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July 15, 2011 by in Bars, Ellwanger-Barry, Featured, Restaurants, South Wedge, Swillburg
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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.

Dicky's Rochester

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?

Dicky's RochesterThe 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.


Sunday Vegetarian Brunch at Dicky’s

March 9, 2011 by in Ellwanger-Barry, Featured, Restaurants
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On Sunday, Ben and I decided to check out the new vegetarian brunch at Dicky’s.  Dicky’s had advertised it on their facebook page as starting at 10 AM, but I wasn’t terribly surprised that we were the first to arrive to brunch at 10:30, considering the standard Dicky’s crowd seem to be the “stay up late on Saturday night” types.  We sat down at our favorite table, and then went up to the buffet to find an assortment of breakfast items: different flavors of bagels, cut into eights, with cream cheese on the side, yogurt set next to granola and honey, fruit salad, a warmer containing something that looked like it might be eggs, and another warmer with potato pancakes.  We filled up our plates, grabbed a cup of coffee, a satisfying espresso roast, and went back to our table to start round one.

Dicky's Vegetarian Brunch - Round 1

We were immediately struck by the healthfulness of it all.  The egg-looking dish turned out to be a delicious curried tofu packed with fresh parsley.  It had a pleasing texture and flavor, and paired well with the potato pancakes.  The fruit salad was great, although its hard to prepare a bad fruit salad.  The potato pancakes were the best I had ever had.  They were thick without being undercooked, and crispy without being oily, prompting me to ask the very attentive proprietor about who had cooked them.  He answered that Peter, of the now gone-but-not-forgotten Mission Cafe on Monroe Ave had finally been talked into going in with Dicky’s on a vegetarian brunch effort, and this brunch was the first of many to come.  He also told us to stick around for the stroke of noon, when the law would allow him to bring out the $5 bloody mary pitchers, $3 mimosas, and “adult coffee.”

Check out my high style hairdo

Ben had a meeting with one of his real estate clients at 11:30, so we couldn’t stay and wait for them to bust out the bloody marys, but we did still have time to do a second round at the buffet.  This time, a warmer that had been empty on the last pass had been filled with brown rice, and separately, black beans.  I took some of each, piled on top of one another, and added salsa, sour cream, lettuce, and cheese.  There was also a squash dish: “Its butternut,” said Peter the cook, as he shuffled the buffet items and accepted my compliments on his potato pancakes.  We each took a warm up on our coffee and sat down to round two.  The rice and beans were simple and filling.  What can I say?  I’m not a huge fan of brown rice, so it was the only thing I wasn’t crazy for,  and I did wonder if I had simply missed the burrito wraps, or if there really weren’t any out for what seemed to be a plethora of fillings.  The butternut squash on the other hand, was excellent.  It was mashed coarsely, and accomplished the main prerogative of any butternut squash – to be both sweet and savory without loaded with sugar and salt.  Again, well done Peter.

Dicky's Vegetarian Brunch - Round 2

All in all, I’d say this is a brunch worth keeping an eye on.  I wasn’t crazy about the $8.95 price point, but considering the ingredients (eggs are a higher margin product than the tofu we were eating) it wasn’t altogether unreasonable.  I just wasn’t sure I really ate $9 worth of breakfast, and for that price some more options would have been nice.  Still, its great to see a vegetarian brunch happening in Rochester, especially so close to my neighborhood, so its something I definitely foresee myself continuing to support.  Next time I will get there later to check out Dicky’s take on the bloody mary… $5 a pitcher seems like a pretty good deal.