Thursday, February 5, 2015

Comings & Goings

Written by Tyler

Much like a lot has changed in our own lives during our three-year hiatus, much has changed in the local restaurant landscape.

Most notably, the place that inspired us to begin this blog and the place we have turned into unapologetic shills for – General Hoock’s.

Shawn Hoock at his old location
on Buffalo Road in 2009.
(Courtesy: Facebook)
What we discovered as more or less a one-man band led by the General himself, Shawn Hoock, has changed several times since our first visit there five years ago this month.

In April 2012, Hoock left the Buffalo Road location his customers had come to know and love. He bounced around to several different locations throughout Gates in the ensuing two years – and while the food was as delicious as ever, Hoock just couldn’t seem to find a permanent home to cook and deliver his creations his own way.

Finally, in December 2014, after several short-lived attempts elsewhere, Hoock teamed up with Megan Rattray to form Shmeg’s Restaurant on the other end of Buffalo Road in Gates. Almost all of Hoock’s legendary creations remain on the menu – save for his pizza, or Magik Bread Pie – in a more spacious setting than his previous locations. We’ll get into more specifics in our upcoming review of Shmeg’s, but let’s just say the new place is dynamite.

Here’s a look at some of the other changes since we left you in fall 2011:

·         One of our favorite barbeque joints, Taste of Texas in Spencerport, is still open and going strong, but changed its name a couple years back to Texas Bar-B-Que Joint. It’s the same people and same delicious food, but changed its name because of a trademark issue with a restaurant in Houston. Drew, Joe, Amanda and I ate there just two nights ago, and it’s still the best in the west when it comes to the Q. It also now has a satellite location, the Outlaw Potato Shack, on West Ridge Road in Greece (Lowe’s Plaza), that serves the famous Outlaw Potatoes and a limited sandwich menu from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

·         Great Northern Pizzeria closed its Henrietta location in the last few weeks, as well as its Bushnell’s Basin location, but remains open in Brighton and has a new location on Mt. Hope Avenue near the new College Town development.
The Pizza Stop is moving a few doors
down from its longtime spot on
State Street in Downtown Rochester.
(File Photo/2011)

·         Arguably the top pizza place in Rochester, Pizza Stop, is moving a few doors down. It’s moving from its longtime downtown home at 123 State Street to a more spacious storefront at 131 State Street in the next week. Pizza Stop opened a second location on Ridgeway Avenue in Greece in November 2012. Also this week, Pizza Stop’s cousin Joe’s Brooklyn Pizza is opening a second location in the Perinton Square Mall.

·         Yumbo’s Southern Style Grill closed its two locations, in Greece and Downtown Rochester, sometime prior to March 2011, only to open a new location in the city on Lyell Avenue later that year. It closed again the following year but remained available for catering. It’s unclear whether Yumbo’s remains in the catering business. 

·         Zebb’s Deluxe Grill & Bar opened a fancy Greece location with much fanfare in 2011 but had less-than-stellar reviews (though not necessarily from us) and was closed within two years. Its original Rochester-area location in Brighton remains open.

·         Chilango’s Mexican Grill in Spencerport closed down temporarily in early 2013, before reopening as Wylie Chayote’s in April 2013 under a new partnership with Jerry Manley (formerly of Flour City Diner). The new venture was out of business by summer 2014.

·         DiRosato’s Pizza & Pasta at the corner of Elmgrove and Lyell roads in Gates closed in September 2011, shortly after our review, and reopened shortly thereafter as the fourth location of Caraglio’s Pizza.

·         BBQ Fred on North Greece Road had weird hours that I could never figure out, along with an ever-changing menu, and closed at some point. According to its website, it’s still available for catering, but who knows?

·         Lighthouse Diner in Spencerport closed, apparently sometime in 2012. Its location is now occupied by Rancho Viejo Mexican Restaurant.

