Twenty years as a traveling salesman was more than enough for James Brown. So when he finally decided it was time to set down his roots, he turned to something that sang of home: his passion for cooking. And that passion shines throughout his menu. In the hearty breakfast selections, guests can see it in the signature stuffed french toast?made from bread that's baked in-house?as well as more imaginative items, such as the Greek-inspired diner breakfast with gyro meat. Then there are the half-pound burgers, po-boy sandwiches with Cajun-spiced chicken, and James Brown's legendary Friday-night barbecue. Such a range hints at two things: that James's passion isn't picky, and that his inspiration comes from everywhere. And indeed, if a diner gives James a recipe that matches the standards of his menu, not only will he put it there, he'll even name it after the guest who gave it to him.
This inclusionary style echoes throughout the diner itself. Checkered tiles run across the floor from the front door to the back wall, passing a scattered assortment of tables and booths that look in on the open kitchen. And as a diehard Yankees fan, James fills two entire sections of a wall with memorabilia, including black-and-white photographs of past rosters and fan fiction that imagines the team being comprised only of James Brown clones.
Lovin’ Cup’s owners had a dream of creating a place that celebrates life’s pleasures and offers the unique and personal experience each of their customers seeks. And to achieve that dream, it took the combined efforts of all five owners to truly fill Lovin' Cup to the brim, each one specializing in a different area of the culinary arts or entertainment. The crew started with a simple, delicious menu of familiar eats made right, such as Angus beef burgers, gourmet pizzas, and hearty sandwiches. They paired these, with an array of craft beers on tap – plus more than 50 varieties in bottles – and a carefully curated list of international wines.
To entertain the brain's higher functions, they host game nights every Monday, open mic performances every Tuesday, and live music of every genre on Thursdays. Performances rotate between jazz, alt-country, indie, and rock groups as often as they change out their drafts on tap and, presumably, their socks. And finally, the owners paid similarly close attention to the artistic décor of their space, from the polished wood of their wine racks and tables to the mutable collection of art that peppers the walls.
The soft sounds of live jazz flow through a low-lit restaurant, easing guests into a comfortable state as the aroma of grilled steak and seared fish fills the air. It's just another night at Bistro 135, a multi-level space that hosts local musicians throughout the week on a balcony stage, who spice up the atmosphere as diners savor a fusion of international and American cuisines. Pairs can share blackened jumbo scallops and manchurian cauliflower at high-top tables in the bar area and enjoy their meals in the cozy outdoor courtyard to soak in the warm weather or surprise eclipses.
Helmed by Rochester native Danny Connor, former head chef of Portico and Castaway restaurants, Bella Pasta Café offers up Sicilian and French-influenced fare in a comfortable bistro setting. Lock eyes with the menu's lusty vittles, including appetizers, soups, salads, pasta dishes, and pizza. Seafaring hungerers can reel in an order of Sicilian calamari, which tosses sautéed squid with peppers, kalamata olives, garlic, and spices ($8.95), while meat seekers can load forks with veal asiago, with sautéed sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus all cavorting in an amarsala wine sauce ($15.99). Bella also offers tailor-made meals, such as pasta dinners offering a choice of four pasta types, four sauces, and three meat offerings, ($9.95), which can be customized to suit a variety of tastes and font preferences.
At The Beale, the rhythmic riffs of live-blues music float alongside aromatic scents of pit-smoked barbecue. To launch meals, diners can review or translate the café’s menu into Pig Latin before reeling in the Cajun-battered crawfish ($7.99) that populate platters of mudbugs. The half-pound Santa Fe burger totes a redolent cargo of monterey jack and peppers ($8.99), while slow-smoked pork ($13.99) and blackened delmonico steak ($18.99) step out from behind a grill’s billows. Apple-cider-glazed chicken breast comes with a sweet-potato crust ($12.99 for one breast, $15.99 for two), making for a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves. Capsize feisty appetites with the seafood creole, a sizzling lineup of shrimp, crawfish and deep-sea scallops ($19.99), or attempt to tackle the Concert ($39.99), which harbors enough whitefish, crawfish, brisket and pork ribs to feed two people or 0.14 Mark McGwires.