If you've ever tried to corral your nearest and dearest for a restaurant meal, then you already know that factors like dietary restrictions, moral choices, and personal tastes can make deciding on someplace a total chore. Paula Catalano comes from a huge family that enjoys going out to eat, and she found that more often than not they'd wind up at one of the chains in an effort to make everyone happy. "It wasn't easy to find a place that has a good mix of food," says Catalano. So she created the "comfortable but upscale" spot she had in mind.
Located at the Four Corners of Penfield in a lovely historical building that formerly housed Kam Wah Chinese Restaurant, Angus House & Lounge might be best described as a steakhouse with an Italian influence, and it's clear from the name that Angus House takes its meat very seriously. The steaks and burgers are all Certified Angus Beef, meaning that the beef has to pass stringent USDA specifications on such factors as marbling and fat thickness. "It's top of the line, never frozen," says Catalano. "If I offer high quality for a reasonable price, then everybody wins."
Incidentally, is there anything better on a bone-chilling night than braised beef short ribs redolent of red wine and served atop warming basil polenta ($22)? Or an organic roasted half-chicken with dried cherry-cornbread dressing ($16)? The Angus House menu is lavish with comfort food, whether you're looking to tuck in to one of the many steak options, classic shrimp scampi ($22), or grilled scallops served with crispy pancetta, wild mushroom risotto, and asparagus ($23). The starters and salads reflect the Italian steakhouse concept as well, with artichoke Francese ($9), two different calamari preparations, an antipasto platter ($14), and juicy flat-iron skewers ($12) served over arugula, Gorgonzola, and addictively sweet horseradish-roasted grape tomatoes.
Angus House serves weekday lunch, offering a few sandwiches and wraps alongside many of the evening's appetizers and entrées, such as Paula's Eggplant Caprese ($9), which incorporates goat cheese and sundried tomato into the expected flavors. ("We make it at home and I wanted to share it," says Catalano.) There's a 60-person private party room available, but the Angus House kitchen, headed by chefs Tim Mayo and Scott Wilson, is up for some offsite catering, too.
Angus House & Lounge is located at 2126 Five Mile Line Road, Penfield. It is open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday 4-11 p.m., and Sunday 4-9 p.m. Food prices range from $6-$40. For more information, call 218-2005 or visit the Facebook page.
Eat with your hands
At the risk of sounding ignorant, I'm not entirely sure what I ate at Meda Ethiopian Bar & Restaurant, my friend and I having settled on the generous Meda Special Combo for two ($17.99). What I do know is that it was delicious and I can't wait to go back. The combo featured a couple of different kinds of lentils, one with a subtle curry and the other seasoned with the aromatic spice blend known as berbere; some tender collard greens; two different lamb preparations; and a beef dish that I wanted more of. Everything was artfully arranged on a platter covered with injera, the spongy, pleasantly tangy flatbread that doubles as an eating utensil. All the items on the platter — plus many more — are available a la carte as well, and vegetarians have their own combo options.
Meda Ethiopian Bar & Restaurant is located at 302 University Ave. It is open Monday-Sunday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Food prices range from $7.50 to $17.99. For more information, call 285-6960 or visit medaethiopianrestaurant.com.
Share and share alike
It's not too early to start dreaming about summer's bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and anyone interested in Community Supported Agriculture should join the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York for the Rochester CSA Fair, where you can chat with local farmers and compare share options. The Rochester CSA Fair takes place Saturday, February 16, 1-3 p.m. at the Bausch & Lomb Public Library Building, 115 South Ave. Visit nofany.org to learn more.
A matter of taste
Vino Con Sabor (translation: "wine with taste") is the name of the Puerto Rican Festival's third annual tasting event, which pairs New York State wines with a three-course meal of Puerto Rican cuisine and offers attendees the opportunity to purchase their favorite wines directly from the wineries themselves. Vino Con Sabor begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, at the Rochester Plaza, 70 State St. Tickets are $40 and available at prfestival.com
Better with age
South Wedge cocktail bar Cheshire will celebrate its first anniversary Wednesday, February 27, 5-11 p.m. with the release of its oak-barrel-aged Manhattan, a process meant to soften the edges and add a little complexity to the drink. Call 232-4909 or visit the Facebook page of Cheshire's sister business, Solera Wine Bar, to learn more.
Kudos to Joe Bean Coffee Roasters (1344 University Ave., 319-5279, joebeanroasters.com), which last month received national honors as part of the Good Food Awards for its Pachi coffee, brewed from beans sustainably sourced from a single farm in Nicaragua.
And congratulations to Hedonist Artisan Chocolates (674 South Ave., 461-2815, hedonistchocolates.com), whose Valentine's Day prep got a whole lot busier when a panel of respected culinary voices sang the praises of Hedonist's salted caramels in a recent New York Times piece.
Craft Café is now serving breakfast, lunch, baked goods, and coffee drinks in the space that until recently housed Roc River Coffee Co., 234 Andrews St. Call 232-3653 or visit craftcaferochester.com for more information.
Shema Sushi has closed its doors on Main Street in Webster but is scheduled to resurface before too long in the old Gusto location, 277 Alexander St. Stay tuned...
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.