A hint of the Seine on the Erie Canal
Joey B’s serves French-accented cuisine in Fairport
As charming as urban sidewalk cafés can be, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi that draws diners to the waterside where they can sip chilled wine and listen to waves lapping quietly against boats moored to the docks.
Joey B’s Restaurant at Packetts Landing in Fairport is proof that eastside residents don’t have to leave the suburbs to find sophisticated dining with a view. Chef Joseph Brophy’s specialty is French-American cuisine, with the bulk of his training in continental cuisine training with Chef Jean Morel at the former L’Hostellerie Bressane in Hillsdale, New York.
On a Tuesday night, the restaurant’s balcony overlooking the Erie Canal fills slowly with retired early birds and energetic young couples fresh from neighborhood softball leagues. A wide awning shades most of the plastic tables and chairs. There are no tablecloths or fancy dishes, just lots of sunshine and fresh air. In the distance, church bells ring out “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” drowning out the calls of a rowing team from St. John Fisher College.
Round dinner rolls arrive first, accompanied by a nontraditional choice: white, unsalted butter that disappears into the soft folds of the rolls. The homemade pâté au poivre appetizer is a blend of pork, chicken liver, veal finished with duck fat and green peppercorns served in small, smooth round slices that can be easily spread onto the buttery toast points. A side of mayonnaise with a hint of lemon brightens the thick pâté, and the peppercorns pop and zest on the palate. Other appetizers, such as the smoked salmon, brie and walnut pastry, and eggless caesar salad are distinctly French. A green salad follows, topped with just enough balsamic dressing to moisten the vegetables. Chopped beets dye the iceberg lettuce a faint pink.
Joey B’s has a modest selection of Finger Lakes wines from Salmon Run, Swedish Hill, Goose Watch, and Knapp. The Salmon Run riesling, in particular, complements the rich entrées with its crisp, fruity notes and nice long finish.
Meat and seafood are prevalent on the dinner menu, though there are selections to suit health-focused or gluten-free diets with sides of sautéed vegetables like shredded zucchini, baby carrots, and roasted red peppers served with a heaping portion of puffy white rice and dried cranberries.
The venison medallions are best served medium rare, sautéed and deglazed with cherry juice, red wine, and veal demi-glace served with sweet, shriveled cherries. The poached Atlantic salmon is fairly straightforward, a generous square of poisson that isn’t too pungent to erase delicate notes of lemon broth in a white saffron cream sauce. A sprinkling of paprika and juicy lemon wedge adds a welcome kick.
Dessert is Chef Brophy’s way of sending guests home with a smile. The sweets menu isn’t listed and changes seasonally. The frozen kiwi soufflé with side of strawberries in syrup has a messy presentation, but there’s hardly a better taste combination. Tiny seeds from both fruits swirl in the milky soufflé and sticky syrup, providing a satisfying texture. The chocolate torte topped with chocolate mousse has a hefty, sugary constitution, but the slice is small enough that it’s not overwhelming. Raspberry and caramel sauces are drizzled over the plate, offering a different option for each bite. All desserts are topped with a dollop of whipped cream, crunchy shortbread cookie, and a glistening maraschino cherry.
Joey B’s is tucked just far enough from Main Street to offer quiet repast while still making a post-meal sunset walk on the canal completely possible. It’s a lovely spot for last-minute weekend reservations or a midweek treat.
To learn more, see joeybsrestaurant.com.
Leah Stacy is a full-time freelancer. Her patchwork career consists of arts writing, event videography, and storytelling for corporations and nonprofits. She is a cofounder of Boomtown Collective, a startup creative agency for social good.