Trish Aser was doing the farm-to-table concept before we even started calling it "farm-to-table." She opened the Brown Hound Bistro in 2005 in a small, century-old Bristol house, and began sourcing all of her ingredients locally, taking advantage of the many farms and businesses in the area. The restaurant was a success and the whole concept of sourcing food locally began to explode. "I used to drive around the Finger Lakes picking up product, and then the farmers started coming to me," she says.
Faced with the challenges of location — Bristol has no Main Street, and the customer base fluctuates based on the season — Aser looked to move Brown Hound to a more centralized location. She raised $30,000 in 15 days through Kickstarter in order to fund the restaurant's move to Canandaigua.
"I was shocked at how much was raised," she says. "It was a mixture of customers, people I had become close with; even a couple from England who had come to the restaurant three times." But even though the money was raised, the location she found in Canandaigua was sold to a different buyer.
A phone call last October from Patti Giordano, Memorial Art Gallery's deputy director and chief operating officer, changed everything. Max had just left the restaurant space in the MAG, and Giordano asked if Aser would consider opening her restaurant there.
As all of this was happening, Aser was set up on a blind date with Joe Scardilla whose family ran the Conesus Inn for 50 years. The two began dating and talking about the potential venture with the MAG. "I knew I couldn't ignore it; it was a fabulous opportunity," Aser says.
The couple decided to take advantage of Giordano's offer together and Brown Hound Downtown (500 University Avenue) opened just after the New Year. The space includes a bakery, where Aser works as the pastry chef, and the bistro on the veranda. The concept of the bistro is the same — with a focus on local and seasonal — only now Aser has access to even more vendors in the Rochester area.
The bistro is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner. It will hold a grand opening on May 6. The menu is constantly evolving and changing and the hours of operation will expand as well. And Brown Hound is currently putting in a new bar to be stocked with locally distilled spirits.
Brown Hound Downtown is located at 500 University Avenue in the Memorial Art Gallery. It is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday; and for brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. The bakery is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. 506-9725; facebook.com/brownhoundbistro.
Rohrbach Brewing Company recently opened a new beer hall at its 97 Railroad Street location. The space now features a wood-burning brick oven for making pizza and has open seating at large communal tables as well as seating at the bar. The beer hall is open Wednesday through Friday from 2 to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The "Beer Hall Sessions," a live music series, takes place Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. More information at rohrbachs.com.
Iron Smoke Distillery (111 Parce Avenue) has recently won 11 national and international awards for its Iron Smoke Whiskey and Rattlesnake Rosie's Apple Pie Whiskey. Both of Iron Smoke's products can be found in local bars and liquor stores. More information at ironsmokewhiskey.com.
The Rochester Museum and Science Center (657 East Avenue) will host its "RMSC Uncorked & On Tap" event on Friday, April 8, at 6 p.m. The event brings together local food, craft beer, wine, and spirit vendors for an "evening of sampling, entertainment, and unique insights into the science of wine, beer, and spirits." Tickets are $50 for RMSC members, $60 for non-members, and $70 the day of the event. Purchase tickets and find out more at rmsc.org.
Via Garisole Wine Bar (3 Schoen Place) will host a fundraiser on Tuesday, April 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. for Corn Hill Navigation, a non-profit organization who runs the Sam Patch tours of the Erie Canal. Tickets are $35 and include a glass of wine or beer and a cheese and charcuterie sampling. More information at viagarisole.com or 641-0340.
Bar 145 (71 Celebration Drive) has opened in College Town. The chain gastropub specializes in "Burgers, Bands, and Bourbon." More information at bar145rochester.com.
CoreLife Eatery (927 Holt Road) will open in Webster on Monday, April 11, at 11 a.m. The fast, casual, and healthy restaurant originated in Syracuse and the menu features salads, bone broth soups, and grain bowls. More information at eatatcore.com.
Corner Bakery Café suddenly closed its College Town location (1367 Mount Hope Avenue). The Pittsford (3300 Monroe Avenue) location is still up and running.
Greek restaurant Astoria (651 Monroe Avenue) has closed.
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to email@example.com.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Brown Hound Bistro has changed its opening party date to May 6.