Call it what you will but, there is nothing like a well prepared combo plate of burgers or dogs, mac salad, potatoes, and beans to satisfy that craving we all get from time to time. Like many Western New Yorkers, I was introduced to "the plate" via the originator; "Nick Tahou's" in downtown Rochester, NY and I shall forever be grateful to my father and his dad for opening my eyes to this epicurean delight! I have since re-visited "Nick's" many times but it has changed over the years, mostly since Nick himself has passed and it just hasn't been the same for a while now. And thus, the quest began....................
Star Diner - Waterloo, NY
(Here sits my most recent find in the quest.)
If you happen to be traveling through the Finger Lakes on Route 5, it's pretty easy to miss "Star Diner" just West of Waterloo. It's a small place on the North side of the road and is not that far from a much more well known eatery in the area, "Mac's Drive-In". In fact, I wouldn't have stopped here myself on a recent visit to Geneva if Mac's hadn't been closed (I forgot they aren't open on Mondays, LOVE their root beer!). Upon perusing the menu, I was intrigued by the; "Gitsis Original Plate". Until they closed recently, Gitsis was a late night dining institution on Monroe Avenue in Rochester, and their plates rivaled anyone's in the city.
I ordered one, hoping for the best but was prepared to be disappointed, as I have been so many times elsewhere. It arrived and I was more than pleasantly surprised. My cheeseburgers were not only cooked perfectly medium rare as ordered but were hand-pressed, another good sign. The mac salad is made in-house (packaged is an automatic failure to the quest). The home fries were nicely browned with some caramelized diced onions. It was slathered with a very tasty meat sauce, topped off with some diced raw onion, and came with two slices of fresh Italian bread.
Everything was absolutely dee-lish! The meat sauce had just the right amount of bite, not overwhelming at all and it was cooked down so as not to be really watery. The burgers were fresh and quite flavorful, especially with the melty cheese on top. Their mac salad is made with mayo (not a fan of salad dressing) but not swimming in it either and the home fires were just about perfect. All in all, a successful quest gastronomical experience. I will certainly be making another trip out to Waterloo very soon and for lovers of a good "plate", I suggest you make a point of visiting there as well.