Rochester's version of Buffalo's
world-famous Anchor Bar
didn't last long.
(Courtesy: Time Warner Cable News)
·         Here’s a wild one. The Anchor Bar, the world-famous birthplace of the chicken wing in Buffalo, had a Rochester location that was our first-ever stop for this blog (though not our first review). It opened in late 2009, but changed its name slightly and dropped its affiliation with the original Buffalo location in 2011 before closing in 2012. It’s now a MacGregor’s. A second Rochester-area Anchor Bar (unaffiliated with the Buffalo original) opened at Marketplace Mall in 2010, but was only open for two years. The Original Anchor Bar in Buffalo is still thriving, and has added locations at Eastern Hills Mall in Williamsville, Darien Lake, and Hamilton, Ontario.

·         Just within the last week, the Greece Ridge Family Restaurant was rebranded as Blue Ridge Grill. It’s run by the same family, but changed from a typical Greek family diner to a “casual gourmet” restaurant with beer and wine available. It still serves all three meals, and has a special Greek menu at dinner time.

Buffalo-based Mighty Taco opened
its first Rochester-area location in
Henrietta in 2012, for which I am grateful.
(Courtesy: Mighty Taco)
Those are the notable changes for the restaurants we have visited for RWG. There have been many more comings and goings in Western New York, obviously. For instance, the national chain Quaker Steak & Lube opened its first Rochester-area location in Gates for some reason, but had a similar trajectory of Doug Marrone’s stint with the Bills and recently closed. Popular Buffalo-based chain Mighty Taco opened its first Rochester-area location in Henrietta in 2012, and opened a second one on Ridgeway Avenue in Greece last year. It’s become my go-to option for fast food.

At any rate, things are always changing, and we’ll have plenty more comings and goings throughout the weeks, months and years we’ll try to keep you updated on. If we missed anything, feel free to let us know by commenting below. In the meantime, we’ll continue getting you caught up to speed on what’s changed in the last three years and what we’re focusing on now as we revitalize this blog. 

God bless.

Friday, January 9, 2015


691 Monroe Ave., Rochester
Visited Dec. 18, 2014
Written by Drew

I stumbled upon this greasy spoon location back in the summer, when my older brother Mike and his fiancée Isabella came up to visit from Charlottesville, Virginia. Dogtown has been a frequent stop for him – almost every time he comes north.

For whatever reason, I have had a negative connotation about this place until I went with him this summer. Now, every time he comes up to visit, I try to squeeze in sometime to grab a bite at Dogtown.

Located on Monroe Avenue, just seconds off Interstate 490, Dogtown occupies a small building, with a unique décor, tucked between two larger city houses. With enough room to sit about a dozen or so inside, and just as large of an outdoor patio space for those fair-weathered Rochester days, Dogtown is definitely quaint.

Upon walking in, a large menu will greet anyone who is unsure what exactly to get. After debating what to get in my inaugural trip, I ordered a Junkyard Plate (their version of the garbage plate). I have found that in my tenure with RWG, getting a garbage plate is a great way to sample the quality of the different items at each establishment.

When I order a garbage plate, I usually pick two burgers as my meat. My first Junkyard Plate, I deviated from the norm. I chose to get the split plate – a bed of home fries and French fries, topped with a cheeseburger patty (not a flat patty like many other local restaurants) and a popopen-style hot dog, covered in Dogtown’s unique (to the area) Cincinnati-style hot sauce. After taking the first few bites, I could say I had one of the best plates I had ever eaten.

This was my first experience with Cincinnati-style hot sauce, and if I had to describe it, I would compare it to chili, just without any of the beans. The sauce had an even heat to it, and I would
consider it to be hotter in spice than the typical run-of-the-mill Rochester hot sauce.

On my return trip, I decided to get another split plate. With a place that is called Dogtown, you have to at least have a hot dog in your meal. This split plate was as good as I remembered it.

The home fries Dogtown has are some of the best deep-fried home fries I have had. My only regret is not getting only home fries as the base of my plate. Dogtown's French fries were battered and deep fried. Isabella calls these type of fries "country club fries," a term that RWG will use to describe this style of potato from here on out.

An area which Dogtown falters is its lack of fountain drinks. Dogtown has a small (4-foot) beverage cooler where Pepsi products and a variety of other soft drinks. Not a big deal, but it does hinder the experience a little.

Mike's friend Kyle ordered a split plate as well, with a double order of home fries at the base  and the typical toppings of hot sauce, mustard and chopped onion.

