One Sunday evening in early May, while preparing to perform in the schools of this Rochester, NY region, I literally stumbled upon the chock full parking lot of the Yard of Ale restaurant.
A full parking lot out in the middle of nowhere is a fine recommendation for a restaurant. I pulled into the lot and joined the other patrons inside. The dishes I walked past looked hand made, interesting, well-proportioned.
The special that caught my eye that evening was a Chipotle-Bourbon Pork Chop with crispy onions, garlic mashed potatoes, beans and summer squash.
I started the meal with a local beer and an optional caesar salad (a real caesar salad, by the way: anchovies obvious in the dressing and optional on the salad itself…the best caesar salad I’ve had in years).
The chop was spectacular. Done medium, moist with grill marks (not easy to do in a busy restaurant), with a lovely balance of smokey chipotle and sweet bourbon. The green beans and squash were toothsome and brightly colored. The garlic mashed potatoes were actually made from real garlic and real mashed potatoes.
Followed by good coffee and a reasonable bill, this is a place to put on your own internal map and hunt down if you’re in the area. It was friendly, relatively quiet, as establishments that are in old homes and inns usually are (small rooms and hall spaces). And in just unlikely enough a spot to be a wonderful surprise to the traveler.
Tell Brian and Ed I sent you.
Chef Brian Simmons
Brian grew up in Nunda, NY, son of Patricia and Dennis Simmons. He first started working in restaurants as a dishwasher at the age of 15, at State Street Station in Nunda. He attended SUNY Morrisville and earned an Associates degree in 2000 in Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts. While there he fell in love with the profession and excelled more than he had anticipated. During his second year in the program, he began working part-time, mostly during breaks, at the Yard of Ale. He gained increasing responsibility over the years, eventually becoming Chef. His dedication to the restaurant has only grown since then, along with his continuing passion for creating unique, eclectic dishes from fresh, high-quality food.
Brian’s greatest culinary influence has been Chef Bobby Flay, whose hearty and bold All-American dishes have inspired him for years.
He and his wife, Liz, live in Piffard with a brand new addition to the family; Audrey Josephine.
A native of Long Island, Ed has spent more than 30 years in the restaurant business. He came to the area years ago to attend SUNY Geneseo. After graduating, Ed stayed and later worked in many local restaurants, from the Beachcomber to Knickers. He was the food and beverage manager at the Holiday Inn for 8 years before selling liquor and wine for the past 26 years. Ed recently became partner in running the Yard of Ale with long time friend Brian in August 2007. Ed’s cooking abilities cross many cuisines, but his true love is in Cajun style, featuring the blackening of chicken, meats and seafood.
Brian Simmons, Chef
Yard of Ale/Canal House Inn
3226 Genesee Street, Rte 63
Piffard, NY 14533