One of my readers, Frank, visited a local restaurant and decided to write a review. Here is what he had to say:
One Monday, my wife Lisa and I found ourselves on the Penfield – Webster border for a business appointment. We were a few minutes early. While waiting, we noticed a restaurant next door. It was a bit of a surprise because there is almost no indication of it from the road. You could easily drive right by – even if you were looking for it. Someone didn’t take Marketing 101! So we decided to walk over and look over a menu at the “Sanibel Cottage” with the consideration of dining there after our meeting.
It was 6:30 pm and the parking lot was sparsely populated – rarely a good sign.
We walked in the door and were hit in the face with a stench.
As I’m sure you are well aware, many aromatic plants are ground up and pressed to extract their essential oils for fragrance.
Well, if you could extract the essence of “Old Lady” that’s what this smelled like: Strong, cheap, flowery perfume, mixed with moth balls and maybe a little urine — Not a great smell for a restaurant.
The hostess, bartender, and fewer than six patrons were the only visible occupants. The Hostess was verified to not be the source of the stench.
We gave the menu a quick glance and the offerings looked appealing at a reasonable cost. We concluded that since we were so near, we might return after our meeting to give it a go.
What were we thinking?
After our meeting, we made reference to the restaurant next door and our host commented that Bazil, just down the road, was a far better choice.
‘Nuf said. I wasn’t all too keen on revisiting that stench any way. After all there’s only so far I’ll go to write a review, and that may have been beyond the call of duty.
Now, anyone who’s familiar with the restaurants in the Rochester area should know that “Bazil” is owned by the family who owns “Mario’s.” And the only thing good to come out of the kitchen at Mario’s is… yet to be discovered. But I understand that Scientists are diligently working at it.
It was with great apprehension that we agreed to patronize Bazil. We figured we should put our prejudices aside and collect some facts with a firsthand experience. What have we got to lose?
Actually I’m surprised we haven’t gotten sick from some of these places! But I digress…
Your first visual impression of any of the three (now two) Daniele Family restaurants is mostly positive. They put a lot of effort into the visuals – a lot like Disneyland does. But up close, it’s not as grand, and actually shows a lot worse for wear – also a lot like Disneyland.The food is probably good because a lot of people, eat at these places.
We were promptly seated, because at 7:30 there were very few patrons. Our waiter was an “aw shucks” friendly, twenty-something, albeit a bit socially awkward. He was akin to a 16 year old with size 14 feet: Awkward.
We promptly ordered a Sicilian Calamari appetizer. While reviewing my menu, I watched him set the adjacent table: one side of the table had the silverware on the left of the plate; the other side had them on the right, which probably explains why he was not in school studying Neurosurgery.
He busied himself for nearly 10 minutes, buzzing about from table to table like a bee visits flowers. I was beginning to think that he forgot we had not yet ordered our entrées.
He eventually returned to refill our water and the menus on the table must have given him a clue.
Our appetizer arrived.
The menu describes it as a “traditional Sicilian Calamari,” and we thought that with the ubiquity of calamari on menus these days, it would be a good way to judge the kitchen.
When you get good, fresh seafood, you showcase it; not hide it.
This calamari was so heavily breaded it should have come in a white plastic bag with “WONDER” emblazoned on it.
On a scale of 1 to 10 I’d give it a 6. Everything other than the calamari was flavorful. Not a traditional Sicilian style, but interesting.
Up to this point, we were not put off, nor impressed with the place. We figured the entrees would be the point to turn the table one way or the other.
After an unremarkable salad course, the entrées arrived.
My “Chicken Abruzzi” was a generous portion of two slices of chicken atop the better part of a pound of capellini with artichokes, broccoli, and prosciutto in a lemony “Chicken French” kind of sauce. It looked quite presentable, and it actually smelled good!
My first taste was very pleasing, with some chicken, pepper, and ham in the lemon sauce. Unfortunately, unless you carefully constructed each forkful, it would not hold up to its first impression. The chicken was not seasoned, and, on its own, it was quite bland. Just chicken and egg wash.
This dish was something I would expect at a franchise restaurant like Olive Garden or Carrabba’s Italian Grill, not at a local restaurant owned first generation Italians.
Obviously the Daniele’s are more about simply selling quantity over quality (which would explain the promotional sales literature for their other restaurant, marina, and Florida condos everywhere you looked).
My over-all experience was “as expected”: not-awful, but nothing special yielding no need to return. I’ve collected my data and proven my hypothesis.
My dinner companion didn’t fare quite so well…
Lisa ordered the highly recommended special of the day: “Pollo Ubriaco” which loosely translates to “drunken chicken”.
Well I don’t know who, but someone in the kitchen had to be drunk to present this plate.
It could have been called “hidden chicken” because I didn’t even see any chicken on the plate. Actually it was difficult for me to even look at the plate. Fortunately, it didn’t smell as it appeared.
It looked a lot like something a large dog would have deposited on your living room rug after eating the neighbor’s cat… with some rigatoni.
Lisa was busy dissecting it, trying to figure out what on earth had to die to make this abomination happen. Watching her explore the depths of the mass was like watching an AP Bio class without the lab coats. She was only certain about the pasta, but she couldn’t positively determine what they did to it to screw it up so badly. After all, it’s just pasta: flour, water, and egg.
At one point, she theorized that they pan fried it, but soon dismissed that after collecting no proof. She admitted defeat claiming that it was most likely leftover from the Sunday pasta buffet.
She made me taste it (I will get my revenge) and for as horrible as it looked – it actually had no taste. It was like getting that first piece of pasta from the pot, and your wife or mom asking you: “Is it al dente?” We have no idea what all the inert, red, black, green, and orange colors were; besides repulsive.
Maybe it really was predigested cat.
We will never know.
Needless to say, Lisa didn’t eat it. She, very politely, gave it back to the waiter and sampled some of my flavorless chicken. We paid the bill and went home – hungry.
That’s the scoop! Fun fact — there’s a Bazil in Henrietta, too! It’s in an adjacent plaza to Philips European Restaurant, which has the best desserts in town, and MCC, the local community college.
All pictures in this post were obtained from Google as promotional photos for Bazil.