On my recent trip to visit friends in the Rochester area of upstate New York I had the opportunity to experience a little more of downtown Rochester. Most of my previous visits have centered around the Finger Lakes which are beautiful on their own but I’ve been wanting to get a better “taste” for Rochester itself.
Before my friend Tom and I headed out to the Jello Gallery & Museum in LeRoy, NY we first did lunch on Park Avenue in downtown Rochester. Park Avenue is an attractive older neighborhood with lots of unique shops and restaurants that have either been there for decades or have popped up to attract the local “yuppie” crowd that have made the neighborhood their home.
“Charlie’s Frog Pond” was the name of the restaurant I chose from the many we considered during our online browsing. When visiting a city and looking for a restaurant I usually have to consider about a dozen choices. As with most chefs, eating out for me is “research”. Anyone that can put up with me looking at menu after menu deserves an award just for their patience. Thankfully Tom knows from experience what to expect and even suggested we first walk down both sides of the street to find the right venue. As I’ve mentioned before, I love breakfast and my choice of Charlie’s Frog Pond was based primarily on the fact they served breakfast all day. They also had several “blackboard” specials that sounded particularly appealing so Charlie’s it was. (of course the list of a half-dozen homemade pies featured that day might have had something to do with it as well.)
Charlie’s has apparently been a Rochester landmark for quite some time. It has recently come under new ownership and they have apparently brought it a little more up to date and brightened it up. The bright yellow interior with frog images of all sorts certainly did its job to add a jolt of color! It’s nothing fancy, really just a diner type set-up with booths in the front and a tiny cramped open kitchen in the back. Sidewalk seating is available at a few tables in front along Park Avenue.
Despite the fact it was breakfast that first attracted me, I was even more drawn in by one of the lunch specials which was Grilled Chicken & Peach Salad with Pretzel Croutons. Luckily Tom also enjoys trying new items so we opted to do an “executive tasting” by ordering multiple items and sharing so we could sample several things.
I went for what is supposed to be one of their house specialties: Fritatta with Italian sausage, peppers, and onions. We both shared the Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad with a house basil vinaigrette.
The salad was excellent and surprisingly enough, one of the best parts were the pretzel croutons. I had initially feared they might be those rock hard pieces of large broken pretzels you buy in the store. These were the large soft-style pretzels that had been cut cross-wise into rounds, tossed with butter and toasted until just done enough but not hard and crunchy. The basil dressing was perfect with the flavor of the grilled chicken and peaches. Unfortunately the frittata was nothing more than a pile of scrambled eggs with peppers and onions. I guess their idea of a frittata is different from mine, very disappointing especially since comments that I read online seemed to highly recommend this item. The “Horny Toad” is a definite “must have”. It’s not fancy but simply just good hearty diner fare with lots of cheesy, meaty, flavorful goodness!
We each capped of lunch with a piece of homemade strawberry rhubarb pie. An excellent choice and so good I ate it before I thought to take a picture! In fact it was sooo good, I returned the next day after I visited the Rochester Public Market with Tom’s folks. I happened to realize we were driving through the neighborhood and suggested we swing by and try a few other pies that we didn’t have time to try the first time! There’s nothing quite like homemade pie (For the record the second day we tried Peach & Blackberry, Chocolate Macaroon, and Dutch Apple Pie)
As long as you’re in the area, step across the street and visit Stever’s Candies, a Rochester landmark since the 1950’s. Originally started in another location, this is now their primary store and I’m told that during holidays such as Christmas and Easter customers are lined up out the door and it becomes necessary to have a one-way line that stretches from the front with the exit coming out the back service area of the store. While they specialize in making various dipped and molded chocolates, they also carry a huge assortment of other types of gummy confections, hard candies, and licorice.
While they specialize in making various dipped and molded chocolates, they also carry a huge assortment of other types of gummy confections, hard candies, and licorice.
Charlie’s Frog Pond
652 Park Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
Open 7 Days a week
623 Park Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607