Monday, September 16, 2013

Who’s Hungry for a Garbage Plate?

Nick Tahou’s
320 W. Main St.
Rochester, NY

I sure hope New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg never runs for Governor.

For the sake of the loud f-bomb-dropping black guys manning the griddle at Nick Tahou’s.

For the sake of generations of hung-over University of Rochester frat boys.

And for the sake of suit-wearing junk food addict business travelers like me.

That’s because the Nanny State Dictator-In-Chief down state who actually passed a law banning soft drinks over pint size would surely shut down Nick Tahou’s by executive order on his first day in Albany.

In The People’s Republic of Bloomberg, if a Seven Eleven Big Gulp is a dire threat to the health and safety of New Yorkers, than a Nick Tahou’s Garbage Plate is a weapon of culinary mass destruction.

That’s why I was excited as Anthony Weiner at a sorority slumber party when the counterman slid me my Styrofoam plate of kaleidoscopic greasy goodness.

Ah, the moment I’d been waiting for all day.

It had been 24 hours since I’d eaten. Nearly twelve hours since my alarm woke me at 4:30am for my flight to New York.

One TSA groping, two flights, several meetings later, I was ready to tackle Rochester’s most celebrated contribution to humanity -- the infamous Garbage Plate.

Invented for drunk and/or hung over partiers, the Garbage Plate is one of those epicurean items from which most sober people would recoil.

A base of fried potatoes and macaroni salad topped with skillet fried hot dogs, chili and onions, Nick Tahou’s has been serving its infamous Garbage Plate at morning, noon and night since 1918.

As a child, I would have refused to touch such a monstrosity.

Young Suit757 had one of those food mixing phobias -- no one food item could possibly come in contact with another.

Somehow, over the years, I’ve managed to get over that.

As it turns out, macaroni salad, potatoes, onions, chili and hot dogs all mixed together taste pretty darn good -- even stone cold sober on a Monday afternoon.

Work with me on this one.

You cannot minimize the role the law of gravity plays in this dish.

Grease from the chili sinks to the bottom of the Styrofoam, saturating the fried potatoes. Add a little salt and ketchup and you’ve got yourself a tasty, greasy pile of fried potatoes.

The sting of raw onions and spicy chili perfectly compliment the skillet-blackened hot dogs -- known here in Rochester as Texas Hots.

This is no ordinary Oscar Meyer microwaved dog, either. A little kick of spice buried in the meat tube, split open and grilled brown on the flattop, this is a high end processed meat.

Just when the spices start to tingle my palette, the cool refreshing tang of macaroni salad helps to counter-balance the heat.

Of course once I started to dig down into the bowels of my Garbage Plate, all the various elements began to mix -- much to the horror of any staunch segregationist -- or picky seven year old eater.

As it turns out, the dreaded “mixing of the ingredients” isn’t so bad after all. Chili, grease, ketchup and onions mixed into macaroni salad tastes pretty good all mashed up.

Even sober.

Like its signature dish, Nick Tahou’s isn’t much to look at.

Situated in a mostly boarded up long-abandoned old brick building on the not-so-good outskirts of downtown Rochester, the folks here put about as much thought into the naked white-washed décor as I do to the latest innovations in vegan cuisine.

Noticing that I polished off every last morsel of my Garbage Plate, the gruff counterman asked me how I liked it -- knowing the answer full well.
I happily obliged his compliment-fishing endeavor.


Just don’t tip off Mayor Nanny State. Or you will surely be out of a job.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.

Nick Tahou Hots on Urbanspoon

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