Thank you to our wonderful guests who without their assistance this recognition wouldn’t be possible… two years in a row (perhaps more). This means a lot to us and we are so happy you enjoyed your stay. That’s what it’s all about.
Summer is in full swing, which is a good excuse to get out of the city. Head south on Route 64, down toward Canandaigua Lake, through Bloomfield, past Bristol Mountain Ski Resort (marvel at the green summer slopes), and stop before you reach Monica’s Pies and downtown Naples. Near the “Y” where Route 64 meets Route 21, sits the Brown Hound Bistro. If you haven’t yet dined there, you’re in for a treat. Simply put, it is one of the best restaurants in the region.
Availing itself of locally grown produce and meats, Brown Hound takes its cues from the season and consistently turns out delicious food. In some restaurants, that might lead to an air of superiority or pretentiousness — not here. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and there to make you happy and comfortable. The interior of the space is warm: Tuscan yellow walls, natural woods, braided rugs, paintings from local artists on the wall. The restroom, tucked under the stairs leading up to the kitchen, is an homage to the restaurant’s namesake, owner Trish Asher’s departed hound, Henry.
Don’t let the occasional pompous patron scare you off. (Guy who groused that his favorite out-of-state microbrew wasn’t on the menu: understand where you are and order the local beer.) If you do, you’ll remove the possibility of having a meal with tastes, scents, and colors so memorable that dishes might bubble into your thoughts at unexpected times. For instance, driving on 490 last week, I found myself longing for a slice or floral-scented apple, deep rose in color, light rose in flavor, gently sweet and slightly firm to the teeth that I’d enjoyed at Brown Hound two weeks earlier.
The rose petal-apple conserve in question is paired with a customer favorite: pan-seared yellowfin tuna with a scoop of risotto and a scattering of micro greens ($30). Like the majority of dishes on the menu, it’s both familiar and unexpected. Each meal’s star attraction is a well-prepared and satisfying rendition of a classic dish. But it’s in the sides where you’ll find the surprises: lovely shocks of color, texture, and flavor that, together, make eating at the Brown Hound both reliable and delightful.
Take the spring house salad ($7). It’s not a plate where you’d expect novelty. In some restaurants, it’s thoughtless: iceberg lettuce, shaved carrots, limp tomatoes, and maybe some corrugated cardboard posing as croutons. Here, however, the house salad plays with sweet (apple, maple) and sharp notes (red onion, shallots, vinegar), making you eager for the next bite. The lively and fresh greens are sourced just miles down the road from Ambrosia Acres Family Farm. And then there’s the scattering of diced and candied bacon. Food writing is oversaturated with declarations of love for bacon, but when it’s good, it’s very, very good. And when its smokiness is enhanced with a touch of sweetness and a bite of pepper, it’s wonderful.
Similarly, the artisan cheese plate ($11) features a mild chevre, muscular blue, and sharp cheddar cheeses — solidly appetizing choices for a Finger Lakes restaurant. Baguette crostinis, crunchy and flavored with olive oil, are eager to be piled with the cheese and — more importantly — the house-made onion marmalade. The marmalade has the texture of chutney: onion slices stand firm against the jam-like background. Cooked for a long time to develop a deep caramelization, the onions are sweetened with brown sugar and perked with ginger and (apple cider?) vinegar. Brown Hound is looking into to bottling the marmalade for sale; home cooks — myself included — will be lucky if it happens.
A few words about chicken. The menu’s chicken breast ($24), locally sourced from Sweet Grass Farm, is plump and juicy, but it’s still a chicken breast. What interests is its pairing: carrot sambal. Unlike South African or Asian carrot sambals, this is pureed smooth but retains a sambal’s spicy, warm heat. It’s the star of the entree, elevating the entire dish in the way a bold necklace can enliven a simple black shift dress.
A few more words about chicken: the chicken Moroccan ($38) is a shared plate, with two robust thighs and drums, a heap of couscous studded with dried fruits, and romesco sauce. The chicken’s skin is a deep tawny and crisp, almost as if fried, and the meat is succulent. Here, again, the sides shine: fat, sweet dates recall the dish’s namesake, while the romesco sauce reflects the piquancy of red peppers.
Lest I’ve made you think that there’s only poultry on the menu, pay attention to the Incredible Wellington ($32), a fillet of beef topped with Lively Run Cayuga bleu cheese and wrapped in puff pastry, served with bordelaise sauce, mashed potatoes, and mushroom duxelles; and the spring risotto ($21), showcasing seasonal vegetables and parmesan cheese.
If you go for brunch, make an effort to sit out on the wrap-around porch, shaded by a brick-red-and-white-striped awning. (Don’t worry if it’s chilly; the bistro has fleece blankets on hand to keep you warm.) Among my favorites are the French onion soup ($5), a hearty crock that gets the balance of salty and savory with crunchy and cheesy just right; the Sweet Grass lamb burrito ($11), featuring grass-fed lamb topped with tomato, red onion, and Lively Run feta; or the French Hill Toast ($7), made with homemade cinnamon-swirl bread and served with local Sugarbush Hollow maple syrup. (Go early if you want to order that last dish; I’ve often found that the restaurant runs out of cinnamon bread if I get there after 11:30 a.m.)
