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Date Night in Pittsford

July 19, 2011 by in Pittsford, Restaurants
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The perfect location for date night or girls’ night out, Schoen Place in Pittsford is home to lots of delicious restaurants and sweet spots. Whether you’re in the mood for Mediterranean fare, French-inspired American cuisine, or homemade ice cream, you’re sure to find something to whet your appetite along the historic and scenic Erie Canal.

Looking for date ideas? You can’t go wrong with the classic “dinner and a movie” combination. Start your night with a movie at Pittsford Cinemas in Pittsford Plaza (may I suggest Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2?) then indulge at Olives Greek Taverna, a classic Greek restaurant in Northfield Common that provides delectable meals made with the freshest ingredients. Follow up your dinner with homemade ice cream from Bill Wahl’s Microcreamery right next door. The canal path across the street extends for miles, but a short walk up and down Schoen Place is enough to feel refreshed after a delicious meal. You can take a seat on one of the many benches along the path, feed the ducks, and watch the sun set over the water.

Schoen Place Pittsford, NY Flickr Image by John Lam

No matter which night of the week you venture down to the Canal, you won’t be alone! Schoen Place is a popular spot for both kids and adults to spend time. During the day, the path is littered with walkers, runners, and bikers. If you’re going for a run along the canal, expect to weave your way through strollers, empty of toddlers, waddling precariously close to the the water, tossing bread crumbs and bits of ice cream cone to the many ducks who call Pittsford home. The shops and restaurants are often bursting with people, enjoying the warm summer breeze in one of Rochester’s most charming suburbs.


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.


You are a Community Storyteller

May 24, 2011 by in Events, Featured, Neighborhood Guide, Newdigs, Rental Market Info, Restaurants, Rochester Metro Area
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Dinosaur BBQ, Rochester, NY If you’re not already familiar with the Newdigs story, we are a humble local start-up with large aspirations. We want to simultaneously bring you the best apartment search experience you’ll ever have, the easiest way for landlords to market and manage their properties, and a robust blog that will help our users get to know the rental market intimately, so that they’re capable of making very informed decisions. Its a lot on the plate of a budding, incubated, locally boot-strapped start-up… so we’re reaching out to you, the Rochester community, for some help.

We need all hands on deck, and we know you’ve got a story to tell! Whether you’re an active member of your neighborhood, or a passive enjoyer of its restaurants & boutiques, you could probably tell us something about what it is to live where you live. Your stories will help not only fellow Rochestererians get to know the other neighborhoods near them, but they’ll help future residents decide where to live when they get to town. Plus, becoming a community storyteller will give you a creative outlet to share your opinions on the finest and funnest things that Rochester has to offer: events, cafes, restaurants, parks, concerts… the list could go on for miles. Your stories shape our neighborhoods. And, whether you’re doing it just for fun, or because you like to write and need an outlet, or because you’re looking to become better known in your community, becoming a Newdigs storyteller can help open doors of opportunity, sometimes in totally unexpected ways.

If you’re interested, contact the chief storyteller (that’s me) Kristin Munson:
You can reach me by email: kristin@newdigs.com
On twitter: @mrsmunson OR @newdigsROC OR @newdigs
On Facebook: Newdigs

I can’t wait to hear your stories! Thanks for helping us grow Newdigs into a great company that can make Rochester proud.

Spot Coffee will Reopen in May! Hooray!

April 28, 2011 by in Center City, Events, Restaurants
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Spot Coffee Rochester

Guess what!  According to the Democrat and Chronicle, Spot Coffee, one of Rochester’s favorite wi-fi hotspots, will reopen sometime around the 3rd week in May!

For anyone who is a newcomer to the area since Spot closed in mid October 2010, you should start looking forward to your first Spot Coffee experience!  The first thing you’ll notice as you approach Spot, is that its in a retro Chevrolet dealership, from the days when automobiles weren’t all sold on huge lots of paved farmland in the suburbs.  Now, here’s where my description becomes an approximation, because as much as I can tell you about what it was like inside Spot Coffee before the renovation (it was pretty awesome), I am just as in the dark as the rest of you about what will be unveiled after the renovation!  I am guessing that Spot Coffee hasn’t strayed too far from their previous concept of a two story floor plan with various areas to choose from that will all have a different sort of vibe, however a comment left on RocWiki, by user ChrisLaRosa leads me to believe that the once massive space has been segmented into two smaller spaces: “As part of the renovation, a wall has been built down the center which divides the former space into two halves.  As of 11/27/10, the half on the right (facing the building) has a sign on the outside which says available.”

Pre-renovation you had your choice of window-side tables, a popular location for the students who choose Spot as their study location.  There was also a curtained off “fireplace” area with comfy furniture, great for group gatherings, another window-side section with bar-type seating, and a balcony on the second floor, where one could sip coffee as they peered down below at the hustle and bustle.  The coffee bar was located in the center of the floorplan, organized with ordering on one side of the center island, and pick-up on the other, creating a nice flow that allowed for plenty of space for the often long lines that come with Spot’s busier days.  The original decor was a funky blend of colors and textures, with antique sofas, modern bistro tables, mirrored tiles around the fireplace, and long velvet curtains creating room like areas.  Although Spot never lost its groovy charm, over the years the  fabric curtains and the antique sofa had become grungier with time and use, making the renovations a welcome catharsis for the space.

According to a quote in the Democrat and Chronicle, Richard Gress, president of Spot’s U.S. operations, says that “the millwork is done, the coffee bar is in place, and they’re doing the flooring now, which is the last piece.”  So, it sounds like we should be expecting a total overhaul of the venue, though Gress has stated that the homey feel and wi-fi that Spot was well known for, will remain as features at Spot.

If this is going to be your first visit to Spot, be prepared that your coffee won’t be the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had. So, that’s why you’re not even going to order the coffee.  No, instead, try Spot’s excellent take on the grilled cheese sandwich, with colby and cheddar cheeses, tomatoes, and creamy dijonnaise sandwiched between grilled focaccia.  Pair your sandwich with a refreshing jet tea, a blended iced tea drink with your choice of strawberry, wildberry, strawberry-banana, mango or peach.  Now, I know what you’re thinking: “A coffee shop where the coffee’s no good, and this girl’s still telling me to check it out?”  Yes, this girl, while not being able to bring herself to say that Spot Coffee’s primary focus is the flavor of their coffee, cannot deny that Spot Coffee has always been such an interesting venue that it’s worthy of your patronage despite not being able to make a decent cup of joe.  So, menu choices in mind, brace yourself to make a visit to the newly renovated Spot Coffee when it is finally revealed at the end of May.

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.

Reason to Love the South Wedge #1: The Jillian’s Delight

October 11, 2010 by in Restaurants, South Wedge
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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…