Getting Out of That Restaurant Rut

Posted January 23, 2013 by Evan Dawson in Regions
The Brown Hound Bistro in Naples, NY | Photo courtesy of VisitFingerLakes.org

The Brown Hound Bistro in Naples, NY | Photo courtesy of VisitFingerLakes.org

You have probably found yourself in a restaurant rut at some point or another. You want to head out for dinner, and you cycle through the same short list of usual restaurant options. They’re your favorites for a reason, but you get to wondering: Is there anything new that we haven’t tried yet? Is there anything we’ve been meaning to try for a while, but haven’t?

How do you break out of that rut? Sometimes it’s about abandoning comfort for a little risk.

In the case of a recent Finger Lakes visit, it was simply about making time to visit a restaurant that’s a bit out-of-the-way for us. For a long time now we’ve been meaning to visit the Brown Hound Bistro in Naples on the southwest side of Canandaigua Lake. It’s grown to enjoy a strong reputation in the region, and the restaurant serves only Finger Lakes wines.

On a recent Sunday, my wife and I met another couple for brunch at the Brown Hound. Most of our dining occasions involve dinner, and brunch can be a banal, predictable affair. Not at the Brown Hound. Check out the menu and you’ll see, as we did, that the restaurant values creativity and local fare.

This was comfort food with a Finger Lakes emphasis. I was more than satisfied with the Fully Monty Cristo, which consisted of smoked ham, turkey breast, caramelized apples and melted New York State cheddar, all stuffed in thick, sourdough French toast layers. It was served with Sugarbush maple syrup, which seemed superfluous at first glance, but then I thought, “Who’s counting calories?” That was a lot of food for ten dollars.

Our entire party was satisfied with the food and with the service. We arrived later than planned, pushing the restaurant’s official Sunday closing time, but we were reassured repeatedly that we could stay as long as we liked. They cemented the point by insisting on extra pours of coffee.

If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t get a chance to try the sweet grass “lambburrito,” described as using local grass-fed lamb, wrapped in a grilled tortilla with tomato, red onion, Lively Run feta and yogurt. Next time.

Brown Hound comes with a very small dining room, so you’ll certainly want reservations — even for brunch. There’s a sign inside that indicates the legal limit is for 12 people; we were assuming that meant the back deck, not the dining room, but the dining room can’t hold more than about sixteen or so. It’s a bit quirky, with interesting music and even a jeroboam of 20-year-old Bordeaux in the window sill. An odd choice, but perhaps there’s a story there.

So what about you? What restaurants are on your list to finally visit?