But here we are. So let me welcome you to a project that I will likely give up on in a few months. My decade-long quest to find the “best” garbage plate has led me to this point. So sit back and let me be your guide through this labyrinth of heart disease and gluttony. No longer will anybody ask the question, “Which restaurant has the best garbage plate?”. No longer will people scour through yelp reviews only to find some embittered housewife who asked for “light mayo on the mac salad” only to not receive it. To you I humbly submit the one and only source for unbiased unadulterated garbage plate reviews. The restaurant owners don’t know who I am, and I plan on pulling no punches. If a plate is trash; you’ll hear about it.
We should start at the beginning before I get into the nitty-gritty. First, what is a “garbage plate”.
A Garbage Plate is a true Rochester delicacy. 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. Some restaurants will charge for extra helpings of hot sauce, and the hot sauce varies widely in flavor and spiciness. A plate is usually served with a side of white bread and butter, though some restaurants charge extra for bread. It is said that the purpose of the bread is to soak up the grease left after you’ve eaten the garbage plate. – from the Rocwiki entry on garbage plates.
My thin-spiration for this site came from this guy; who does pizza reviews around WNY. While parts of his site irritate me, his aim is noble and his methodology seems solid. With that said; we should lay out some ground rules. I’ll be using a five point rubric which will assess every aspect of the garbage plate experience (each of the items below are worth five points):
MEAT – Arguably the most important part of the plate and not all meat is created equal. Some plates that I order will have different ingredients; I order different plates from different restaurants. It isn’t fair to compare the brisket from sticky lips with the red hot from the red wings stadium. My intention is to grade the meat based on what I think the best version of that meat can be. For example, if I get a fatty piece of brisket from sticky lips you can be sure that they will not be receiving the top mark. Additionally, if a burger/dog is overcooked, or poor quality that’ll cost ya.
Potato side – French fries/home fries etc.
Mac salad – The most common ingredient that restaurants screw up.
Bread – The bread for me is the culmination of my plate experience.
Portion control – Don’t you hate it when you get a plate full of one item and severely lacking in another? Too much mac salad is the common culprit. This item is meant for what’s left over at the end of the plate. Is it a healthy mix of ingredients? Or are you sitting there with a plate full of mac salad/fries?
Overall Score – out of five.
All the items are weighted the same; there is no “I” in garbage plate. So for example if restaurant A scores 5 on the meat, 3 on the meat sauce, 4 on the potato side, 2 on the mac salad, 3 on the portion control and a 1 on the bread their overall rating is a 3/5.
I also understand that sometimes restaurants have bad/busy days. Maybe their lead cook came down with the flu, maybe the chef is having an off day. I’ll account for this in my ratings and I’ll go into more details on the actual reviews. I am a kind and merciful food reviewer; and there are better ways to exact revenge on your culinary enemies.
I should note that to keep things as fair as possible I’ll be ordering most (if not all) of my plates “to-go”. What can you do in a Styrofoam container? That is the truest form of plate; and it helps to create a standard. I will also keep track of the time that the order takes and anything else I find interesting or notable. I’ll do my best to provide as many photos as possible of both the restaurant and the plate as this helps to set the “mood”. Finally, and once and for all we’ll have an answer to the eternal question, “What is the best plate in Rochester?”