Kyle poked fun at my inability to finish my meal. I typically don't eat a complete garbage plate, as the bottom layer happens to lack texture and become unappealing to me.

Matt, another one of Mike's friends, ordered one of Dogtown’s signature hot dogs, the Golden Retriever – a hot dog sitting between two slices of bacon, covered in melted cheddar cheese, along a side of country club fries. When I asked Matt how it was, he responded that the melted cheese was just as good as the hot sauce. It looked like his meal had the potential of becoming quite messy, but definitely something I think I would try someday.

The menu has an area just for specialty hot dogs, with more than two dozen different hot dogs all topped and served differently. Along with this is a large menu for vegetarian hot dogs.

Perhaps this is where my initial hostility came from. I am a red meat eater, while I am assuming many of the people who go here do not partake in that same luxury.

Mike ordered his regular at Dogtown, a veggie burger plate – two veggie burgers on a pile of home fries, covered in mustard, onions and a meatless chili sauce (which did have some beans mixed in). Mike exclaimed the meal was great and the veggie burger patties are different – better than a typical veggie burger. I will take his word on the quality of his meal.

Isabella ordered a veggie dog. Visually, it looked like a "real" hotdog and perhaps something I could have mistaken for the real thing. Her veggie dog sat aside an order of onion rings. I did not taste one, although she did offer. They looked like one of the best house-made onion rings I have seen. They had a large diameter to them, as well as being cut quite thick. This may be something I try on my next return visit.


Atmosphere: Unique décor, not a whole lot of seating inside, but roomy enough during the spring and summer months to sit out on the front patio. Not too far off 490, located practically  5 minutes away from anything downtown.

Service: Great service, very knowledgeable about the menu, quick turnaround for ordering to receiving your order. Everything can be made to order.

Food: High quality, a fair amount of quantity. Many differnt options for even the pickiest eaters. No soft drink fountain.

Value: Cheap, every meal is ordered separately from the sides (fries, onion rings, etc.), allowing for a low tab when it's all said and done.

Overall: A little far out of my way, but a great place to meet up with some buddies before a Red Wings game or any other type of downtown event. A great alternative to the Rochester-style hot sauce.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Now Open: "Shmeg's Restaurant"

Longtime Rochester Westside Grub friend and chef Shawn Hoock has now opened a new location. Located near "right where it all began," Shmeg's Restaurant is now open. On the Corner of Buffalo and Coldwater roads in Gates (3027 Buffalo Road) Shawn is once again behind the grill and making a custom meal, just the way you order it.

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday-Friday: 5 a.m.-2 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 6 a.m.-3 p.m.
(Closed Monday)

RWG will be there in the next few weeks, with a blog post to follow.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

American Burger Bar and Beer Bistro

American Burger Bar and Beer Bistro
3208 Latta Road, Greece
Visited Dec. 4, 2014
Written by Drew

Our journey began back in 2010, when Tyler and I stumbled upon a Democrat and Chronicle review highlighting a new place called General Hoock and Sons' All American Pizzeria and Breakfast. We were drawn to Hoock's due to the patriotic name… and the idea of enormous sandwiches with just about anything on them. The American Burger Bar and Beer Bistro, or AB4 as we will call it, drew us there for similar reasons.

AB4 has a great Facebook page which advertises many of the specials for that specific day. With different descriptions and pictures of its food, this is a great place to look if you want to answer the question "What should I eat for dinner tonight?"

Tyler and I were joined by our friend and frequent RWG eater Chad on this particular stop. We traveled into the land we call Greece on a Thursday night, shortly after 7 p.m. When we started toward the restaurant from the parking lot, we all made some sort of comment on how awesome the logo is. 

Upon walking into AB4, you are greeted by Americana. The restaurant is decked with all sorts of pictures and portraits illustrating American history -- portraits of past presidents, pictures of historic locations, and of course several pictures that show true American patriotism are all centered around a large mural of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. One of the more notable pieces of "memorabilia" was a Ronald Reagan napkin holder at one of the tables. 

"That's when it truly won over my heart... and (eventually) my stomach," Tyler expressed. We should also note that this place was adequately decorated for the Christmas season. That’s hard to beat.

