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Nick's Picks: Original Grain

Rochester’s Midtown neighborhood will add yet another gastronomic destination with the arrival of Original Grain, a hip, fast-casual restaurant on the street level of Tower 280 with trendy, health-conscious fare. This is the second Original Grain location, the first is in downtown Syracuse.

Original Grain’s menu is divided into several sections. Some offerings include toasts with multiple toppings, spreads, and add-ons; grain bowls made from bamboo rice with several variations and protein options; green bowls with kale or mixed greens; sesame soba noodles; wraps; sandwiches; smoothies; and smoothie bowls.

A few particularly intriguing dishes are the soba and kimchi noodle bowl which comes with short rib, cucumber, carrot, edamame, apple, scallion, cilantro, and ssam sauce; the North Shore wrap, made with ahi tuna, napa slaw, avocado, shallots, sesame seeds, spicy sauce, and sesame-ginger dressing; and the stay-puffed bowl—a mix of cacao, peanut butter, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, and Reese’s puffs.

With an extremely diverse menu, Chris Bily, who owns Original Grain with two partners, insists that there is something for everyone.

“Our focus is just about natural, really good food that caters to a bunch of demographics,” says Bily. “Certainly, health and wellness are some of the key components, but we have a ton of variety for a ton of different people, whether it’s meat eaters, vegetarians, or people who are gluten free.”

On weekends, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Original Grain will also offer brunch with a live DJ playing decades-worth of hip-hop, bottomless mimosas for $20, and specials.

“We mix it up and have a ton of fun during brunch,” says Bily. “We’ll have a ton of specials on weekends—everything from lobster benedict toast to a croissant sandwich with scrambled eggs, avocado, kimchi, and spicy mayo. Brunch is something that a lot of people love doing and for us; it’s like, how do we take that and provide an awesome experience for people to walk into.”

Original Grain’s distinct interior design, which will certainly be one of the first things new customers notice, is influenced by the dichotomy between the East Coast and West Coast.

“Two of our favorite cities that offered a lot of inspiration in the menu, design, and decor were L.A. and New York,” says Bily. “We have this earthy, bohemian, bright, L.A. vibe that’s mixed with this raw, gritty, sort-of Brooklyn vibe.”

After a slight delay in the planning and design stage, Original Grain, which was originally slated to open in fall 2018, is now on track to open in late-winter 2019.

“We looked at the concept, pulled it apart, and it took a little bit longer than anticipated,” says Bily. “But I think what we’re bringing to Rochester is really going to blow people’s minds.”

Follow Nick’s Picks on Twitter at @Nickabreu585.

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