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A toast to history

Perry’s Ration Wine Bar honors the town’s wartime spirit

Ration Wine Bar 

9 N. Main St., Perry 



Visitors hustling to nearby Letchworth State Park might blow through Perry without a second glance. But nestled in this sleepy rural hamlet is an unlikely hot spot punching above its weight class. 

Ration Wine Bar beckons passersby to belly up to its rustic concrete bar, whether to sample the extensive wine offerings or feast on inspired small plates, making it an unexpected culinary gem. 

And it’s not the only glimmering star on Perry’s historic Main Street. State funding has encouraged a boom of new “Open” signs, breathing new life into the timeworn brick facades. Still, Ration is a spirited anchor for this tiny Silver Lake town. 

It is an establishment with a storied past and promising future. Its namesake stems from its role during World War II. The building’s first owner served meals to service members in the 1930s. Regular customer Anita Billings bought what was eventually named the Hole in the Wall in 2001, then relocated it to Castille. 

The property was vacant for fifteen years before it was reborn through Perry’s downtown revitalization efforts, spearheaded by architect and town mayor Rick Hauser. 

Anita Billings

Billings’s husband, Bruce, who is a carpenter, helped reimagine the original weathered brick and stone walls into a modern space with a rustic chic aesthetic. The resulting design nods to the building’s legacy, but touches like sleek black accents and natural wood provide a contemporary feel, seamlessly blending the old with the new.

Daughter Jacquie now runs the fortyseat wine bar we know today. 

Passing through on my way to a day of sightseeing in Wyoming County, I scored a coveted spot at one of the two tables by the window, looking out at the new and improved Main Street. It was the perfect spot to take a break from driving through farmland and get some food to fuel the day’s adventures. 

Its concise menu reads like an edible map marking the most interesting stops in the region’s productive countryside, from the rich grazing pastures to the grape-laden acres trailing Conesus Lake. 

The charcuterie board ($35 to share) stars cured meats from Butter Meat Co., just up the road, alongside cheese from a Pavilion creamery. I enjoyed customizing my board with smoked blue cheese, housemade pimento cheese, and briny olives. 

I especially recommend the deviled eggs ($2 each), which come on a bed of beet horseradish. The sweet pickled beets have a delightful kick, upgrading these creamy eggs to a new level of flavor. 

If you can’t commit to a whole meat and cheese spread, all the items are available à la carte ($8 each) and come with toasted bread, pickled red onions, and grainy mustard that looks like pale caviar. 

Rave reviews from past customers (thanks, TripAdvisor!) inspired me to order the mushroom toast ($12), and I’m so glad I did. The buttery toast cradling a medley of mushrooms and caramelized onions was positively dreamy. A drizzle of balsamic reduction and velvety crumbles of goat cheese make these humble crostini feel extra indul – gent. It was so good that I nearly ordered seconds. 

For those seeking heartier fare, ideal after a day of hiking or exploration, go with the aromatic white wine steamed mussels ($20) or the fried chicken sandwich ($10). These elevated renditions set themselves apart from typical bistro offerings with unexpected twists—like zucchini pickles with the sandwich—and artful plating. 

These thoughtful and well-curated decisions carry over into the diverse selection of craft brews and wines. 

Whether you’re in the mood to sample the region’s signature Riesling or tap one of the craft brews from Steuben Brewing Company, there’s an option for every palate. Something I appreciate about the selection is the mix of Old- and New-World regions (think Willamette Valley Pinot Noir or Portuguese Vinho Verde). With 2-ounce, 5-ounce, and 8-ounce pours, you can choose your own adventure and curate f lights that suit your preferences.

Ration Wine Bar makes for a tasty first stop to kick off further exploration of Perry’s thriving downtown district. Decor lovers can walk off their wine sampling across the street at Eleven Covington Design & Boutique, showcasing chic furniture finds. Bibliophiles can peruse pre-loved beach reads at the Books & Fields bookstore just a block away. And those thirsty for more can venture to Silver Lake Brewing Project to try one of its local beers on tap. 

With Ration as a focal point in the resurgent downtown Perry, the only challenge is fitting all the charm into a single visit. 

However, the historic district is doing a lot much right by celebrating local producers, incredible craftsmen, and the agricultural bounty found right in Perry’s ever-fertile backyard. It’s a community embracing change while preserving its roots. 

The inviting wine bar and elevated dishes stand as a testament to the enduring spirit of Wyoming County, inviting all to share in the next chapter of this evolving town.

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