A couple weeks back, OnlyInYourState.com published an article titled “9 Restaurants You Have To Visit In Minnesota Before You Die,” and after getting over the morbid headline, I was delighted to see Rochester’s Chester’s Kitchen and Bar made the list.
The article called it “Rochester’s restaurant to beat” and, with several wins in the “best restaurant” category in Rochester Magazine’s annual reader poll, Rochesterites tend to agree.
The article got me thinking … what are my can’t-miss culinary experiences in the area? If you want to taste the best of Rochester and beyond, make sure you put these on your bucket list.
Adventurous Chef Tasting at ZZest Café and Bar
Sure, we all have our favorite dishes when we dine out. We peruse the menu but tend to gravitate toward a handful of menu items we know will be winners. Now, imagine throwing that out the window.
At ZZest, they believe in the talent and creativity of their chefs so completely that “whatever we want to serve you” is an option on the menu. And when you’re in the hands of Executive Chef Justin Schoville, you don’t need to worry about a thing. You get three courses for $35, an absolute steal, and optional wine pairing for $15 more.
If you want something adventurous but not quite so out of your control, check out ZZest’s Egg Warzz March 15 and 16, when three of their top chefs do eggs three ways, and you get to decide on the winner.
Hawaii 507 at Grand Rounds
Maybe this one is more for non-beer-drinkers like me, but hey, it’s also just damn delicious: If you haven’t yet, you’ve got to try the Hawaii 507 coconut stout at Grand Rounds. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s my pint of beer every time I’m there. Rich, sweet coconut and creamy stout are a winning combo, and if you can get it on cask? Even better.
Toast at Casablanca Creative Cuisine
We found a lot of unexpected delights at Casablanca, including the intimate ambiance, the high level of service from all staff — and listening to them speak French to one another — and especially most of all: the evening toast. The entire restaurant participates, with each diner getting a glass of bubbly, and then the real magic happens: People share. Everyone stops and listens. And it really feels like we get closer to one another and to our own humanity.
Like I said, magical.
Brunch at Pescara
Sorry, Chester’s, but you’ve got nothing on your sister restaurant on Sunday mid-morning to mid-afternoon. This is Pescara‘s time to shine, and it’s already pretty shiny every night of the week with fresh fish specials and carefully curated wine list.
The traditional brunch buffet here is something special — and you don’t see it right away. It looks like any other brunch buffet. Until you taste the food. And maybe sip on your complimentary mimosa. And order any additional item you want from the kitchen.
Baked Alaska at Prescotts
It’s worth it to come to Prescotts just for the dessert menu, believe me. But the baked Alaska really takes the cake (pardon that pun). It’s homemade ice cream (usually pistachio) covered in a mountain of whipped meringue that’s been flame-browned to perfection. And when you take a bite, that’s what it is: perfection.
All the rest — I don’t have space to go on about everything you should experience in the Rochester area before you … you know. So as a parting shot, I’ll drop a few more: Pick a favorite pastry at Daube’s; eat on the patio at Nosh overlooking the water in Lake City; always get the Gouda cheese bread at Thirsty Belgian; grab a taco behind the grocery section at La Poblana in Barlow Plaza; try the butternut squash ravioli at Twigs; and order a salted caramel ice cream at Flapdoodles.