New Restaurant - The Owl House
Back when we went to Belgium Comes to Cooperstown in July, we were introduced to Pretty Things Brewery. The brewery representatives at their booth heard we were from the Rochester area and immediately brought up The Owl House. I wish I remember exactly how they described their relationship with the restaurant, but I believe they mentioned that ex-brewery employees moved to Rochester and opened it. Some online research to find the details came up empty. (If you know them, please post in the comments!). Regardless, that's the reason why it was high on our New Restaurants list.
We went ahead and made reservations for a Saturday evening right at the end of October. We waited that long because we wanted to make the trip an anniversary celebration for us. We started dating 14 years ago! The reservation didn't end up being overly necessary as the dining area was about half full upon our arrival at 6pm. I really appreciate going out to eat knowing a table is waiting for you though, so the fact that The Owl House is one of the few Western New York restaurants to support OpenTable is much appreciated.
When you enter the restaurant you are greeted by a stylish bar area and modest seating area. A host was there to greet us. Prior to being shown to our table, we were asked which type of menu we'd prefer. They offer entire menus full of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. We opted for the standard one. The primary dining area is upstairs in the restaurant-converted house. For a small restaurant, they definitely have it set up in a way that maximizes their space.
Given that the restaurant was recommended to us by beer people, we immediately dove into the draft list to pick something out. Sadly, there were no Pretty Things beers available. It would have been nice to honor the recommendation, but beers from the Boston brewery are actually quite rare in this area. Heather and I each picked a beer from the draft list. It's always a collaborative process because we like to try each other's. That way it's like we both got two beers. Sadly, upon ordering we discovered that one of the two beers we picked was no longer available. I went to a backup plan and ordered a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. It was on their specials menu which I just assumed meant it was on draft. 90 minute is a pretty common (but still good) craft beer. Having it on draft is substantially less common so I was quite bummed to see the server bring it out in a bottle.
The Owl House has an interesting take on how they do their menus. The everyday list only includes sandwiches and starters; no entrees. They then have a rotating specials list that features two or three entrees and three or four desserts. We started our meal out with an appetizer, some Buffalo chicken cigarillos. These were great, handmade fried roll-ups that we could dip in a blue cheese sauce.
As we were picking our main courses, I was a bit disappointed that the menu didn't feature a grass-fed beef burger. Knowing the vision the restaurant has, I just expected this to be on the menu and I was in a burger mood. I found a great alternative though called the Big Licky. It's a BBQ pork sandwich with awesome pickled onions on it that gave it a great tangy kick. I scarfed the whole thing down quickly. On the side I opted for the homemade chips. While I'm not usually a plain, salted chip fan, these didn't disappoint.
Heather went with The Bywater, a fried tilapia sandwich. She definitely enjoyed it as she also polished it off. The fish was nice and crispy.
They are definitely doing something right with the portion sizes at The Owl House. After a shared appetizer and two main courses we still had room to be excited about a dessert. The one on the menu that caught our eye was a chocolate mint brownie made right at the restaurant. Upon ordering it, our waiter started asking us if we wanted some random vegan/vegetarian friendly whipped cream on it. We couldn't quite make out what he said but Heather announced, "We want the real stuff!" I laughed and was happy she took command of the situation. The brownie was very good and a great ending to the meal.
Overall, we were very happy with our experience at The Owl House. It's definitely a restaurant we will be going back to. The vegetarian options put it at the top of our list for places to take my sister next time she is in town.
Update: We were able to take my sister there. Check out our post about it.
You just read one of Upstate Crumbs' monthly New Restaurant posts. Each month, Mike and Heather will make it a point to eat at a restaurant they have never eaten at before and post about it. Want to follow us on the local journey? Check out our Foursquare List
Mike on November 11, 2011 at 5:38pm EST
the owl house