As you approach the counter to order, you will walk past at least 12 feet of cold beer storage with what seems to be more than 50 different varieties. I did notice there was a considerable amount of local craft beers there, as well as a few on tap. Just beyond the beer cooler sits a small cooler for soft drinks. 

We were greeted at the counter, presumably by the owner of the business. He talked us through some of the menu items. After ordering, we made our way to a table. The restaurant was made of five or so four-person bar height tables and one long four-person table that bellies up to a window overlooking the parking lot.

Let's get to the food. I ordered a Patriot Plate. Despite being a Buffalo Bills fan, I can tell you that I was digging the Patriot Plate. For my base I ordered tater tots and French fries. The tater tots were well fried, had a nice crunch to them and the French fries were not I the generic fries you would get at any ordinary diner. As for my meat selections, I chose angus beef and pulled pork. The Patriot Plate was topped off with melted cheese and a ladle of Rochester-style hot sauce.

I enjoyed several things with my meal. When the waitress brought out my order, she handed me the plastic bag that my meal was in. Without a doubt, my meal weighed more than 3 pounds. Upon opening my takeout container, the smell of the hot sauce more or less punched me in the face. 

The Patriot Plate had a visually appealing assembly. My burger was medium and thick, which amazed me. Often it seems a burger in Rochester typically comes to you like a flat, textureless piece of burger -- but not here. 

The hot sauce that coated my meal actually had a nice bite to it. Unlike many local restaurants that merely dub to have hot sauce, AB4 actually made a sauce that can stand alone.

I do have to admit I could not even come close to finishing my meal. I most likely didn't even finish half of it. This had nothing to do with the quality of the plate, as much as the fact I wasn't that hungry going in. Next time I return, I will be sure to not eat anything hours ahead of time.

Chad also ordered a Patriot Plate. He ordered his with tater tots and macaroni salad for the base, angus beef and pulled pork for the meat, and covered with hot sauce and onion. AB4 offers both of these as the go to toppings for their plates, as ketchup and mustard are offered on the side at the condiment counter.

Chad finished a good three-quarters of his plate and brought the rest of it home. Chad returned to AB4 with his father a few days later, around the prime dinner time. He and Charlie weren't able to get a seat in the restaurant and the anticipated wait time for a table was more than 45 minutes. 

Tyler ordered off the grilled cheese portion of the menu. AB4 offers at least six different styles of this sandwich, and we are sure if you asked them to make up a new concoction for you, they would. Tyler ordered the Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich, which was compiled of grilled chicken with Canadian bacon, Swiss cheese and honey mustard all melted together between two thick slices of white bread. Arguably the least patriotic items on the menu, but as Tyler would say, "Hey!"

On the side, Tyler ordered an oddity, sweet potato tater tots. The side order of them contained at least 30 tots. Like the tots in my Patriot Plate, Tyler's tots were well done, with a nice crunch on the outside, and the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

About halfway through our meal, the guy (presumably the owner), the same guy who took our orders, came over to make sure everything was alright and to see if we would like anything else. This was a nice touch. It seems that in a counter-service restaurant where there are no waiters and waitresses, the customer is often forgotten about as soon as they get their food. AB4 checks in with you while you’re eating and will send you off with a huge "Thank You!" on your way out the door.

It's hard to top a place that's conveniently located, has a ton of options, good service, and a casual/comfortable-yet-patriotic atmosphere and delicious food. Few places have. 

It was a little pricey, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. We can't wait to go back and continue to take a stab at more of the menu. 

As Tyler said, "If you don't like this place, you're letting the terrorists win."


Atmosphere: One of the best atmospheres we have stumbled across, very patriotic, well decorated for the holiday season, even the beer selections match the time of year, only negative is the limited seating.

Service: Great service, very knowledgable about the menu and I'm sure about every kind of beer that they offer, very conveniently located for many on the westside of town, about two minutes off 390.

Food: Quality and quanity all at the same place, many different toppings and add one for any of their different creations.

Value: A little pricey, but definitely worth it. A lot of bang for the buck here.

Overall: With a close proximity to where we live, this may become one of our new pit stops along the way. We are all looking forward to our next trip back, and bringing more friends and family. Altogether, a top-five stop for RWG.

