I knew I was hungry. I knew that after another long day of helping renters find their perfect new digs, interviewing some excellent candidates for our storyteller internships, and replying to all the great feedback we’ve been receiving by email and on our Facebook and Twitter pages, I could use a beer. I also knew that despite a fridge full of produce from the Public Market and my vegetable garden, I was in no mood to cook. But what I didn’t know when Ben and I stepped out of our little South Wedge duplex was where we would find this much needed sustenance.
We wandered aimlessly towards South Avenue, the main business corridor of the South Wedge, knowing that we were sure to find something to satiate both hunger and thirst. Lux nearly lured us in with their hipstery goodness and the promise of a Wednesday night movie in the bar’s back yard before we decided that their brown-bagged “Luxable” meals weren’t exactly the warm dinner we sought. Maybe a mojito and a po’ boy at Beale Street Cafe? It seemed perhaps one of the gourmet selections and the mile-long beer list at Tap & Mallet was what we needed, until our feet carried us past that, and we reached the Equal Grounds Coffee House, marking the end of the South Wedge’s little shopping district. Would we turn back and choose one of the above, or was there perhaps another choice? Something tucked away in the nearby streets of the Highland neighborhood, where we could eat and drink so cheaply that we might mistake ourselves for thieves? The answer had revealed itself to us. We hadn’t realized it until this moment, but our combined subconscious had known all along that we were headed to Dicky’s.
Its hard to find a more comfortable bar than Dicky’s, which is probably why it has lasted so long. Although it has seen a couple of brief closings, name changes, and of course changes in ownership, Dicky’s has outlived every other bar in Rochester, staking its claim as the city’s oldest bar, having originally opened in 1880. The trough running along the bar below the bar stools was originally running with a stream of water, so that farmers in the adjacent Swillburg neighborhood could rinse the muck from their boots before tromping around the bar. Rumor also has it that the trough served, for gentlemen too befuddled to make it to the restroom, as a back-up option for some of their more urgent needs. (This was a time before ladies would be found in such an establishment.) While everything from the menu to the playlist have been updated of course, the bar still has a charming neighborhood feel that would seem nearly impossible for it to ever lose.
Before finding our seats at the bar, Ben and I took a look at the specials menu. The $6 seasonal Rohrbach looked tasty, but $6 seemed like a lot for one beer. As we discussed, the bartender, overhearing, informed us that that was $6 for an entire pitcher of beer. Wow! Sold. The specials board also suggested a $4 fried fish sandwich, and a $13 NY Strip with potatoes and asparagus. Now, we’re not strangers to Dicky’s, so we know that there’s hardly a better cheeseburger in town, and that no matter what we chose, it would be exactly what we were craving. “Lets just get both the specials.” It was a unanimous decision.
While we waited for our meal, we munched on Dicky’s interesting new bar snack, uncooked linguini that is deep fried, and then coated in an addictive mixture of Parmesan cheese, salt pepper, and something that added a spicy little kick. We made note that the playlist was always just our style, peppered with Bob Marley and Sublime. Our beer was delicious: a dark ale that wasn’t too hoppy. And in no time at all, we were looking at two massive plates of food.
Like most Rochester establishments, Dicky’s is well acquainted with the fish fry. As simple as it was, their fried fish sandwich showed their vast experience in surrounding flaky white fish with a light, crispy layer of breading. It rested between either side of a soft, fresh roll. Topped with a piece of lettuce, and a tomato, and served with tartar sauce on the side, we found the fish sandwich to be classic, unadulterated, and very satisfying. The mound of fat french fries next to it was just an unexpected bonus at this point, because who would imagine such a large meal for $4?
The quality of the NY Strip that we received was tremendous. There wasn’t a single bite too fatty to eat, and we were warriors ready to conquer this challenge. Well seasoned, cooked medium, the steak was juicy and tender, a contender with steaks you’d expect to find at the type of restaurant with white linens and cloth napkins. Overjoyed, we turned our sights on the sides. Our asparagus came roasted to perfection, sprinkled with a little lemon juice. We found the occasional green onion amongst the mountainous heap of slightly garlicky, well-mashed potatoes.
We were already so stuffed, and so happy that we had chosen Dicky’s, that when we received our bill, all $24 of it, we nearly cried tears of joy that we live in such an affordable, walkable, trendy little city. Thank you, Dicky’s. Thank you Rochester.
Have you noticed that some of the trees and street signs on South Avenue have sprouted adorable monster feet? This, my friends, is a fantastic example of what the internet apparently calls “yarn bombing,” which I have also heard called “guerrilla knitting” ’round these parts. The monster feet pictured here were spotted just outside Open Face by my chocolate lab, Veruca, who thinks they smell really interesting.
Monster Feet on South Avenue
I wonder if the anonymous knitters who created this most inoffensive graffiti have heard of my elite secret society, which I actually started several years ago when my husband first created my Reason #2 for Loving the South Wedge.
Residents of Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood spent roughly 30 years waiting to see the old housing projects come down along Mt. Hope Ave and the Genesee River. About two years ago residents let out a collective sigh of relief as the wrecking ball erased the former soviet-style cement complex from the skyline. After a series of community meetings which left residents anywhere from horrified to disappointed, Conifer met with community stakeholders one more time last week to show off their final plans in the community room of the Hamilton Apartment tower next to the proposed building site.
Conifer’s building project manager presented a series of 3D illustrations which included some small design compromises like toning down the color palate. No one was surprised to see that the final designs were so similar to the ones which several weeks ago prompted neighbors to start a petition which raised nearly 600 signatures in protest. One of the biggest hurdles to incorporating public feedback on the design is that most local residents wish they could start with a clean slate. They feel that the design of this building is the antithesis of what the waterfront location and the community call for. While they are right on both accounts, in my humble opinion, the project will still be an economic boon for the community.
