Since returning to Rochester, I have been looking to eat at new and different restaurants. Recently, the buzz has been all about Lento, located in the Village Gate. Lento serves local, seasonal foods with a menu that changes daily. Their name attests to their commitment to the slow food movement, as it means slow in Italian. Alex and I made a couple date with our good friends, Mike and Alissa to take advantage of Lento’s Tuesday $1 oyster special and see what all the buzz is about.
We arrived right on time for our 7:30 dinner reservations, but there was no one to be found at the host’s booth. Even though we waited about 5 minutes to be seated, our table was ready. We were seated in the elevated back area of the restaurant, in a cozy corner. Even though I usually prefer eating outside in the summer, Lento’s warm atmosphere inside was absolutely inviting.
We waited on our fourth (my husband) for about 20 minutes, and perhaps because of that no one approached our table until then. It felt a litle bit long, but did give us a chance to really look over the menu, which had just enough choices of many interesting and appetizing dishes. We ordered cocktails for drinks, a new kick we’ve been on, and while I wasn’t blown away by the classics, Alex had a very creative concoction of beer, tequila, honey, lime and hot sauce that impressed.
As appetizers, we ordered a dozen oysters and the poutine. Poutine is a French-Canadian dish of fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. We ordered the works, which included bacon, brisket and foie gras. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was gluten-free and very much enjoyed the indulgent starter. The oysters were meaty enough and fresh tasting and came with a vinegar-shallot sauce to give them some flavor.
The entree selection wasn’t huge, but every dish was appealing, and 3/4 were gluten-free. I chose the scallop risotto which came with 4 perfectly cooked and seasoned scallops. The risotto was also flavorful and cooked to the Italian al dente standard. Mixed in was corn and beurre blanc to sweeten in, chive and leek to add bite, and lobster mushroom to give an interesting visual- it didn’t have a huge flavor. The portions were seemingly small, but after 3 scallops and most of my risotto, I was full, and gave the rest to my husband.
We looked at the dessert menu, but in contrast to the rest of th emenu, nothing was interesting enough to tempt us. All in all, Lento was a fabulous dining experience minus the slow service in the beginning. Lento lured us in last night with their $1 oyster special, but we’ll be returning because of the local, seasonal dishes and warm ambience.