Even if you’re not one of the thousands of people who work downtown, it’s worth a trip into the city for breakfast or lunch at Red Osier’s newest location. Situated in the lower level of the Monroe County Office Building on West Main Street, Red Osier Metro Café offers everything from breakfast sandwiches ($3) to fruit and yogurt parfaits ($3) and, of course, its signature roast beef.
Set up to emulate a deli market — with cooler cases lining the walls, bench-seated tables and counter service under two giant flat screens — you’re immediately drawn to the hot roast beef, a must-try classic. Choose from sweet barbecue sauce, rich melted cheese, or savory mushrooms to top the tender and juicy prime rib of beef au jus, which is legendary for a reason. The roast beef is piled atop your choice of hard roll, which is deceivingly delicate and perfect for soaking up the juices, or try the western New York favorite, kummelweck ($6 to $9). Not surprisingly, the restaurant sells about 100 sandwiches a day.
And the choices don’t stop there. Red Osier also offers pulled slow-cooked pork, pastrami on rye ($6 to $9), Zweigle’s hots ($3 to $5), and boneless Buffalo-style wings ($4.50 to $8.50). If sandwiches and hots aren’t your beat, go with the fresh pizza made from scratch ($3 a slice). The beef-on-weck pizza, when it’s available, will satisfy your regional taste buds.
In a salute to Rochester’s men in blue, specialty sandwiches are named after individual police officers. Both presented on hard rolls, the “Mickey” mingles roast beef with pastrami for a meat-licious sandwich. The “Kenny 2” combines pulled pork, cole slaw and Swiss cheese, a play on the Reuben. ($7.50).
Add a tasty side such as cole slaw, mac salad, pasta salad, potato salad, or the soup of the day ($2.50) and you’ve got yourself a munificent midday meal.
For nimbler options, choose from the fresh sandwiches, wraps and salads ($4 to $6) prepared daily on-site and neatly organized in a grab-and-go cooler.
When asked how business is at Red Osier’s only public free-standing location (current alternate sites include the airport and sports stadiums), manager Deann Distaffen says: “Things are going really well. We’ve been very busy since opening in May.” She adds that the place even is open to customer suggestions and has offered varied, off-the-menu specials like lasagna — homemade, of course.
Red Osier takes pride in supporting other western New York favorites such as Zweigle’s, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Holy Cow! That’s a Big Cookie ($2.50), all of which you can find at the West Main Street location.
Antinore is a Rochester-area freelance writer; she is filling in while Karen Miltner is away.
Red Osier Metro Cafe
Address: 39 W. Main St. (Monroe County Office Building, lower level)
Phone: (585) 413-0151.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Accessibility: Wheelchair access available via elevator.
Good to know: Special offers run frequently, including “buy one, get one free.”