Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Indoor Cook-Out Means Summer’s Never out of Reach

LDR Char Pit
4753 Lake Ave.
Rochester, NY

If somehow you really ticked off the gods and are sentenced to live the remainder of your life in up-state New York, you could do a lot worse than settling here on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Just think, for an entire five or six weeks per year you could enjoy the sand, sun and fun of this beachfront enclave 15 miles north of downtown Rochester, NY.

Just don’t even think about jumping into that water – I’m pretty sure Lake Ontario doesn’t ever warm up to wetsuitless temperatures.

Of course my visit to Rochester didn’t coincide with that five or six week interval of sun-splashed frivolity.

Of course not.

Try early November.

It was cold down along the beach and I couldn’t help but feel like I was living through a Springsteen song on the Jersey shore with the wind whipping down the boardwalk.

Or maybe it was like Santa Cruz in the off season with nobody on the road and nobody on the beach. I could feel it in the air. The summer was out of reach.

Empty lake and empty streets, the sun goes down alone in November on Lake Ontario.

Yep. Henley’s “Boys of Summer” were long gone (not that he was singing about Rochester, NY anyway).

All the arcades and custard shops might be “closed for the season”, but there is one institution here at the shore’s edge that has a loyal enough following that it stays open year round.

LDR Char Grill.

This place is like an indoor cook-out.

The scent of the marriage of charcoal and beef permeates the entire restaurant.

The thing to get here is the steak sandwich. With onions.

What makes this sandwich so amazing is its simplicity. Thin sliced beef, char grilled for a minute or two, at the most, on each side, folded onto a bun. With a few sautéed onions, if you want.

That’s it.

Tender, beefy, delicious.

It doesn’t need any seasonings or sauces.

The greasy drippings from the charcoal-kissed meat produce this sandwich’s own condiment.
I admired the pool of brown grease on my tiny paper plate and the flame-kissed meat being flipped on the grill in front of me and dreamed about my backyard grill.

Why is it that charcoal-seared beef tastes so good at home, but is so hard to find in restaurants?

Could it be the neighbors don’t want to deal with commercial-sized plumes of charcoal smoke?

What is wrong with these people? I could smell that for eternity. In fact, I’m pretty sure I will. I have it on good authority that heaven (if I make it) for Suit757 will smell like char-broiled burgers.

But that’s what makes LDR Char Grill such a shirt-buying-worthy destination.

The meat grilled here is almost as good as in my back yard; the only difference being Suit757 has beer on tap at home.

Listening to the sizzling meat made me crave one of LDR’s delicious-sounding burgers. Those have got to be good!

And their char grilled “hots” – a distinctly Rochester term for hot dogs. And their red, white and blues plates of various sausages piled on top of home fries and macaroni salad – LDR’s version of another Rochester hang-over staple – “The Garbage Plate”.
And what about those homemade pies?

Ah, so much good food to try and so little stomach vacancy.

I did manage to find room for a cup of LDR’s pumpkin soup.

Sweet enough to qualify as dessert, this soup wasn’t just a thin runny pumpkiny kin to a more traditional tomato soup.

No. This soup was chock full of chunks of sweet gourds.

Topped with a swirl of whipped cream, the brown sugar and nutmeg brought me back to visions of a fresh-from-the oven pumpkin pie being passed around the Suit757 dinner table on Thanksgiving.

After paying my $10 tab for my soup and sandwich, I walked a block down to the beach.

As the ice cold waters of Lake Ontario lapped against by bare feet, I slipped into some pretty deep philosophical thoughts.

Like, why do people live the way the do?

I mean, if you like the sand and sun and water, why live here by the shores of Lake Ontario, where you can only enjoy it for 10% of the year?

Why be 90% miserable?

Sure, Ontario Beach beats the hell out of downtown Buffalo, I suppose. But why bother? In this ever more mobile society of ours, why not just hop the ‘Hound and move to Florida?

Then I caught a whiff of the charcoal smoke wafting down the beach.

I suppose some things are worth sticking around for.

And just think, only 34 more weeks until summer’s back in reach.

Rating: Bought the Shirt!

Ldr Char Pit on Urbanspoon


  1. My girlfriend and I beat you by a year or two, but it was around December or January. There wasn't any snow on the ground when we arrived in Rochester, but it started to snow as we got closer to LDR Char Pit. We each enjoyed a yummy steak sandwich, all by itself without onions, and we look forward to a return visit. The snow was falling fairly heavily when we left, then there wasn't any snow at all by the time we got to the Thruway. That's the way it is with lake effect snow.

    1. Brown Grease has never looked so delicious, the artery clogging goodness may not be good for the body, but it sure is good for the soul.

  2. Yeah, no thanks on the snow! I definitely want to check the place out again -- next time in the summer.

  3. Great review-you get it (life) AND enjoy it as you go. See you at LDR

  4. Looks Delicious! Brown Grease not withstanding I can taste the charcoal flavoured goodness wafting from the burger! Just be sure to recycle those paper plates when you are done. You can get get a 2-fer by recycling the plate and the brown grease trapped on it in one move!