Grade: A-

Next Post: DogTown, Rochester

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Union Street Eatery

Union Street Eatery 
2139 North Union Street, Spencerport
Visited Nov. 18, 2014
Written by Drew

Now that Tyler and I both have our feet (somewhat) underneath ourselves, we ventured out to try yet another restaurant in our stomping ground and officially call it the first in our comeback tour.

The Union Street Eatery has been operating out of Barefoot Landing Plaza on Union Street, just north of the Village of Spencerport, for the better part of two years now. I have visited this place on a handful of previous occasions. 

When my Uncle Mike (UM) and Aunt Mary (AM) come up from the great state of North Carolina to visit our family, my dad insisted on taking them out to a good meal, usually a fish fry. For years, my dad attempted to find a location that, in his eyes,would serve a mean fish fry.

Well, he found it. 

Neither Tyler nor are ones to go out to order a fish fry. We are willing to settle with the fact that my dad did find the eventual fry that would top his list. One of the things that I believe led my dad to making this determination is the fact that the fish fry came with an option to get steak fries in place of the traditional French fry at no additional cost.

Through these few meals, I have had the pleasures of sampling many of the other menu items. My first visit, more than a year ago, I had the black and bleu burger. The one thing that makes this meal memorable for me is that the burger came to me exactly how I ordered it (medium, no lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, etc.). Often, my burger comes to me with something on it that I didn’t want (which I probably didn’t make clear with the server) or overcooked. The burger on the whole was just above average.

Earlier this fall, my family took UM and AM out to eat here, and I remember being on the fence about what to order. I fell back onto the chicken finger dinner, which consisted of five large beer-battered chicken fingers a dipping sauce and a choice of two sides. The chicken fingers must have come right out of the fryer moments before I tried to eat them because they were still too hot to touch. When they did cool down I was able to enjoy the second-best chicken fingerI have ever had (second only to Tully’s Good Times). For the sides, I ordered macaroni and cheese, which was exceptional, and French fries, which were sub-par.

Enough buildup, though. Tyler and I met up here for dinner shortly before Thanksgiving. Tyler must have been caught up in the impending holiday because he has ordered, a RWG first, a turkey dinnerThis meal was a regular menu item, which included a helping of sliced turkey and a pile of mashed potatoes, all covered with thick gravy, along with a side of cranberry and a side salad or an option of soup. In typical Tyler fashion, the plate was cleared pretty much before I took my first bite. Upon finishing his meal, I asked Tyler how it was, he simply responded “good.”

Let’s talk about that cup of soup. Both Tyler and I opted for a cup of turkey noodle soup (over it’s equally appetizing steak and potato soup option). The soup came to us with a bag of oyster crackers. Silence ensued for about three minutes while we each finished our soup. We both agree that the soup had plenty of flavor to it could have had more noodles and meat to it, but on the whole, we will quote a 2014 New York state gubernatorial candidate: “Soup is good!” 

As for my meal, I had the appetite for a steak. It was surprisingly inexpensive here, as my meal didn’t cost more than $15, which for a large portion of steak anywhere I would consider cheap. My meal came with two sides to choose from; I chose the previously mentioned cup of soup and the traditional style French fries. The steak, like my burger a few months back, came to me cooked just how I ordered it, medium rare. The steak was exceptional, considering we weren’quite at a steakhouse. The French fries, on the other hand, were sub-par, as the majority of them were the bits and pieces left in the bottom of the bag.
One of the things that we used to always include, because often it is a necessity to know is whether or not this location offers free refills on their drinks or not. To keep that tradition afloat, Union Street Eatery does. 

Our experience was pleasant. We went on one of the first legitimately cold winter-like days of the season, which I presume to be the reason behind a fairly empty dining room(mind you, it was after 7 p.m. on a Tuesday). I have been there in the past when there was a short (5-10 minute) wait to be seated. Our waitress was very prompt, attentive and friendly, and made for a good overall experience.


Atmosphere: Clean, very typical for your bill at the front-register diner. A great place to sit and catch up with friends, non-rushed, location is ample and isn’t too far off the expressway.

Service: Exceptional (most likely because of the slow night), VERY friendly waiting staff

Food: Typical “diner food,” great soup, typical fries.

Value: Decent portion sizes, really reasonably priced.

