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.