The art of dating is a complicated one. The myriad of questions that go through one’s mind – What do I wear? What do I say? Do I laugh now? – are all enough to make dating a nuisance. One way to make the courtship process eaiser is by choosing the perfect venue for a date.

Alas, I have found it in Rochester, and it’s brand new. Jack Lavere’s, located at 682 Park Avenue, offers the ideal relaxed ambience for a party of two or a group of friends. Having opened in early August of 2006, Jack Lavere’s home is the former Big Apple Caf that many UR students held dear to their heart, and is conveniently on the RTS 72 Red Line.

Jack Lavere’s is known for its European “French-Italian” fusion and, having recently booked my ticket to France over Thanksgiving, I figured I’d do a little research on the cuisine. Arriving before 6 p.m. on a Friday without reservations was a risk I took; however, be warned. Although luck, and my fantastic waitress Margot, were on my side, I highly recommend calling ahead and making reservations.

The small size, intricately decorated, orange walls with the sun-setting colors peering through the windows, the thoughtfully placed lighting, along with the calming jazz music in the formal background, made it feel straight out of Paris.

And the food, you may ask? Well, for starters they brought freshly baked bread to dip into oil and garlic, something more restaurants in Rochester need to start doing.

The simple menu offered a variety of omnivorous entres, albeit lacking in vegetarian options. For an appetizer, my date and I shared delightful homemade deep fried pierogies stuffed with butternut squash, asiago cheese and herbs. Soon after, my chicken picatta and his grilled salmon came on through. The chicken, dusted in seasoned flour, egg washed and pan seared and served with white wine lemon sauce, melted in my mouth with every bite I took. Served over perfectly cooked linguine, the entre, alongside a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, was exactly what I was looking for. His grilled salmon, served with root vegetable Ratatouille, was delicately prepared with herbs and subtle spices.

Some pleasant discourse later and a crowd quickly filling the restaurant, it was time for my favorite portion. Now, those who know me know that if crme brle is on the dessert menu there is no chance I will pass it up – it is, after all, the dessert of the gods. There was no exception for Jack Lavere’s with their sumptuously mouth-watering crme brle.

All in all, it is a perfect location for a perfect date and a perfect way to start off the night.

Buitrago can be reached at

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