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First Bite

Democrat and Chronicle Thursday April 9, 2009
Review based on a one-time anonymous visit by our critic Karen Deyle

Historic Mill Offers Elegant Food

THE PLACE

Located in the Lower Mill in Honeoye Falls, The Rabbit Room is open Thursday evenings for dinner, and Thursday through Saturday for lunch, so you have to be quick like a bunny and seize the occasion. With spring and the Easter holidays at hand, it seemed like a fine time to check it out. The historic 1827 grist mill was purchased about three years ago by a husband and wife team, chef Andy Penner and Alison DeMarco. The majority of their business is event catering, but limited public hours give diners a chance to sample their elegant offerings and look around the beautiful historic structure.

THE FOOD

The Rabbit Room is a member of Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, a regional association that promotes local artisanal culinary treasures. This means that the menu changes weekly, depending on what is in season.

To maximize our choices, we decided to order one entrée with four courses ($40) as a tasting menu and a second entrée as a supplement.

The onion soup (normally $4), one of the chef's signature dishes, has just enough soft onions and a rich but not too salty broth and is topped with a crouton and melted provolone layer. It was a delicious rendition of a classic recipe.

Our second course was a roasted beet salad (usually $9), served in a deconstructed fashion with chunks of goat cheese, candied walnuts, diced red and yellow beets and a lacy mound of mixed spring greens. Blending forkfuls we chose bits of sweet, pungent and earthy, for a bright mix of colors and flavors.

For the main course, I chose the sable fish with Asian influence (normally $29) and my companion supplemented with the pork shanks ($20).

Sable fish is similar to sea bass and was prepared broiled with a light drizzle of Asian dressing and served atop a bed of spring greens with segments of mandarin orange.

It was easy to see why the pork shanks are one of Penner's signature dishes. Usually lamb shanks take the spot light, and occasionally the veal shanks star in osso buco, but this pork dish was exquisite. Two tender hocks were braised until falling from the bone tender and glazed with a sweet tangy hoisin sauce. Served atop a mound of smashed potatoes with a side of steamed asparagus, it was a great selection for both value and taste.

Our duo of desserts offered a small crown of spice cake and a miniature strawberry shortcake. Both homespun desserts were comforting, with the berries reminding us that spring is in the offing.

THE DRINKS

The small hewn wood bar offers a full menu including several good single malt scotch choices.

In keeping with the locally made trend, they offer at least one beer from Custom BrewCrafters, and nearly half of the wines are from the Finger Lakes.

THE ATMOSPHERE

The interior has been preserved to highlight the beauty of the original structure. Hewn wood beams and supports give a warm glow, and the worn wood floor creaks agreeably. The stone walls have deep windows that showcase tall urns holding grape-vine balls woven with tiny white lights.

At the core is an open staircase that leads to the upper floors housing art gallery space and class studios.

NOTEWORTHY

The Mill Art Center and Gallery takes up two floors of the mill building, and Peacock Asian Museum takes up a third. The art center offers a full schedule of art and pottery classes, and gallery openings are accompanied by special tastings at the restaurant. Visit the site and join the e-mail list for notifications.
 


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61 N. MAIN ST., HONEOYE FALLS, NY 14472  :  PH (585) 582-1830  :  FAX (585) 582-2922  : 

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