growler.
As if there weren't enough compelling reasons to wind through the Finger Lakes eating and drinking, now there's the Sweet Treat Trail, which helpfully maps out places that you and your sweet tooth might enjoy visiting. Choose from apiaries, bakeries, fruit farms, and ice cream spots — or, actually, don't choose, and just stop by all of them. First, though, do a little advance work at tourcayuga.com.
Ravioli Shop owner Bill Kenny has announced the closing of his two retail spots on Saturday, May 25; until that time, both the North Winton Road and Courtney Drive locations will be selling their inventories of gourmet foods at 30 percent off. But filled-pasta lovers, take heart: the wholesale business will continue, with Ravioli Shop creations available at places like Red Bird Market, Pittsford Farms Dairy, R's Market, and, beginning June 1, Captain Jim's Fish Market. Visit theraviolishop.com for more details.
Park Avenue creperie Delish Bakery is now closed after just more than a year in business.
Rochester lost a couple of Indian restaurants in the last few weeks. Taste of India (3047 W. Henrietta Road) shut its doors, and Royal India (368 Jefferson Road), also closed, but the latter location is rumored to be the site of an upcoming resurrection of Monroe and Alexander's much-missed Raj Mahal.
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.