The Lake House on Canandaigua and Frequentem Brewing team up to delight diners (2024)

CANANDAIGUA, NY – By way of introduction, Garrette Gray welcomed guests to The Lake House on Canandaigua’s Sand Bar and mentioned casually he is the executive chef, although the chef’s whites he wore might have given him away.

Gray, a native of Jamaica, came to the Lake House earlier this year from its sister property in Delray Beach, Florida.

Defying the conventional wisdom of New York to Florida flight, Gray reversed it.

“I’m the crazy guy who came from South Florida to Canandaigua in the wintertime,” Gray said, drawing laughs from a nearly filled Sand Bar dining room and setting the tone for a light-hearted event heavy on good food and good beer.

Customers came for the October dinner pairing for beer brewed by David D’Allesandro from his and his wife Meagan’s nearby Frequentem Brewing Co. and food by Gray’s Lake House staff. This was the first of a series of upcoming Lake House food and local brewery, winery and distillery pairing dinners.

The Lake House on Canandaigua and Frequentem Brewing team up to delight diners (1)

These exclusive pairing dinners, which the Lake House launched a year ago, are meantto draw people to the Lake House — as well as Canandaigua Lake and the city’s downtown business district — during the fall and wintertime, after the hustle and bustle of the summer wedding, boating and just plain hanging by the lakeshore season.

The chefs have recovered from that stress for the most part, ready to incorporate the Finger Lakes region’s beer, wine and spirits into what they do.

This creates a side benefit, besides having a beer after work. The pairings allow them to create and cook outside the box, so to speak, and the casual diner or hardcore foodie has the opportunity to get inside their heads a bit.

“We've got to find some ways to be a little more creative and have some fun in the process,” Gray said.

Pairing the Lake House and FrequentemBrewing

Most people who sample a Frequentem brew are inspired to sample another … and another.

The difference is when these chefs sat down at the table with D’Allesandro and the Summer Hours American Lager he brought over, inspiration comes in a menu, right then and there.

“That’s how it’s going to be, even with the wine dinners,” Gray said. “We’re going to taste the product and sit there and be open-minded and talk about and create a menu, right there on the spot.”

Gray wants each of his chefs and sous chefs to not only prepare a menu item but create one, from the amuse-bouche to dessert, each paired with a different style of beer.

To pair with the summer lager, for example, they decided on chicken cordon bleu. But not just any old classic chicken cordon bleu, but a deconstructed, redesigned version. Yes, it’s still chicken and ham, but in this case also asparagus, Swiss cheese roulade, sherry asparagus volute and asparagus salad.

Their goal also is to use some of the beer in their dishes to enhance the seasonal flavors of both.

In Gray's words, they’re having some fun with it.

“To see an old classic returned to something in a different, modern style,” Gray said.

D’Allesandro explained to diners how he decided on the styles of beers to brew, and how much he enjoys being part of the process of collaboration and seeing what ends up on plates.

The lager, for its part, is part of Frequentem’s Weekend Warrior Series and a pet project at the brewery.

“It’s special to me,” D’Allesandro told diners.

And there you have it, a special, unique pairing — and there’s more.

Here’s what diners had at the Lake House’s Sand Bar

The beer comes first, and behind that, the food. The hope, from both food and beer makers, is the customers will somehow mind-meld with the creators and get what they’re trying to do and be willing to experiment.

“’Oh, I see why they use this beer for this dish,’” Gray explained.

Diners were first treated to pan-seared scallops, with an Italian pilsner, followed by this experimental — dare we say, exceptional? — chicken cordon bleu. Which, as D’Allesandro noted to diners, pairs well with another experiment.

The Italian pilsner style, with its dry, light body and herbal, floral character, came about when an Italian brewer tried to replicate a German pilsner, D’Allesandro said.

Nice try, as they say.

“It stuck and became a style,” D’Allesandro said.

The Lake House on Canandaigua and Frequentem Brewing team up to delight diners (3)

Next up: Pan-roasted strip steak, with parmesan risotto croquette, baby kale and red wine demi glaze, which was paired with Happy Medium Pale Ale.

Chef Pedro Hoil, a veteran at the Lake House and storyteller in his own right who shared his personal and culinary journey from Mexico to California to Seattle to Canandaigua as diners savored their steaks, came up with this dish.

“Chef Pedro is the winner of tonight’s meal,” Gray said. “The team did a very good job.”

Michael Lischak, who is food and beverage director at the Lake House, said the pairings are gaining notice in and outside the Canandaigua community, for obvious reasons.

“We did this last year, so they are gaining more traction year over year, as well as the quality of food and service being exceptional,” Lischak said.

Roberta Verdine of Ontario, Wayne County, said she has experienced pairing dinners before, either in Rochester or on her vacation travels. This was her first at the Lake House, although she has visited the resort’s Rose Tavern before.

Everything she tried on this night was tasty, and she enjoyed the beer as well.

“It’s a good way to try many different things, that maybe are on the menu or maybe are not on the menu,” Verdine said. “It’s a nice way to try different beverages as well. I like the idea of having multiple courses to try.”

Beer, beef, chicken, seafood, pork and room for dessert at the Lake House

To finish the evening off, Executive Pastry Chef John Bard prepared a masterpiece in both taste and presentation. The name “pumpkin coffee cake” only hints at its soft deliciousness, made possible by ginger oat streusel, spiced candied pecans and Chantilly.

The dessert was paired with Cali Common Amber Lager.

The Lake House on Canandaigua and Frequentem Brewing team up to delight diners (4)

Bard downplayed the dinner’s finale, which was crafted to resemble a pumpkin.

“Who doesn’t like dessert?” Bard said.

Verdine had the answer.

“I really liked the dessert,” Verdine said.

Coming up at The Lake House on Canandaigua

The pairing dinners move from the Sand Bar to the Rose Tavern, just in time for the holidays.

The Lake House and the Dundee, Yates County-based Hermann J. Wiemer Winery are teaming up for a wine pairing dinner Thursday, Dec. 7.

It’s back to beer for the next one, as Young Lion Brewing Co. from just across the way in Canandaigua joins the fun for a pairing Thursday, Dec. 14.

Gray is already eyeing next fall. He is hoping for an Oktoberfest kind of festival, with all sorts of beer and food vendors, something like a street food concept in the parking lot.

“I would love to do it,” Gray said.

Mike Murphy covers Canandaigua and other communities in Ontario County and writes the Eat, Drink and Be Murphy food and drink column. Follow him on X at @MPN_MikeMurphy.

This article originally appeared on MPNnow: Lake House on Canandaigua, Frequentem Brewing team up to delight diners

The Lake House on Canandaigua and Frequentem Brewing team up to delight diners (2024)


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