Overall: This would be considered a frequent stop for my family, but wouldn’t call ourselves regulars. It’s a nice alternative to the typical chain, sit-down style restaurants in the area. There’s nothing about it that jumps out, but that’s OK because sometimes that’s exactly what you’re looking for. We’ll be back.

Grade: B

Next Post: American Burger Bar and Beer Boutique, Greece

Monday, November 24, 2014

We're Sorry, We're Back.

Written by Drew

We apologize for our extended hiatus from the blogosphere. During the last few years, we have endured several different things that merely got in the way of being faithful to our blog. It is now that Tyler and I feel comfortable enough to resume from where we left off, and our passion to find the best eatery in the area has not waned. 

I hope that you have caught that I said area. When we began writing in 2010, we defined Monroe County into three zones: the west, the east, and the gray area. This was one of our original guidelines that we have struggled with. As we have aged, we've enjoyed many different restaurants that were within our original borders, the gray area, and now even the forbidden area east of Rochester. We will maintain our name and our logo, but we will travel outside of our comfort zone and enjoy in all of the great food that our region has to offer – and perhaps even venture out of the Rochester area from time to time.

Here’s what’s new with us. Tyler has found success in his post-college life after graduating from St. Bonaventure in 2012. He is currently a producer at one of the local TV stations. Now engaged to then-college friend Amanda, Tyler has taken on more social media work, coordinating various outlets for local high school athletic programs.

I, on the other hand, have graduated from SUNY Brockport. I ran in two campaigns for local office, successfully winning one of the two. My family has purchased what we call a “lake home” on Keuka Lake. I have spent much of my fair-weathered time in the beautiful Yates County. I am currently working for a local school district as a one-to-one aide for a student with a learning disability.

There has been a loss in the Rochester Westside Grub family. My father, Steve, who has been one of our most loyal readers, passed away in October 2014. This blog was one of his favorite reads. We would talk about where we should go out to eat for dinner, and whenever anyone mentioned any of the 40+ places we have reviewed, he would state exactly what everyone had, and what grade we gave that location.

Going forward, we will continue to visit restaurants that we find appealing to our appetites. Along our journey, we may revisit one of our old stomping grounds and re-grade how we feel about our experience there. 

We appreciate our loyal fan base who read our blog for all those years, and truly apologize to those who have been waiting for our next post. For those new followers, spend some time looking back at the 40+ locations that we have already visited, and hopefully we can retained you as one of our own.

Next Post: Union Street Eatery, Spencerport, New York

Thursday, September 1, 2011

58 Main Restaurant

58 North Main Street, Brockport
Visited July 13, 2011
Written by Greg

Fifty-Eight Main on Urbanspoon

Recently, while looking for another place to review, and wanting to go somewhere we didn’t know much about to ensure an unbiased review perhaps, Joe, Drew, Chad, Tyler and I ventured into Brockport to patronize 58 Main, presumably at 58 Main Street, just north of the canal.

It’s not a real big place, and it feels even smaller inside. There is a wooden deck outside to eat at, but we were seated inside in the main dining room, next to a very odd abdomen-high wall separating the bar area from the rest of the room.

The half-wall also had regular plastic window slat blinds hanging from the ceiling to it as a means of further separating the two areas, but it just looked weird and felt awkward with tables immediately on the other side.

There are a few TVs scattered about on the walls, and some memorabilia. There isn’t a whole lot of atmosphere to speak of really.

It’s definitely a restaurant, but I, and did others in our party, didn’t feel like there was a whole lot of character to the place. Tyler described it as feeling like it has an identity crisis; is it a burger joint, bar, somewhat upscale, party house, or a barbecue joint? There is also a somewhat extensive breakfast menu available from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m., further complicating the identity.

I would say its barbecue personality sticks out the most, but the menu is very diverse and doesn’t focus on one particular specialty or genre, if you will.

There are certainly a wide variety of barbecue items, but also general Italian cuisine, and home-style American, dishes too. Nevertheless, we were seated and waited on promptly, and the dining area was of average cleanliness.

Getting down to business, I ordered a Reuben Wrap, but received just a regular Reuben sandwich. I wasn’t upset, so I didn’t bother sending it back.

