Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Humphrey House in Penfield
There's something about cold, snowy nights that make even the most hardy Rochesterians stay close to home. That's the primary reason a group of friends from the eastern suburbs chose the Humphrey House (on Route 441 in Penfield) to meet for dinner and drinks. It turned out to be a good -- but not perfect -- choice.
The Humphrey House has been a Penfield institution for as long as I can remember. My husband and I went there years ago (in the 1990s?) and I remember it having a dark atmosphere, heavy menu and gray-haired clientele. Since then, the restaurant has gone through some ownership changes. In the process, the decor was brightened and updated. The menu also changed to lighter, more casual fare, including wood-fired pizzas.
We went on a Friday at 6:30, just in time to take advantage of the buy one/get one happy hour for beer, wine and well drinks. We spent awhile visiting at the bar, and by the time we were seated for dinner, we all were in a great mood.
The dining room is quiet and cozy, with a fireplace, lots of exposed wood and interesting antiques. Most of the tables were couples or foursomes, all adults in their 40s and up, so our table of eight women was by far the loudest in the place. It made me a bit uncomfortable. (Although there's a kids menu, I can't imagine taking kids there unless they are exceptionally quiet and well behaved.)
The service was a bit slow. When our waitress came to take our order, we asked her to return in a few minutes because everyone hadn't decided. We waited several minutes and finally had to flag her down. But once we got our food, everyone was happy. Several people ordered wood-fired pizzas and liked their choices. I had a special shrimp and pasta dish, which a few others ordered. Often when I order pasta at a restaurant, the portions are so huge that I feel like I could roll out of the place. This dish was just the right size that I was satisfied but not stuffed ... and I ate every delicious bite. We agreed we'd order it again.
After dinner, a few of us were intrigued by the antiques throughout the dining room and bar and went to inspect them close up. It turns out that the house used to be owned by Doc Humphrey, and the antiques were memorabilia from him. It was fun checking them out.
By the time we left at just past nine, the dining room was empty (although the bar wasn't). I've come to notice that this isn't unusual for Penfield restaurants. I'm guessing the people in their 20s and 30s, who go out and stay out later, tend to head to the city. That could be a clue as to why so many Penfield restaurants seem to come and go. I do hope the Humphrey House sticks around for awhile. Because of the quiet atmosphere, it's probably not the place I'd choose for another ladies' night out, but I'd certainly return for a quiet dinner with my husband.