I hate to call an entire suburb on to the carpet — especially the beautiful one where I was born and raised — but Irondequoit has had somewhat of a restaurant problem. With a couple of exceptions, there's never really been anything interesting to eat, unless you're only ever in the mood for a pizza, a plate, or chicken freaking french. Looking for artisanal this or locally grown that? Too bad. But that was before Gerry and Diane Brinkman fired the first proverbial shot in Irondequoit's food revolution. Not a moment too soon, either. I'm hungry.
Perhaps you remember the Brinkmans from their stint helming the acclaimed Rochester Club restaurant. The years since its closing saw them dividing their time between running the Thousand Islands' Wellesley Hotel in the summer and Gerry's work as a food-service educator. Now they're back on the Rochester restaurant scene with Atlas Eats.
"We used to commute three hours; now it's five blocks," says Diane of the Brinkmans' cheerful new eatery, located in the heart of Irondequoit's Rawlinson-Barry neighborhood, just east of the Seneca Park Zoo. Diane describes it as a "mom-and-pop place," if your mom and dad not only made dishes like Buffalo-wing salmon for lunch ($9.95), but also sold you a freshly made baguette to take home.
Globes and maps decorate Atlas Eats, where the open kitchen offers up flavors from all over the planet. The fluid menu might include a Greek salad ($7.95), kimchi fried rice with tofu ($8.95), or a satisfying veggie burger made with lentils and quinoa ($7.95) served alongside simply dressed greens from Farmington's Pachamama Farm. Opposite the open kitchen is the bakeshop, where baker Brenda Roback makes such things as breads, cakes, biscuits, hand pies, the little Australian treats known as Lamingtons, a decadent flourless chocolate cookie with walnuts, and a nicely spiced oatmeal cookie bursting with raisins, cranberries, and chocolate chunks.
Friday and Saturday evenings are the Edible Atlas dinner series, where Gerry creates a menu devoted to a specific cuisine. The first one explored the food of Italy, while the current one honors Spain through dishes like paella with chicken and clams as well as flan ice cream. The Edible Atlas menus stay in place for two weeks, but reservations for the two seatings (6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) are somewhat crucial due to Atlas Eats' snug size... unlike the world, which is quite large, and being brought to Irondequoit one carefully crafted plate at a time.
Atlas Eats is located at 2185 N. Clinton Ave. It is open Thursday-Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Lunch served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Food prices range from $1 to $9.95. For more information, call 544-1300 or visit atlas-eats.com.
The Rochester Brainery continues its mission of offering a diverse roster of learning opportunities, and many of them revolve around food and drink. Learn the proper way to put up summer's bounty with "Canning Techniques" on Saturday, August 3; get the lowdown on brewing your own "Homemade Kombucha" on Monday, August 12; or counteract your decadent ways on Wednesday, August 14, via "Small Changes to Make for Lasting Weight Loss," with Certified Health Coach Lora Downie. You'll find pricing, sign-up info, and more at rochesterbrainery.com.
It's time once again for Fox Run Vineyards' Glorious Garlic Festival, now in its 21st year and taking place 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, August 3, and Sunday, August 4. The festival features lectures, demos, and live music, plus garlic-centric eats from local chefs and vendors offering their wares throughout the Fox Run grounds in Penn Yan. Admission is free; visit foxrunvineyards.com for all the details.
After a mild snafu regarding the location site, the Finger Lakes Riesling Festival will take place Saturday, August 10, and Sunday, August 11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., along Lakeshore Drive in Canandaigua. Activities include arts and crafts, a car show, cooking demos, a farmers' market, wine seminars, and adult refreshments from both wineries and breweries, such as Heron Hill and Ommegang. Visit rieslingfestival.com for more, or call 899-3260.
Cooks in the city will be thrilled to learn that seasoning merchant Stuart's Spices has dropped roots at 754 S. Clinton Ave., having outgrown its space on Lyell Avenue. Call 436-9329 or do some advance work at stuartsspices.com.
Zemeta is a new Ethiopian restaurant in the Swillburg neighborhood; you can find it at 1015 S. Clinton Ave. Call 244-3344 to learn more.
There's a new sushi spot in Henrietta, across from Marketplace Mall on Hylan Drive. It's called Sushi Palace, and it provides diners with both a la carte and all-you-can-eat options. Call 272-0888 or visit sushipalace1000.com for the particulars.
The torrential rains of early July brought about the premature demise of LBF Bistro, next to the Cinema Theatre. But you can still find Dave Potwin's Lettuce B. Frank cart at its usual haunts; visit lettucebfrank.com to track its whereabouts.
Max Sushi & Noodles, formerly at the corner of East Main and Stillson streets, has closed. The signs in the window promise a new restaurant soon, so stay tuned...
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.