Stepping into this small restaurant on East Avenue in Rochester’s East End, the dining room exudes comfort. Rich, burgundy walls and a cream-coated, old-fashioned, tin ceiling are complemented by the soft, upholstered banquettes along the walls. While the tables lining the banquettes create intimate and comfortable dining spaces, one’s attention can’t help but be drawn to the display in the picture window at the front of the restaurant – a bulky, oaken table flanked with “carefully” mismatched chairs that inspire visions of grandma’s dining room. It is a whimsical setting for a unique family dining experience or larger dinner party.
The menu has selections of appetizers, salads, specialty entrees and a focus on “comfort” foods – meatloaf, mashed potatoes, roasted chicken, to name a few. An entire section of the menu is devoted to the ultimate comfort food– “mac & cheese” prepared in a surprising variety of combinations. There are also vegetarian “comfort” selections like veggie stuffed eggplant or eggplant parmesan. The wait staff will be glad to describe a small selection of daily specials in addition to the main menu. The food is well prepared and beautifully presented.
During a recent sampling, the daily steak special was artfully displayed with generous accompaniments of roasted potatoes and baby carrots. The steak was cooked with a flavorful, zesty seasoning that had just the right spicy aftertaste and was so tender it seemed to melt in the mouth. The Rueben mac & cheese was a pure delight. The diced corned beef, blended throughout, added heartiness to the flavor. The tangy sauerkraut brought more depth to the dish and gave an unexpectedly pleasing texture to the meal. The dollop of sauce which topped the “Rueben in a bowl” was the equivalent of icing on a cake; a surprising addition that most would never expect with macaroni and cheese and the perfect final sweetness to complete the unique creation.
The staff was attentive and genuinely interested in the opinions about the foods. Service was steady, beginning with a warm baguette with honey butter for starters and efficiently followed with side salads and perfect timing of the delivery of the entrees.
The prices at Shea’s are reasonable and well in line with local price points. A recommendation to those sampling the restaurant is to add a side salad for the few extra dollars it will cost. All the salad dressings are homemade at Shea’s and are delicious, especially the roasted pepper vinaigrette which was light with a flavor that was both sweet and peppery at once. The salads are a colorful blend of leaves, greens and vegetables arrayed like art on the plates.
The next visit will be planned during the harsh winter months when the warm, hearty menu selections will be an even greater comfort, unless the temptation to sample another new mac & cheese becomes too great to resist.
Shea’s Food and Winetap
330 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14604
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday, 5:00 p.m. until…