Steel and exposed brick. Leather couches and live music. An atmosphere that carries industrial undertones yet provides a classy and relaxing setting is what Rochester’s High Falls district is made for. Br has found itself, as general manager Barry Birks puts it, filling the “void between your college bars and places for people over 40.” After a nice dinner at Br, I felt like spending the rest of the night at a place which I would compare to the Old Toad.
After the host sat us beside large windows overlooking the Kodak tower, the server came immediately to get our drink orders. Naturally, being at a place called Br, I reached for the list of their home brews. Their Big Rack Blonde won the bronze medal in a national competition, and for good reason, for it truly is a fantastic beer. The India Pale Ale was full-bodied and had an interesting bitterness. I also enjoyed the Yellow Card Hefeweisen. It was light, crisp and refreshing. The lemon on the glass helped accentuate the sweetness of the brew, which was also very smooth.
They also have creative drinks for non-beer types. Martinis included the mandarintini and the flirtini, with Absolut Raspberry, Alize Passion and cranberry and pineapple juices. Other drinks that stood out on the menu were the Grateful Dead and watermelon margarita. However, one should try the craft beers at this microbrewery. If you can’t decide which to get, there is a sampler for $8.
The server took our order with a smile and was very accommodating. There were so many interesting things on the dinner menu that I just had to pick something at random that looked especially appealing. I ordered Buffalo wings as an appetizer and stuffed pork loins. My dining companion substituted grilled chicken in the grilled Mahi tuna salad, which the server said was absolutely possible. The service throughout the night was friendly and efficient.
As a hardcore wing connoisseur, I like to check out how restaurants are preparing them around town. Br’s chicken wings were large, meaty and somewhat crispy. The hot sauce had just the right amount of sweetness and butter. It wasn’t too spicy for my taste, though. One of the celery sticks was soggy, and some of the wings had a red color toward the bone. However, they came out with a good temperature. All in all, they had good quality wings.
When the stuffed pork loins arrived, they were savory and delicious. The pork was grilled with a red marinade, topped with a sweet and salty gravy that contrasted with the stuffing very well.
The corn, almost crunchy, was bursting with farm-fresh flavor. The wild rice was suitable, but it was slightly under cooked. The stuffing was sweet, probably from the raisins, but I felt that the texture was a little soft. However, the pork was cooked perfectly, and I appreciated the different textures of the stuffing, meat and gravy. My dining companion’s dish, the grilled Mahi tuna salad, with chicken substituted for the tuna, was delightful.
It was an Asian influenced salad that included mandarin oranges, crispy noodles and a tangy dressing. The cold ziti may have been out of place in an Asian-influenced dish. However, the vegetables were very fresh and crunchy. The grilled chicken was tasty and went well with the dressing.
For dessert, we ordered the delicious berry tart. It was served chilled, just the way we like it. A rich and smooth pastry was topped by fresh blueberries and sauce, which was dusted with powdered sugar and garnished with a sweet berry glaze.
As we were finishing, the party at the table behind us was leaving and struck up a small conversation with us. Beth and her husband from Fairport were praising the food and drinks all night. They thought the Thai chicken was very good and the tilapia was “excellent.”
Also, after greeting the Rochester Knighthawks, Birks stopped by to see how everything was. This is one of the many bar/restaurants that he runs, including Boston Beer Works, the fifth largest micro brewery in the U.S. His family is in the business back in his hometown of Boston, Mass., and he’s been managing restaurants since he was 18.
In addition, the owner of Br is part of the family who started High Falls Brewing Co., the makers of Genesee Beer and Honey Brown Lager. This combination of experience has put something great in the High Falls district – where quality is favored over crowds, where you can relax, drink and eat with your friends, and you might just see some Knighthawks or Amerks.
Margolis can be reached at email@example.com.