School & Vine Kitchen
Plenty of pasta and seafood options at Jamesville restaurant
By Christopher Malone
In Jamesville, there is a surprisingly quaint street off the busy East Seneca Turnpike. The residential area is dotted by trees and among the homes and foliage sits School & Vine Kitchen and Bar at 4621 Barker Hill Road.
The former school house on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the establishment’s website, was built in the 1930s. Where it looks like a standard restaurant during the day, the place truly comes alive in the evening. From the outside, the soft glow of the interior lights peeking through the windows is complemented by the strands of exterior lighting and the patio (snow-covered now) extends to the iron fence welcoming cars into the lot.
We ventured into the foyer, and waited for the hostess who told us we were looking at a 30-minute wait. The place accepts reservations, but for parties over four. There is ample bar space, but many people took advantage of the first come, first served. We grabbed a beer each, both around $6 each, and waited on one of the benches in the foyer.
School & Vine isn’t an upscale venue, but it boasts a classy appeal. It’s on the smaller side and very cinematic, meaning it’s one of those places you’d see in a film and make a mental note of wanting to patronize a place like that. Maybe it was the light jazz playing through the speakers. It’s great for dates, family outings and group gatherings for all demographics.
The one-page, seafood-heavy menu helps with narrowing choices, but decisions were still difficult to make. We kicked the evening off with the duck bacon wontons ($12) and the soup du jour, lobster bisque ($8).
The four wontons presented on the white plate are dressed with a honey-thick, sweet aioli and scallions. The wontons themselves are a great size and served well as an appetite calmer and stomach primer.
Compliments go to our server, Jessica, who brought out two small plates with the appetizer and two spoons with the soup. Knowing my partner and I were sharing and going that extra mile does speak well.
The lobster bisque was very flavorful. The medium-thick soup came out warm, which was a good thing. The cooled soup did bring out the flavor. However, we were fishing for the small, elusive pieces of lobster. When we found one, it was a just reward.
To break things up and continue with the aquatic theme, we opted for one of the specials of the evening, scallops with pasta ($26), and the calamari pasta fra diavolo ($26) menu entree. Both entrees were served with angel hair pasta and a slice of toasted fresh bread. The angel hair pasta was a great light choice for a heavier dish. The bread was delicious and crispy, but not burned.
The scallop dish was served scampi style, complete with a butter sauce and a lemon wedge. Four medium-large scallops sat atop the angel hair. Pieces of spinach were happily trapped in the web of pasta, which was graced by shredded flakes of asiago cheese and sprinkles of shaved parmesan.
As for the other entrée, the pieces of calamari were plentiful. There were mostly lightly fried rings piled atop the Italian-esque dish. The immediate thought: OK, they went with the rings. There isn’t personal vendetta against calamari rings, but seeing tiny little squids are more appealing on a personal level.
Luckily, there was a mixture of rings and fried visible tentacles. The little calamari were hiding.
The home-made marinara was thick and delightful, and it boasted a little kick. Of course, parmesan cheese snowed upon this Upstate New York meal, and the dollop of ricotta was a welcomed cheesy addition.
Before 20 percent tip, the total (minus the beer) came to $73.44.
Although we couldn’t squeeze in a dessert, the satisfaction of a good meal was comforting. The staff was professional. The utensils and glassware were clean. The bathrooms were sanitary. And those simple facts will also bring us back to try out the other offerings School & Vine showcases on its menu.
School & Vine Kitchen
4621 Barker Hill Road
Jamesville, NY 13078
Tuesdays – Saturdays
Happy Hour: 4 – 6 p.m.
Dinner: 5 – 9 p.m.
Bar Open: 4 – 10 p.m.