A feast fit for a king at The Castle

January 18, 2019

In the basement of the recently opened Castle community, a hidden treasure awaits.

Cameo’s menu is an eclectic portrait of food around the world. However, the new restaurant certainly uses its own brush strokes to try and make that food its own.

The first info gleaned from the Cameo website before I visited was that the restaurant owners want to make food inspired by a variety of cultures, as a nod to Rochester’s diversity.

That’s admirable. A quick glance at the menu showed a wide range of fare. Curry — difficult to do well. Ramen — another challenging dish (it’s difficult to match Kyoto ramen). Tacos, schnitzel, Korean BBQ (a Korean-American friend of mine has only enjoyed one Korean place in Minnesota, so another challenge), and Thai crab.

But how well could they execute all of these different cuisines?

Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t shove all of this food into my stomach to say whether or not they nailed it. So I acquiesced to human biology and only ordered three dishes: Ishiyaki-style Wagyu beef, the Smash Burger, and the smoked Gouda Potato au Gratin. A starter, main dish, and side.

Oh, and a Toppling Goliath Pompeii IPA that was fresh and clearly poured from a properly maintained draft line.

The Wagyu comes out in seven bite-sized cuts with caramelized onion paint and a yuzu vinaigrette. The legendary beef also comes with a round cooking stone. You get to use as much paint as you wish before putting your pieces on the stone to cook. I haven’t cooked like this on a night out since my days in Japan.

As always, the Japanese beef was a joy to eat. It’s a fattier beef, so you get a really nice, creamy mouthfeel. I didn’t need the dipping sauce, but did use it sparingly with my fries and even once with the burger. The Japanese citrus fruit flavor cut strongly and pleasantly through the vinaigrette.

Moving on to the Smash Burger, I found myself reminiscing about the first version of the Surly Burger the brewery made in its beer hall. Thanks to the Thousand Island-esque dressing, I felt a little bit as though I was eating a Big Mac — if it were made with high-quality ingredients. Overall, it was a tasty, no-frills burger. Sometimes simplicity reigns.

The fries stole the burger’s show with what I believe to be a Parmesan topping mixed in with some sort of spice. I couldn’t stop devouring them, but eventually had to for the smoked Gouda side.

The potatoes were creamy, and crunchy, giving them depth. And oh, so cheesy. The smoked Gouda had just enough pronounced flavor to let me know that is just wasn’t any ol’ Gouda.

I enjoyed Cameo quite a bit and am already planning my second visit. It would be great to see more beer on tap, but the restaurant does have a local source in Little Thistle, which is always a bonus.

From what I know, a castle keep basement was sometimes used as a prison (or dungeon, if you prefer). And while Cameo is indeed within the basement of a castle, it is fit for a king and queen — or just about anyone.

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