Wednesday, September 9, 2015

That 70's Vacation - Garbage Plates

Years ago, my father's college roommate told him about these "magical" meals called Garbage Plates from his hometown of Rochester, NY.

To put it bluntly, the Rochester garbage plates were the kind of late night diner food that caters to cheap college students, truck drivers and degenerates.

According to Wikipedia, a Garbage Plate is "a combination of two selections of cheeseburger, hamburger, red hots, white hots, Italian sausage, chicken tender, fish (haddock), fried ham, grilled cheese, or eggs; and two sides of either home fries, French fries, baked beans, or macaroni salad. On top of that are the options of mustard and onions, and Nick's proprietary hot sauce, a sauce with spices and slowly simmered ground beef. The dish is served with Italian bread and butter on the side. named the Garbage Plate the fattiest food in the state of New York."

So to order a proper Garbage Plate, you first pick the main protein (i.e., cheeseburger) and two sides (i.e., fries and macaroni salad). Then the plate is covered in "hot sauce" which is similar to ground beef chili meat that you find on a Skyline Chili Dog. You add ketchup and/or buffalo wing sauce and go to town.

My father had been thinking about this "local delicacy" for years, but just never found himself in that part of Upstate Western NY. So it was his plan to drive into Rochester on our way to Niagara Falls on the Friday before Labor Day.

However, as we passed the Rochester area along I-90 West, my father looked in the rear view mirror and saw my mother and me passed out in the back. Not wanting to wake us up just to take us to a random dive restaurant, he kept driving towards Niagara Falls where we'd spend Friday night. Instead, he planned to stop by on the drive back home to NYC on Monday.

Unfortunately, he forgot that Monday was Labor Day and many businesses would be closed for the holiday. Plus, given the type of restaurants that serve Garbage Plates, they didn't exactly have real time updates on their company websites.

He would have called, but (a) we were in Canada so phone calls would be expensive and (b) the hotel had horrible in-room wifi, so Skype was out out well. So then he took to Twitter.

After finding the Twitter handles, he first tweeted to the original Garbage Plate restaurant, Nick Tahou's. Unfortunately, they were closed for Labor Day.

Then he tried Dogtown. Also closed.

But on the third try, he found Steve T's Hots. Apparently, Steve T was the 2nd location of Nick Tahou's but after a family dispute, they separated. Of course, there's nothing proprietary about fast food meat with fries and sauce, so they had as authentic a garbage plate as anywhere else.

Not only was Steve T active online and social media, but they were open 24/7 including Labor Day!

So my father's dream was preserved and we had an ambitious (if not dangerous) plan to have a 10AM breakfast at Steve T Hots (2260 Lyell Ave, Rochester, NY 14606) and hope that it didn't have ramifications on his stomach for the 6 hour drive back to Manhattan.

We left Niagara Falls around 9AM and made it to Rochester in just under an hour. Located on a relatively commercial street, Steve T was a standalone building on the corner with a small parking lot upfront. It was pretty much as we'd expected.

We were one of three other cars, and we walked in knowing exactly what we wanted to order. My father would have a garbage plate, while my mother wanted a regular egg sandwich and a hot dog for little old me.

It was staffed by just one man who took your order, grilled up your food and operated the register. My father correctly suspected they weren't going to take credit cards, so he came prepared with cash. The menu seemed large, but it was all just different versions of a Garbage Plate.

My father (almost drooling) placed his order, trying his hardest to sound like a local and not a fanboy who dreamt about this meal for 15 years: "Give me a cheeseburger plate with mac salad and fries, extra everything."

Made to order, the food came out in about 10 minutes and my father did his best to maintain composure while he took a photo before devouring his long-awaited feast.

As my mother says, my father has never looked so happy.

No comments:

Post a Comment