And last, but not least, if pastry chef Emmy Wilk’s toffee blondie sundae ($6) is available, order it. A blondie is a soft and chewy bar cookie flavored with vanilla and brown sugar. The blondie here is studded with toffee and the sundae is drizzled with salted caramel sauce for a sweet, salty, buttery, chewy treat. Even if you have to eat dessert after breakfast — even if you ate the Omega pancakes ($5 for a short stack) made with buttermilk, Birkett Mills’ buckwheat, ground flaxseed, and blueberries — who cares? It’s worth it
Sometimes it truly is the little things that make me happy…
For the nearly nine years that I have been the Innkeeper at the 1795 Acorn Inn, guests have gotten two keys upon arrival; one for the front door and the Dining Room door and one for their respective rooms. Since the Inn is locked at all times, these keys made it possible for guests to come and go as they please. Always in the back of my mind though was the thought that although these keys say do not duplicate, they (name not to be mentioned) duplicate them for me as needed. So, why couldn’t guests get them duplicated and come back at any time? I’m not thinking of the kind, respectful, wonderful guests that I usually have the pleasure of meeting…
So, years ago I decided to make the investment and purchase Schlage locks with keypads. This year, when my fabulous brother Roger was visiting, he installed them for me. And, now that I have gotten adept at programming and deprogramming, my vision is complete.
Upon arrival, guests are asked to provide a four-digit code that would be easy for them to remember. Their code is programmed into the locks and voila… they can come and go as they please. Upon their departure, their code is removed from the system. Simple.
For those guests that cannot make our regular check in hours of 3:00 to 5:00 pm and have made arrangements in advance of their stay for a late check in, we can input their code of choice on the day of their arrival. Once inside the Inn, they are able to follow our simple self-check process and use their personal code for their entire stay..
So far, so good. And, I am happy to say, another improvement completed.
Take a stroll through the nine gardens at Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion or visit one of the many historic homes and mansions in Ontario County, replete with period furnishings and architectural grandeur of the Victorian, Federal and Greek revival periods. Sonnenberg Mansion & Gardens, 151 Charlotte Street, Canandaigua. 585-394-4922.
During the month of May head over to Geneva, NY and check out the Rose Hill Mansion and Johnston House both once working farms in the Finger Lakes.Take a step back in time to explore these historic estates and learn about historic farming techniques. Contact the Geneva Historical Society for tickets, tours and more! Located at 543 South Main St, Geneva 14456 (315) 789-5151.
Join the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection as it unveils the photography, art, local products and people of Ontario County that helped to make the happiest Visitors Guide ever! Finger Lakes Visitors Connection is showcasing travel happiness in Ontario County with the 2013 Travel Happiness Art Show. The public is invited to the Opening Reception on May 10 from 5 pm to 7 pm at Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars in Naples. For questions contact FLVC at (585) 394-3915.
The Ganondagan State Historic Site is now open! Learn about local Native American History at the site of a 17th century Seneca Village. Make sure to visit the self-guided hiking trails, the 1670 bark long-house replica and Visitors Center. 1488 New York 444 Victor, NY 14564 (585) 742-1690.
The signs of summer are starting to appear! Head to the northern shores of Canandaigua Lake and kick-off summer at The Inn on the Lake – Sand Bar! Featuring live music weekly and great food specials! If you have a boat in the water, feel free to dock along the waterfront at the hotel to take in the sound waves! 770 South Main St. Canandaigua, NY 14424 (585) 394-7800.
Hit the links at Ravenwood Golf Club in Victor. In 2003 Golf Digest Rated it the #5 “Best New Public Course in America.” On Mother’s Day, Mom plays golf for free! 929 Lynaugh Rd., Victor. (585) 924-510.
Spring is here and summer is near! Time to hop on a bike and ride around the lakes! Bike rentals are available at R&E Bike and Skate, 168 S.Main St., Canandaigua, (585) 393-5680 and Geneva Bicycle Center, 489 Exchange St., Geneva, (315) 789-5922. Or, bring your own bikes and check out a fabulous resource at the 1795 Acorn Inn… Take Your Bike, a list of bike trails in the Finger Lakes.
For years I’ve been looking for new chairs for the Angell Room. Not too big. Just the right color. Comfy. Matching. And the list goes on… But, I’ve never been able to find the ones I want. I have two chairs and beautiful, expensive fabric that I purchased a while back sitting in my office. The plan has always been to have new slip covers made. But, I can’t find anyone to sew them. So, I thought I would take on the task myself. How hard could it be, right? I plow the driveway in the winter, clean out the gutters, re-screen windows, do minor repairs, sew curtains and draperies for the canopy beds… I can surely sew slipcovers. Then, just when I’m not looking, I find the perfect chairs. Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.
A HUGE thanks to Amanda for helping me paint the outside of the Inn by the Hotchkiss Room! When the house was painted last fall there was a climbing hydrangea on a trellis that covered the wall. This spring my landscaper took the trellis down and removed the plant. Painting that last bit of the Inn has been on my list of things to do for what seems like forever. Today, I get to check it off.
I feel so very fortunate to have the staff working with me that I do. I couldn’t do this without them… Amanda, Kristen, Juli, Judy, Donna and Carson. And even though technically she doesn’t work with us anymore… Audrey. Thanks Ladies!