Saturday, March 26, 2016

Atlas Eats


In our city of Rochester, we continue to have a growing number of restaurants with a focus on fresh food with high quality ingredients.  Atlas Eats, located in Irondequoit, is one of those restaurants.  Atlas Eats has become a must-visit spot, whether you are craving breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Atlas Eats is owned by Gerry and Diane Brinkman, who have a long history in the restaurant and culinary field.  Gerry and Diane previously owned the Rochester Club restaurant for close to 10 years, then operated a small hotel and restaurant in the Thousand Islands, called The Wellesley Hotel for 9 more years.  This location was open for only 3 months in the summertime, but filled up quickly with diners searching for great meals and moments to share.  Gerry and Diane knew that they wanted a change and had their eye on a location right up the street from where they were living.  The space, an "old fashioned store-front with big windows" that is now Atlas Eats, became available and the concept of Atlas Eats officially began.


Family is a large part of Atlas Eats and it has always come first.  Anna Brinkman, daughter and Chef de Cuisine for Atlas Eats began helping in the kitchen at 6 years old.  She remembers standing on top of a milk crate to reach the countertops to chop zucchini and squash for nightly dishes.  As a teen, she worked at the Wellesley Hotel and this is where she realized her true passion of culinary arts.  Her father, Gerry, taught Anna and her friends the art of cooking with high quality ingredients and working in fine dining.  Gerry has taught many others at MCC as a culinary arts teacher working with international cuisine.  Celeste Brinkman, Anna's Italian grandmother, was also an inspiration.  She worked in the Wellesley Hotel through the age of 91! Anna remembers watching her grandmother rolling cavatelli pasta, snipping beans, and peeling shrimp.  "She was amazing!" Anna reflects.

When creating the concept for Atlas Eats, Gerry and Diane knew that they wanted to incorporate and feature local produce and products available throughout the entire year.  Ben and Emma (Gerry and Diane's daughter) own Pachamama Farm in Farmington and provide much of the organic produce during the growing season.  Pachamama Farm also connects with other local businesses, such as Butapub, Good Luck, and Lento.  Dishes are created around beautiful and fresh ingredients that are provided locally.  For more information about Pachamama Farms and joining their CSA to have a share of fresh farm produce and ingredients, click here.

As you walk into Atlas Eats, you walk right by the bakeshop.  You will see Brenda Robak, baker, greeting you with a smile.  She has worked with Gerry and Diane since the 80s at the Rochester Club.  She began as a busser, while attending the Eastman School of Music and has not looked back since!  In the bakeshop, you will find a variety of classic baked goods that are popular around the world, which is incorporated into the concept of Atlas Eats.  Examples include chocolate financiers and variety of macaron flavors, which are desserts from France, as well as lamingtons, an Australian dessert (spongecake, dipped in chocolate and covered in coconut), and linzer tortes, which are a German dessert.  Bread is also a passion at Atlas Eats kitchen, particularly of Gerry and Diane.  You will find a variety of breads offered.  A recommendation from a close friend is to stop by Atlas Eats to grab some of the loaves for you to eat at home.  However, if you are sending someone else, make sure that you are sending someone who you can trust to bring back the full loaf, as the bread can be quite addicting.  You will go in for one bite and realize that you have only half left when you arrive home.

Gerry and Diane are not only inspired by local ingredients when creating their menus, but also from their travel and exploration of new restaurants and food trends.  They also research recipes and create their own modern spin on amazing dishes.  One of my favorite meals was An Italian Roadtrip during the end of October through the beginning of November 2015.  Each course of the meal was amazing, but my favorite had to be the Maltagliati with Cauliflower and Leeks.  My goal is to try my best to re-create this meal at home...or at least get as close to it as I can.  The fresh pasta cooked perfectly, paired with the cauliflower and leeks in a light creamy sauce, was perfection!


On the Italian Roadtrip, we also tasted the Risotto crostini with Raddichio, Guanciale and Mascarpone.  The second course was a Ribollita, which was so delicious, we wanted to lick our bowls clean!  Before the next dish was served (the Maltagliati), I had a chance to get into the kitchen and watch Gerry and Anna prepare this dish!  While the kitchen was small, they swiftly moved about like ballet dancers creating an amazing performance.  The aromas wafted in the air and I found myself even more excited for the next course to come.
Risotto Crostini













Anna Brinkman serving up Maltagliati

After the Maltagliati, came the Swordfish chop with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.  You might be thinking at this moment, there was no way we could eat anymore.  However, we were then presented with Chestnut and Chocolate Pudding with Zaleti, a traditional Italian Cookie.  Eat we did!  The dessert was simply delicious and myself, as well as my husband could not say enough about this dessert.  Gerry later said that he hand-picked the chestnuts for this amazing dish.


Swordfish Chop with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

After visiting Atlas Eats for the first time, you will find yourself frequently checking their bi-weekly menu changes for dinners.  "The creativity behind everything about Atlas Eats is what I enjoy most" says Anna Brinkman.  Anna explains that while it can be hard work to come up with the changing menu, it brings excitement and enjoyment to Gerry, Diane, Anna, and the staff.  Anna explained that our city of Rochester has contributed to the quick growth of Atlas Eats.  Atlas Eats has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and blogs multiple times.   If you visit the news tab of Atlas Eats on their website, you will see this section dedicated to some of the highlights of Atlas Eats through media in Rochester.  Atlas Eats does not put out advertisements, but has grown immensely due to word of mouth- people sharing the great food and experiences that they have every time they eat at Atlas Eats.

Atlas Eats continues to have tours around the world every weekend, on Fridays and Saturdays.  Their seating is at 6 pm or 8:30 pm.  Reservations are highly recommended as they book up fast!  Gerry, Diane, Anna, Brenda, and the rest of the staff get to know their customers, as many come in for the bi-weekly menu changes.  Atlas Eats is also open Thursday through Sunday from 9-3 for breakfast and lunch, except Sundays, which is breakfast all day until 3.

Myself and Gerry Brinkman after dinner!
What is next you may ask?  I am dying to try the kimchi pancakes!  I also need another world tour.  Check out their menus regularly to have your taste at the next location they will be visiting.  Take your next food adventure tour at Atlas Eats!

Atlas Eats
2185 N. Clinton Ave.
For Reservations:  585-544-1300