The space that houses Relish (651 South Avenue) is hardly recognizable from its former iteration, Open Face Sandwich Eatery. Owner Stephen Rees has brightened up the place with white walls and light accents and had recently finished painting the ceiling when we recently sat down to talk. "At this current juncture, it's just me making the bread, printing the signs, painting the ceiling," he said, laughing.
Over the past year, Rees has run Relish as a food delivery service, and he had been searching for a brick-and-mortar location so he could start offering lunch and dinner. He also wanted a larger kitchen so he could continue to create his pre-prepared fresh and frozen meals. His goal was to find a place in the North Winton area, but when the owner of Open Face approached him about moving to his old location in the South Wedge, Rees knew it was going to be the right choice.
Relish is currently open for lunch, but Rees plans to introduce a dinner menu in June. The lunch menu categories will remain consistent: there will always be a variety of salads to choose from, as well as signature sandwiches and homemade sausage. But the options within those categories will change, allowing Rees to play with different recipes. That includes more vegan and vegetarian items.
"I'm not vegetarian or vegan, but I love throwing things together that taste delicious," Rees said. On the menu when I visited was a Hummus Raclette sandwich ($8) served on whole wheat bread and topped with yams and a crunchy salad. Relish will also have a rotating pickle bar, with at least four seasonal pickled items available to accompany your lunch.
His plan for dinner will be bistro-casual in the truest sense – there will be a blackboard with four appetizers and four entrees, and when they're gone, they're gone – and he plans to not take reservations, if possible.
"I'm in the freakin' South Wedge," Rees said. "It's amazing here. If there's a 45-minute wait for a table, go have a glass of wine at Solera next door, or a cocktail at Lux across the street, or walk down to Butapub and have a drink and an appetizer and come back here for your entrée."
Relish will be BYOB to a certain extent – if you're taking the Tour de Franzia, you might get charged a corkage fee, but if you bring in a nice bottle of wine, Rees is happy to accommodate. He plans to obtain a beer and wine license as well.
Speaking of beverages, Relish also has frozen slushies available. One option will always be a lemonade with a seasonal add-in available (like strawberry or rhubarb juice) or fresh turmeric. A frozen caffeinated option will also be available in the form of iced tea or coffee.
Relish is located at 651 South Avenue, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Lunch is available from 11:30 to 4 p.m. and pre-prepared meals can purchased until 6 p.m. 454-2767; relishdelivers.com.
The first ZooBrew will take place on Friday, May 26, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Seneca Park Zoo (2222 St. Paul Street). A portion of the funds from every ticket will go to the International Elephant Foundation, and a special tour of the elephant barn will be available for $25. Tickets for the event are $8 in advance and $10 at the front gate and include live music and animal experiences. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Tickets: senecaparkzoo.org.
The WCMF Roc City Rib Fest will take place on Friday, May 26, through Sunday, May 29, at Barnard Park (360 Maiden Lane). Local and visiting BBQ vendors will be offering up their smoked selections. There will be live music, craft vendors, and an interactive Kid Zone. Information: roccityribfest.org.
The next Food Truck Rodeo will take place on Wednesday, May 31, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Rochester Public Market (280 North Union Street). Live music will be provided by Teagan and the Tweeds. Parking in the market area is limited, so the organizers have arranged for a free Marketmobile Shuttle that will transport attendees from the East End Parking Garage at Scio and East Main Street to the rodeo. Information: cityofrochester.gov/foodtruckrodeo/.
Black Button Distilling will host a Tasting Cruise on the Sam Patch on Wednesday, June 7, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The cost is $28 per person and will include tastings from Black Button and an assortment of light snacks. Tickets can be purchased by calling 662-5748 or at sampatch.org.
Funk 'N Waffles Music Hall (204 North Water Street) had its grand opening last Friday. The popular, Syracuse-based music venue and waffle restaurant took over the former Water Street Music Hall space back in February.
Silver Iguana Cantina (663 North Winton Road) has opened in the space formerly occupied by Brunello Wine Bar.
Radio Social (20 Carlson Road) is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Bar snacks are served seven days a week.
Sad to report that RYCE, the student-run Caribbean restaurant in Village Gate (302 North Goodman), has closed.
East of Chicago Pizza (2171 West Henrietta Road) has closed.
The 3300 Café & Grille (3300 Monroe Avenue), which replaced Corner Bakery Café in Pittsford, has closed.
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.