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Strange Design’s Conventional Concept

Something good is brewing at Geneseo public house

By Christopher Malone

Right off the bat, it’s hard to dislike Strange Design in Geneseo.

The brewery, describing itself as a public house, takes on many hats. Yes, brewery is obviously one of them. It also is a purveyor of comfort food, historical preservation and simply good vibes.

To go off of the Phish song Strange Design takes its name from, the band pianist Page McConnell croons, “Just relax, you’re doin’ fine.” This is what the establishment is going for.

The space evolved into Geneseo’s first brewery; the owners had no choice to set a precedent.

Aside from a clean atmosphere, the exterior and interior of the former Livingston County Poor House is beautiful. Some may think the place is haunted just by the looks of things, but kudos go to its owners for keeping and caring for many of the historical aspects. And with consideration to such care, the same value should be felt by its patrons, right?

Our family felt completely welcome when we walked through the door. We, along with our two-legged and four-legged children in tow, were seated comfortably. Our baby was provided a highchair and our dog was gifted water. The friendliness of the staff continued the remainder of the meal.

We kicked off the meal with a couple flights ($24), which I’m not going to go through the entire gamut of what we ordered but we enjoyed many of the styles Strange Design has crafted, especially the stout and an IPA on tap. We even walked away with a hazy IPA to go ($15 per fill, $3 per howler).

We kicked off the meal with Brussels sprouts nachos ($15), which was a huge portion starter living up to the definition of shareable. The house-made crispy cool ranch chips were joined by crispy sprouts, banana peppers, and squash — all of which were covered by a blanket of cheddar cheese. It also comes with crumbly gorgonzola, which we asked for on the side because any member of the blue cheese family is gross and ruins food due to the overpowering nature of moldy cheese — but that’s my opinion.

So we could get our little dinosaur of a child fed before she began roaring, Strange Design was very cool with cooking up a chicken breast ($5) to go with a side portion of macaroni and cheese ($5). The chicken was very well seasoned and the mac and cheese was super cheesy and hit the spot. She ate the other food we ordered, too, and enjoyed what was placed in front of her perhaps too much.

Beer-braised corned beef was eye catching while reading the description of the Reuben sandwich ($15). Nestled between toasted slices of rye sat the savory meat, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing — the usual suspects all of which were guilty of stacking up deliciously.

The size of sandwich was just enough. The corned beef was far from dry, which made each bite even better. When it comes to Reubens, you either like ‘em or you don’t. How this fared to others I’ve had, it’s up there in the Top 5.

The mockingbird sandwich is a good ol’ fried chicken sandwich ($15) with a little kick. The incredibly crispy chicken, not to the point where the battered and fried fowl cuts your mouth, is buttermilk battered and dipped in hot sauce. To up the ante, the chicken is joined with dill pickle spears and white barbecue sauce.

Similar to the Reuben, the sandwich packed a flavorful punch, coming across larger than it actually was. The coated chicken boasted a nice crunch giving way to white, tender meat.

The sandwiches came with sides and we opted for fries and a side salad. The hand-cut fries had the light crispiness, but were soft to bite into. The side salad, dressing aside, was made up of fresh vegetables. There were countless crunches with each bite.

There was no room for dessert, unfortunately.

After food, taxes, tip, credit card surcharge and the extra growler of beer brought back with us, the bill came to $130.

There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to Strange Design. On a personal note, I wanted to season Phish references into this article but feared not everyone would understand the references. But I’ll end on this note: Strange Design had me bouncing around the room.

Strange Design Public House

4570 Millennium Drive, Geneseo, NY 14454


Sunday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Monday: Closed

Tuesday: 4-9 p.m.

Wednesday – Thursday: noon – 10 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: noon – midnight