It was about what I expected it to be: moderate size, served with Thousand Island dressing (a must for a Reuben), and came with sides of coleslaw and fries, which were also both very generic. Altogether it was a run-of-the-mill meal. It didn’t excite me, but it didn’t disappoint either.

Tyler ordered a chicken barbecue platter (surprise), and said the chicken was nothing extraordinary. He did, however, enjoy sampling the various barbecue sauces, which were pretty good.

We all agreed we like when restaurants have numerous barbecue sauces on the table so that you can try each of them and pick your favorite.

Tyler chose sides of cornbread and bakes beans. Of the cornbread, he said it was “Different in a good way,” but thought the portion size was far too small and should have been served warmer, rather than lukewarm. He liked that the baked beans had pork in them, and I did as well, but their flavor in general didn’t stand out.

Drew ordered a pulled pork sandwich, which he found to be very generic compared to those of all the other places we’ve reviewed, including Dinosaur, which continually surfaces in our conversations of having the only exciting pulled pork in the area.

Drew felt like the service was unusually slow, and was put off by the fact he was only given one drink refill. I didn’t think the service stood out by any means, but didn’t consider it below par either.

Concrete Charlie ordered a 58 Main Plate, which pretty much describes itself I would hope. He ordered his with hamburgers, macaroni salad and home fries. It looked pretty well-made, and I finished it for him after he had his fill.

We both agreed that there was far too much diced carrot in the macaroni salad, and it was raw, which made the salad much too crunchy. The hot sauce on it didn’t stand out as an original Garbage Plate’s might, and the home fries were probably a little on the undercooked side, but Chad seemed somewhat satisfied with it.

58 Main won’t reach real high on our rankings. We found it very comparable to Nola’s in Charlotte in terms of food quality, though Nola’s menu is more focused and exciting, and has a much better atmosphere. We all also agreed that 58 Main was on the overpriced side, by maybe a dollar or two.


Atmosphere: It wants to be a barbecue joint, but its diverse menu and lack of stand-out barbecue holds it back.

Service: Average service, a tad on the slow side.

Food: Not great, not offensive. Somewhat generic.

Value: Decent portion size, but a tad overpriced.

Overall: A diverse menu with nothing that really stands out, causing a lack of identity. No complaints, but nothing that will have us rushing back.

Grade: C+

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Greece Ridge Family Restaurant

3400 West Ridge Road, Greece
Visited Aug. 23, 2011
Written by Tyler

Greece Ridge Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

In general, we love family restaurants, as we’ve mentioned before. Usually there are a lot of similarities between them, but each decent one (B- or higher) has a few characteristics that makes each unique.

Most offer breakfast all day, but we saw no trace of breakfast on our menu at Greece Ridge, and couldn’t even find the restaurant’s hours to figure it out.

Actually, even the name of the restaurant is also a question mark. The sign says, “Greece Ridge Family Restaurant” but the menu says, “Greece Ridge Restaurant and Café.”

Whatever it is, it looks like a run-of-the-mill diner, and it is exactly that.

The menu was quite extensive and took a while to ponder, but I ultimately opted for a hickory ham and chicken sandwich at the last second, and Drew ordered a barbecue cheeseburger.

The service was insanely fast, as our meal arrived in just a few short minutes. As great as that was, maybe it was a sign.

For the most part, my sandwich’s components were very simple. Nothing had a ton of flavor. The grilled chicken breast was one of the blandest ones I’ve had, with no seasoning evident. The only thing that wasn’t completely generic was the roll.

That being said, I still ate the sandwich very fast, using honey mustard that also didn’t as much flavor as I would have liked.

All Drew could say about his burger was that it was weak, bland and didn’t sit well afterward. He had fries along with his meal that looked like they also fit that description.

We agreed most of the items were a tad overpriced, with most sandwiches around $7-9. Mine was around $9 including a side item.

I had a basic side salad, which was alright, but I was disappointed this family restaurant didn’t have home fries on its menu. I have never seen that before at this type of place.

To be fair, there were several menu items that sounded appetizing, like the Cuban sandwich or some of the various paninis. Whether they are or anything unique or not is another story, as everything we had was generic.