My wife and I own and live in a home less than a block from the proposed Erie Harbor Apartment project site. So as you can imagine, this project has a huge impact on us. One of the biggest positive changes resulting from this redevelopment is the introduction of market rate apartments on the South Wedge neighborhood’s waterfront. The previous 3-story low rise building had roughly 200 low income housing projects. Erie Harbor will be an 80/20 market rate and affordable housing hybrid with 131 units in total. The best part (for local property owners) is that Conifer will be defying the local apartment market by increasing the neighborhood’s rent ceiling by about 100%.
Erie Harbor apartments will be available as flats or two story floor plans with off street parking, water-view balconies, washer and dryer connections in unit and access to a common roof deck. With one bedrooms at $925-1100, two bedrooms at $1250-1850 and 3 bedrooms at $2000-2250 it will be interesting to see how quickly these apartments are filled after completion. Since the current average rent in the South Wedge neighborhood is closer to $800/mo for a two bedroom apartment, we sure hope they get it! If you’re ‘lucky enough’ to qualify for the new affordable housing units, the rents are a much more approachable $625, $750 and $826 for the 1,2 and 3 bedroom apartments respectively.
Ground breaking should take place this winter with a possible completion date of Fall 2011.
Just a quick update since I wrote this: Reason #1 to Love the South Wedge
Ben and I walked our chocolate lab up to Cheesy Eddie’s and retrieved this behemoth of a cookie.
Jillian's Delight from Cheesy Eddie's
Don’t worry, I won’t be having that coronary just yet! I cut it up into 5 toothsome tidbits to share with to share with everyone who was kind enough to come into Newdigs to work on a Sunday!
NOM NOM NOM
My husband built something pretty cool for our neighborhood, and though I am obviously incredibly biased, I feel like he’s totally earned this shameless plug. So with that, I present to you my reason number two for loving the South Wedge, Southwedge.org. Southwedge.org is a social network that Ben built using a really simple, easy to use, web technology called Ning.
The site was built to reinforce the incredible synergies that are already happening in the South Wedge. The South Wedge is privilege to a devoted, proactive planning committee, called SWPC (around the South Wedge, we say it “Swih-pick”). When Ben got involved with SWPC, shortly after moving to the South Wedge, he started to experiment with helping the neighborhood in its branding and community development efforts. Considering the work we do here at Newdigs, it wasn’t a far leap for Ben to experiment with marrying the community development work he was doing with SWPC with the web 2.0 fascinations that drive us to do what we do here at Newdigs. I’m paraphrasing a little here, but Ben’s basic thought process behind creating Southwedge.org was, “What if we confined a social networking environment to a definable neighborhood? Now is the first time in the history of humanity that you don’t know the person who lives two doors down. What if we took the community planning to the place that everyone’s paying attention to: the internet?”
Ben and I were instantly amazed with the inherent organic growth of Southwedge.org. All we did was tell our neighbors, who told their neighbors. Within a year we had over 300 members. Its currently somewhere around 670 members, give or take. I think it caught on so quickly because it really is a great way to get to know the Wedge. One of our neighbors told us that she might check it out, but she didn’t think she’d use it because she had enough other social things going on online already. A couple of months later, we saw her again while we were out and about, and she mentioned that she found herself using Southwedge.org often, because it had a built in relevance to her, since it was about everything going on right outside her door.
Last year we were surprised when it got nominated as a finalist for a Rochester Business Journal Best of the Web Award, when we hadn’t submitted it. We had, of course, submitted a certain new Rochester apartment search site, but ’twas not to be. Southwedge.org ended getting beat out by the Seneca Park Zoo’s sweet redesign, but it was still really awesome to go to the awards ceremony with the rest of the Newdigs crew. The keynote speaker, during his speech, actually worked into his speech a congratulations of us on a job well done, saying that it was the nicest looking Ning network he’d seen. (Awwshucks, thanks Dana! – and I say that on behalf of my husband, whose awesomeness I take full credit for.) So in the end, the nomination certainly ended up feeling more like a win than a loss… and who doesn’t love the zoo?
I’m not gonna lie – on the heels of the first reasons I ever gave you to love Rochester, and then Park Avenue, this post about Cheesy Eddie’s decadent creation known as the Jillian’s Delight is going to make me seem like quite the eater. Rochester just tastes so good… which is apparently well known to the South Wedge, whose streetlight banners along South Avenue proclaim “Savor our Flavor.” Don’t mind if I do, South Wedge, don’t mind if I do.
You might know Cheesy Eddie’s for what they are best known for: their cheesecakes and carrot cakes. but where there is cheesecake, cream cheese frosting is not far behind. For the frosting lovers amongst us who wish to gorge ourselves on the sweetness of a massive cream cheese frosting glob sandwiched between two giant soft oatmeal cookies, the evil geniuses at Cheesy Eddie’s have invented the Jillian’s Delight in order to bring about our demise.
For those of you with some semblance of portion control, there is also a Mini Jillian’s Delight. If you don’t think you’ll make it to the South Wedge today because you’ll be too caught up gettin’ your LGBT on at the Image Out Festival, The Little Theatre’s got you covered (pinkies out folks- they spell “Theatre” the British way). That’s right, The Little has Jillian’s Delights available at their concessions stand! I smell a “Reason to Love East Avenue” blog post coming on…
I do so wish I had a Jillian’s Delight in my hand right now so that I could photographically prove its awesomeness to you readers. I shall have to remedy this and post an update…