We spent last Saturday visiting my husband’s daughter and her beau in Rochester, NY. It’s her birthday today, and we wanted to spend a little quality time with her, something we don’t get too often. I asked them for a real Rochester dining experience and lo’ and behold, we landed at one of many dining establishments that offered a version of the hometown special called “the garbage plate.” I’ve been hearing about this thing for years. So I was mighty excited.
According to the official recipe, courtesy of RocWiki, “It is a disorganized combination of either cheeseburger, hamburger, Italian sausages, steak, chicken, white or red hots, a grilled cheese sandwich, fried fish, or eggs, served on top of one or two of the following: home fries, fries, beans, and mac salad. A plate is always made to order. Then, the plate is adorned with optional mustard, onions and Rochester’s version of hot sauce.”
The “hot sauce” is kind of a variation of Greek sauce, but with strong cinnamon overtones.
I love local cuisine. Whenever we travel, we try to ferret out what city is famous for what and then go eat it. Like Buffalo’s Anchor Bar, the founding restaurant of what has become the national bar food sensation Buffalo wings, Nick Tahou Hots claims a similar place in Rochester food history and has gone so far as to trademark the name. Which is why places like Harbor Hots, where we went, can’t call their dishes “garbage plates.” Variations in names abound, from trash plates to dumpster plates to sloppy plates to red hots plates (which my husband’s daughter and I shared because we want to maintain our girlish figures).
We ordered a red hot (hot dog) and a hamburger (both bunless), baked beans, salted potatoes, with mustard, onions and meat hot sauce, and a side of large sliced dill pickles (free). All that food comes in a to-go container, sloppy and oozing together. Haute cuisine? Hardly. But something that clearly has taken off and become a Rochester tradition.
And who knows? It might even be the next Buffalo wing.