Chef: John Freezee
The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed the Tuesday evening I stopped by the Erie Grill. Located on premise with the Spa at the Del Monte, the restaurant has large windows and an inviting setting. The highly recommended Duck Meatballs are on my mind, and if you’re like me and don’t know what to expect the answer is a delightful surprise.
This dish is a flavor-inspired masterpiece consisting of 3 large meatballs each served on a cushion of rice and goat cheese and topped with pickled mushrooms and apple cider vinegar sauce. The fork splits the outside of the meatball and meets the fluffy smooth interior. Chef Freezee explains that the buttermilk from Pittsford Dairy across the street creates the appealing internal texture. The flavor of the duck is apparent, and balanced by the earthy flavors of the rice and goat cheese keeping your palate level. Then the sauce announces itself from the background, like a shock wave of flavor, but you’re ready for it — a Peruvian pepper has been utilized because it is potent, but by no means overpowering. It adds the perfect amount of Latin flare to a traditionally sweet and sour sauce.
Chef Freezee’s insistence on otherwise using as many local ingredients as possible pays off, perpetuating responsible food practices for his establishment that can be afforded once per week if you like. “If we’re going to serve it, we’re going to do it right,” he says, listing the local vendors that supply the Erie Grill with it’s diverse ingredients, including Baker Street Bakery, Finger Lakes Produce and Grassland Farms.
Browsing the menu reinforces the idea of delivering interesting food by putting new spins on more familiar dishes. Best of all, the portions are the perfect size for an ordinary appetite, and with so many intriguing options, you’ll want to share. The recommendation to begin with the game-changing duck meatballs cannot be underscored enough, and if you happen to go after work on a Tuesday like I did, you’ll be met with outstanding wine specials and even a waived corking fee so you can bring your own bottle to pair with your first foray into duck.
-Nick Palermo, A-List Contributor