On a positive note, the service was phenomenal, and it had a decent at-home feel inside.

There’s no rush to return, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out.


Service/Atmosphere: Service was excellent, and the inside appeared and felt homey, just as a family restaurant should.

Food: A lot of intriguing options, but it seems like a lot of generic ingredients.

Value: Slightly overpriced, but nothing ridiculous.

Overall: Very generic, with nothing about the food that made it stand out. Positive marks for service, atmosphere and selection, though.

Grade: C

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jack'ss BBQ & Pizza

3055 Buffalo Road, Gates
Visited Aug. 2, 2011
Written by Tyler

Jack'ss BBQ & Pizza on Urbanspoon

One evening while cruising the Gates-Chili restaurantopolis, Drew and I discovered an intriguing combination of cuisines – pizza and barbecue – that just about stopped us dead in our tracks.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I at least did a double-take upon seeing the sign for Jack’ss. We knew we had to make the trip back out there soon and get involved, so we brought Greg along two weeks later to test it out.

It’s difficult for most small restaurants – especially brand new ones – to truly specialize in more than one general group of food, so we didn’t expect too much from Jack’ss.

We entered and ordered at the counter. No one else was in there at the time, but we were still surprised at how quickly our food was ready.

One interesting note about Jack’ss is that you can order any topping(s) you like on a pizza slice, unlike most places where the slices are premade and sitting in a warmer with no work left to be done until they are eaten.

I took advantage of that and got a slice with ham. The slice had a great balance of crust-cheese-sauce. It was piping hot, but tasted good thanks to the sauce.

The thin ham didn’t add a ton of flavor, but the crust was done perfectly. It was thick and crisp, without being too toasty or crunchy, and I thought it was decent pizza overall.

Greg opted for a steak-and-eggs sub with peppers, onions, mozzarella and hot sauce. Sadly, the sandwich came without the hot sauce (unless of course Greg just didn’t notice it, but I’ll take his word for it).

Amid his mild disappointment, Greg said he was surprised at how well-constructed the steaming-hot sandwich was and how good its roll was. But despite the hearty hoagie’s appearance, Greg said the flavor was bland.

“The steak was hardly seasoned – not even a hint of salt or pepper – and the same could be said for the veggies on it,” he said. A little more cheese would have been a perfect amount, and I'm sure the hot sauce, had they remembered it, would have taken it up a notch.”

On a positive note, Greg continued by raving about the roll.

“A crisp but not burnt exterior, fluffy but fully cooked interior, that was neither too soft that it became soggy and fell apart nor too hard that it was hard to bite,” he said. “It had a somewhat wheaty flavor that I really enjoyed, too. A real classic roll.”

Drew was the only one who sampled the barbecue selection, ordering his usual pulled pork sandwich. He also agreed the roll was very good, especially because it was toasted.

As for the meat itself, he noted it was slightly better than the typical pulled pork sandwich at similar restaurants.

"Usually when you order a pulled pork sandwich at a family restaurant or diner, it’s usually about the same stuff – pulled pork they froze and microwaved,” Drew said. “(This was) obviously not Dinosaur pulled pork you’re getting, but it’s better than the average family restaurant’s."

From my own observations I was pleased to see that Jack’ss had actually put some thought in to Greg’s and Drew’s sandwiches, rather than serving up generics.

The rest of the menu included several specialty pizzas and salads available, along with common grill and fryer items, subs (including a separate steak-specific section), and a few pastas and calzones.

The barbecue menu isn’t particularly extensive, and I was disappointed by the lack of sides available, but it includes several variations of both ribs and chicken.

We all agreed the service was good and the menu had some things that stood out a bit. Jack’ss was nothing that blew us away, but we were somewhat pleasantly surprised by it.

It’s nothing we would go out of our way for, but if we’re nearby we know we can stop by Jack’ss for a reliable meal.


Service/Atmosphere: Very clean restaurant with quick service in a quiet location.

Food: Unique variety, slightly above average. We were fans of the dough used in the sandwich rolls and pizza crust.

Value: Overall it seemed the prices matched the quality and portion size of the food.

Overall: Nothing spectacular, but we were pleasantly surprised. It’s a brand new restaurant with potential if it can attract a following.

Grade: B-