Sometimes, one of the best parts of travel is the food. Trying new flavors, finding fresh meal ideas, and experiencing a little bit of local custom and culture is an adventure in itself. And in our region, when you dine at these local eateries or sip on a craft beverage, you’re supporting small businesses and individuals in our little communities. We'll break down our favorites, bite by bite.
Chef and co-owner Travis Barlow puts care into every dish he creates at Hole in the Wall Restaurant and Lounge. An independent, family-owned business, it started on Main Street in Perry, NY as the “Perry Sandwich Shop” a little business established back in 1932. While its roots are still present, it has evolved into something so much greater, with a menu of favorites like French Onion Soup, Beef-on-Weck, and Beer Battered Fish Fry, along with Finger Lakes wines, craft beers and single malt scotch at its in-house bar.
Sounds simple, right? Well, Barlow is a self-proclaimed “purist” when it comes to food, believing that the best food is local and seasonal, not sourced from afar. His passion is in keeping his menu innovative, yet accessible, and always inspired by the region that surrounds him. Sandwiched (pun intended!) between Silver Lake and Letchworth State Park, Hole in the Wall is perfectly positioned for any visitor to grab a bite.
Western New York’s first custom brew center, Windy Brew pairs you up with a brewer that takes you through the steps of brewing your own beer – without the hassle or headache that home brewing usually brings. Visitors age 21 and up will walk through the process, learn the equipment, be provided with all the supplies and create a craft brew of their very own making. A tap room offers tastings, from the seasonal styles to IPAs, and has “pub grub” on hand, including all the traditional goodies, made locally – pizza, pretzels, boneless wings and a savory tater tot poutine.
A family run business, Windy Brews began when owner Bill Snyder received a beer kit as a gift. Shortly following, Synder bought a kettle, grew a hobby into a passion project and began sharing his love with others, far and wide.
Kutter’s has been around since 1923 – so it comes as no surprise that they have mastered the making of high quality, gourmet cheese. Their core products of cheddar, muenster, colby, edam, gouda, and havarti have been a mainstay for over 50 years and their family roots go back even farther.
It all began when Leo Kutter, an immigrant from Germany, arrived in New York and started his own cheese factory. The business grew, moved to its permanent home in Corfu, NY in 1947, and was eventually handed to Kutter’s sons, Anthony and Richard, to maintain. Three generations of Kutter cheesemakers worked tirelessly to build upon what Leo had started. They eventually partnered with Hunt Country Vineyards to offer wine, and partnered with Yancey’s Fancy, Inc., also known for its high-quality cheeses, cheese curds, and specialty flavors to expand their selection. Kutter’s was sold to locals Brian and Heather Bailey in 2009, but its quality and care carries on to this day.
Stop in for samples and to experience flavors you may find a bit… different, like Steakhouse Onion Cheddar, Maple & Bacon Cheddar, Champagne, Strawberry Chardonnay and cheese spreads like Horseradish Cheddar, Roasted Garlic or Limburger.
If you think you know wine, you haven’t seen anything quite like Circle B Winery. Fruit wines rule the roost here, with tantalizing flavors like apricot, peach (with or without honey), pear, pumpkin & spice, blueberry, spiced apple… there is even a tomato wine if you are truly looking for something different. They also have the traditional traminette, diamond, baco and an Isabella rose said to be superb.
One of the first farm wineries in Genesee County, Circle B was established by Bob and Ingrid Bowen, who look to local sources to craft each bottle of wine. They lean on a friend and seasoned winemaker, Augie Katrencik, to manage the makeup of the beverage and carefully fill each bottle with high-quality, fresh flavors that you could sip and savor all day long.
In Piffard, NY, lies The Abbey of the Genesee, a Roman Catholic community of contemplative monks, commonly referred to as Trappists. And while the Abbey follows the traditions of a monastery, they channel their manual work (an integral part of Trappist life) into something special – the production of hand-crafted bread known as Monk’s Bread, made by the monks since 1953.
The first Monks’ loaves were not immediately put up for sale, instead being shared with guests and local tradesmen who volunteered their time at the Abbey. But as travelers and locals began to try the hand-baked loaves, word spread, requests came in to take the bread home, and this little operation grew into the business it is today. Stop into the store to pick up a pack of the homestyle bread, available in multigrain, rye, cranberry, sunflower, whole wheat, white, raisin cinnamon, maple cinnamon and seasonal flavors like pumpkin in the fall. Or try one of the monk’s other handmade creations – from fruit & nut bars to biscotti to several flavors of crispy, baked cheese.
OSB Ciderworks has strong family roots and a story to tell, right down to its creative name. OSB, or “Original Stump Blower,” harkens back to the days when sibling owners Elise Barnard and Eric Smith’s father and late uncle used to hide homemade hard cider in stumps, hoping to sneak a sip when their mother wasn’t looking. The cider was said to be so strong it could “blow up a stump” – hence the name - and a lasting family legacy was born.
Using local apples and other New York State ingredients, OSB Ciderworks ferments some tasty craft creations. Their menu features flavors ranging from the sweet “Grape White Shark” to the dryer hopped varietal “I Love It When You Call Me Hopped” to some truly unique ciders like the “Hip-hop Hibiscus” or “Mint To Drop Beets.” They also have rotating draughts from other local and regional producers and aren’t too far from other winery and brewery tasting rooms – just check out the “Libation Loop” map found on their website for the route.
You’ve heard of a “biergarten” but how about a “beegarten?” At 810 MeadWorks, the name of their outdoor music venue is just one way they pay homage to the bees, who so carefully make the honey that is at the core of every bottle of mead. Dating back to biblical times, mead was one of the first fermented beverages – long before liquor, beer or wine. It’s versatile and can take on many styles and flavors. And at 810 MeadWorks, they specialize in them all – from a margarita-inspired mead served with salt and lime, to a fruity wildflower and raspberry mead, to a hoppy concoction known lovingly as “Bee Vomit” and featuring a beer-like taste.
And that’s just the start! There are over 25 different varieties of mead made at 810 - and counting. Stop by the tasting bar to try them all, and chat with owners Bryan and Larissa DeGraw about how mead became a way of life. Enjoy petite plates and full feasting platters of food and throw a few axes while you are there – in the back of the building you’ll find the area’s only ax-throwing range.
Apples are all in the family at LynOaken Farms, with the apple growing tradition dating back to 1919 - over 100 years ago! It was then that the Oakes family patriarch purchased land in rural WNY and focused on growing the best apples around. But they are more than just growers. The Oakes family consider themselves stewards of the land and surrounding environment – growing unwaxed, hand-packed apples and turning their product into flash-pasteurized orchard fresh cider, pies, scones, jams, jellies, canned fruit and more, all available at their on-site gift shop and bakery.
Beyond the farm, the Oakes established the Leonard Oakes Estate Winery (named after their grandfather) in 2003 and began producing artisanal wines and ciders. Find something for everyone online and in their tasting room - from a Steampunk Cider series featuring apple blends, spices and fruity flavors to ice wine and port-style dessert wines, to the more common Blaufränkisch, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pétillant Naturel.]
Discover all the adventurous things you can see and do in the Fresh Air Adventures region. Then bring your travel packet with you to use while you're visiting destinations in the area.