A Place to Give a Hoot About
By Christopher Malone
I’ve forgetten who said this first, but it’s important to treat yourself well. Treating yourself well means eating well. Especially when choosing a place to eat out, freshness and quality are important.
Rochester has a unique and fresh foodie scene, and the list of restaurants includes The Owl House, located at 75 Marshall St. The restaurant boasts an American cuisine, and it caters to a variety of dietary choices and restrictions. In other words, everyone is welcome to sit at their tables.
The one-page, frequently changing house menu showcases a plethora of delectable options, plus a list of specials that’s available nightly.
The Owl House is an actual house. Aside from the sign out front, there isn’t anything ornate about the aesthetics of the place, and there is a good chance you might drive past it if you’re not paying attention to the surroundings or GPS’s deadpan reminders about arriving at the destination. Although there isn’t a parking lot, there is ample street parking.
Inside The Owl House, the walls are brightly painted and showcase eclectic art, especially paintings. The tight quarters upon entering encourages patrons waiting for a table to push to the bar, where they can enjoy a pre-meal beverage, or wait outside. We were seated upstairs, in a little nook. Much of the restaurant welcomes a lot of natural light.
Speaking of the bar: The craft beer draft list enters into the double digits, the wine list is particular and the list of $10 craft cocktails is diverse and unique. To wet our palates, we ordered a half-pint of robust and flavorful 45 Fathoms Porter, which is brewed at Naked Dove Brewing Co. in nearby Canandaigua. The specialty cocktail of the evening, called Cheeky Monkey, was a concoction of scotch and Aperol, and it was garnished with a rind of an orange. It was flavorful, and the Aperol added a great dry quality.
When it comes to making a decision from a one-page menu, it’s best to trust your gut and order, or close your eyes and point. Especially if everything sounds delicious, the longer it takes to settle on something increases the chances of getting sucked into a hole of contemplation.
In this case, the scallops caught the eyes. Four scallops for $16 came cozily nestled in a blanket of apple Brussels slaw. Bits of crumbled bacon rested on each scallop. The plate was dressed with a Dijon butter sauce. The scallops were cooked perfectly, golden on the sides of the mollusks. The bacon and flavorful sauce complemented the dish really well.
The slaw, however, really caught the attention of the taste buds. The liberal bits of apple buddied up with the shredded Brussels sprouts. The dish itself stands confidently on its own, could serve as a satisfying quick bite.
The entrees came out soon after the scallops and slaw were consumed. The grilled eggplant ($18) and B.V.E. Burger ($13) came out on their respective plates. The burger, which can be prepared as beef or chickpea patty ($10 in comparison), was joined by a side of mixed greens instead of chips. The eggplant was served with sesame coconut rice and grilled asparagus.
The burger was cooked as ordered medium. The Owl House’s B.V.E. burger was juicy and flavorful and topped with sriracha-strawberry jam, crispy onions and vegan garlic mayo. The jam was a pleasant surprise. The flavor would be different without it, a flavor that would be lacking for sure. The bun was perfectly toasted, too, although it was a smidgen too large in proportion to the burger.
The eggplant, which came out in thick slices, was grilled to perfection. There was a good firmness to each piece, and they were far from mushy. Light green roasted jalapeño aioli was drizzled on each eggplant wedge, providing the right amount of heat. The asparagus was delicious and crisp with each bite. The rice also raised eyebrows. The side had a creamy quality without it being too creamy. The rice had a soft mouthfeel, and the coconut catered to the needs of the taste buds.
With 20 percent tip, the total came out to $80 and change. For the quality of food and atmosphere, The Owl House takes flight. It was a wonderful experience, and kudos goes to our server Darren. The bearded fellow kept the service and light, humorous conversation coming. It’s a wonderful place for a date night and a quality night out with friends.
The Owl House
75 Marshall St, Rochester, NY 14607
Tuesday & Wednesday:
11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.; 5 – 10 p.m.
Thursday & Friday:
11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.; 5 – 11 p.m.
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; 5 – 11 p.m.
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; 5 – 10 p.m.
Kitchen closes a half hour earlier each night