Wegmans Next Door Bar and Grill - initial reactions
And it kills me to say that; I liked Tastings and I love shopping at Wegmans. They just have a lot to do with this new venture. Given the firm's skill at refining and revising, I expect it will be better eventually, but I'm going to give them a fair amount of time to get there before I try again.
The general idea: lots of "small plates," Japaneese / sushi-intensive (but not exclusive), a handful of entrees, "creative" thin crust pizzas, decent wine and beverage choices. A distinct bar area separated from the dining room, a number of private dining areas off of each.
The general execution of the general idea: sound level in dining room is loud, very unpleasant. Some of it is carry-in from the bar, some is just the consequence of lots of hard surfaces and reusing what was once a drug store for your facility. Lighting is unbalanced and garish in a variety of ways. The service needs a lot of work - pacing was off, there seemed to be a rush of items, literally too many very large "small plates" at once that overwhelmed our 3-person-occupied 4-top, then a lull spent over the dirty remains, then a few other dishes straggling out. Way too much effort needed to get our waiter's attention, yet rapid refilling of our wine glasses from the bottle we had on ice by just about anyone passing by (I assume they were employees ... maybe wine salespeople ?).
The Robata grill items (we had several - beef, chicken, and shrimp skewers and a soy-stewed eggplant) were of mixed quality. Beef was very good, shrimp OK, but small in portion, eggplant OK, and chicken was small, dry, cold, and altogether unimpressive. If you like (very, very) thin and crusty crust pizza, you will probably like theirs; some of us did, some not, but that's more based on preferences going in rather than any problem of Wegmans' making. Ours had a duck breast topping that was tasty. A California roll was fine, but not any different than one you would pick up in just about any grocery store these days. Pappardelle with roasted winter vegtables was a bit dry, maybe predictably bland (and was oddly the one dish served in an undersized vessel). We noted that some tables got bread baskets, we were not one of them (even after asking). The bread looked good. From a distance.
Ended up, pre-tip at about $40 per person, and in Rochester, one can do a lot better for that kind of money. I really want them to improve, and I expect they will, but for now ... meh. Could be a long winter of Nick Tahou Garbage Plates.