When we first took a look at Orbs Restaurant & Bar (758 South Avenue) back in 2014, the menu was heavy on the meatballs and not much else. A lot can happen in three years. The menu has evolved from small spheres of meat to an ode to fresh ingredients and farm-to-table fare, with the help of the restaurant's former executive chef Steven Lara and former sous chef and new executive chef Matt Adrian.
Katharina Jackson has been with Orbs since pretty much the beginning. "I bartend, I serve, I do a little bit of everything," she says, adding that the transition from Lara to Adrian in the kitchen has been pretty seamless — Adrian had been making menu changes and creating new dishes for some time.
The menu started to evolve with the addition of brunch service with a playful menu full of tongue-in-cheek terms. You can order the Morning Wood breakfast special (eggs, Berkshire bacon, two sausage balls, biscuits and gravy, and chorizo hash) and bring your leftovers home with you in a paper "Ball Sack." The Vermonster ($15), Orb's spin on chicken and waffles, adds Berkshire bacon, beer cheese, egg, and a spiced maple syrup.
"We realized how well the brunch menu was doing and we wanted to pull in dinner to be just as updated, fresh, interesting, and unique," Jackson says.
Changes to the dinner menu happened slowly but significantly, to the point where the only balls on the menu are in a dish called the O.G. ($12), which features Angus beef meatballs, tomato, pecorino, basil, ricotta, and baguette.
"We still get people asking about the balls, and we will 'special' things back on the menu," says Jackson. For example, a falafel ball that used to be on the menu has returned with a new twist that includes Sumac yogurt, fresh pomegranate, and a mint chimichurri. Also on the updated menu is bone marrow ($8), marinated with mushrooms and Cipollini onion, and served in the bone with marrow-rendered breadcrumbs and rustic bread.
Orbs has always featured craft cocktails and has recently added to its staff Chrystal Wiegand, who brings an extensive knowledge of craft beer and whiskey. They have a rotating wine list and always feature prosecco on tap.
"The farm-to-table concept extends to the bar," Jackson says, adding that the cocktail lineup incorporates seasonal fixings such as shrubs and the ingredients used in the simple syrups.
Orbs Restaurant & Bar is located at 758 South Avenue, and is open Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday for brunch from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, for brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 471-8569. orbsrestaurant.com.
If you're one of the brave — or insane — that ventures out shopping on Black Friday, fuel up beforehand at Joe Bean Coffee Roaster's (1344 University Avenue) Black Friday Brunch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, November 24. Selections from the menu include Savory Scones with Egg cream Sauce and a Gingered Pear Stuffed French Toast with Caramel Sauce. After that, head on over to The Lost Borough Brewing Co. (543 Atlantic Avenue) for its 3-Year Celebration and Can Drop, held from noon to 11 p.m. There will be beer and food specials throughout the day and the brewery will release two different canned beers at 4 p.m.
The Genesee Brew House (25 Cataract Street) will hold its annual Keg Tree Lighting on Friday, December 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. The event will feature beer, food, and live music.
The Seneca Park Zoo (2222 St. Paul Street) will host ZooBrrrew on Friday, December 1 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for Zoo members and $35 for non-members and include Zoo admission, live music, food, and a ticket to a Summer ZooBrew. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be available to purchase at the gate. The event is 21 and older and all proceeds benefit the Seneca Park Zoo Society.
Living Roots Wine & Company (1255 University Avenue) is now open.
K2 Brothers Brewing Co. (1221 Empire Boulevard) will hold its grand opening on Saturday, December 2, with a ribbon cutting at noon.
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