Corn Hill Landing has plenty to offer along the Genesee, including several great views and waterside seating for its restaurants, but the area has continuously been in flux. The Corn Hill neighborhood has changed a lot as well due to gentrification, but that's a story for another time. Since the stalwart Tony D's closed in September, West Edge Restaurant and Lounge has become something of a face for the plaza's restaurants.
I liked the interior when the space housed Tap and Table and the Rochester Taproom, and not much has really changed. The main dining area still features an extended bar with a wide ranging tap list, and the space plays as a cross between a sports bar and a lounge.
Unfortunately, though, the food I had over my two visits didn't live up to expectations. It wasn't one specific issue that left me frustrated, but a few fundamental flaws and a consistent lack of simple execution couldn't be overlooked.
Starting out with our small dishes: while they were seared and seasoned well, the four small crab cakes ($14) lacked balance between the meat and filler, which just left them dense without any payoff. The meat on our plate of fried calamari ($11) was tender, but the breading had almost no color to it. And the pieces were fried at too low a temperature, which caused them to absorb the fryer oil, overwhelming the squid.
The truffle mac and cheese ($9 for a side, or $24 as a main) suffered from the sauce becoming separated — typically it should be a smooth combination of cheese, milk, and a flour roux, but in this case there was some cheese stuck to the noodles and oil left in the ramekin. On a positive note, there was a good amount of finely shaved truffle throughout the dish which gave it a nice, intense aroma.
Too much oil was also an issue in the pearl barley risotto ($19). The mushroom risotto base was rich and full of parmesan, but was too thick, and an unappealing pool of oil had accumulated at the bottom of the dish, forcing us to eat around it.
The menu's steak entree ($25) lists a flank, but I was subbed a NY strip, which is normally a fine switch. It fell victim, though, to a few basic steak cooking flaws. It came out close to the requested medium rare, but the steak wasn't rested before plating, causing red juices to flow even before cutting into the meat. Worse was a complete lack of salt on the steak.
I'll rarely complain about a well-made corned beef sandwich, and the version at West Edge ($12) was the best item I tried. It was a classic combo of Swiss cheese, grain mustard, and pickled cabbage which balanced nicely.
If West Edge wants to stake its claim as a long-term resident of Corn Hill Landing, the team should go back to basics and focus on day-to-day execution of the menu — making sure sauces are made properly, dishes are seasoned well, and things come out appropriately cooked. There is potential with the menu itself but without some re-examination, it's hard to see the food getting much better.
You can listen to Chris Lindstrom on the Food About Town podcast or check out his food blog, Foodabouttown.com. Share any dining tips with him on Twitter and Instagram @stromie.