LDR Char Pit
4753 Lake Ave.
By Matt Norris
If somehow you really tick off the gods and are sentenced to live the remainder of your days 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 out of the year, you can enjoy sand, sun, and fun at this beachfront enclave 15 miles north of downtown Rochester, NY.
Just don’t even think about jumping into the water – I’m pretty sure Lake Ontario doesn’t ever warm up enough to be in anything but a full-coverage wetsuit.
Of course this proud traveler’s visit to Rochester did not coincide within that five or six week interval of sun-splashed frivolity.
Of course not.
Try more like early November.
It was cold 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 like Santa Cruz in the off season—nobody on the road, nobody on the beach. I could feel it in the air. The summer was out of reach.
Empty lake, empty streets, the sun goes down alone.
In November on Lake Ontarioooo-ooo.
Yep. Henley’s “Boys of Summer” were long gone. Not that he was singing about Rochester, NY, but still.
Well, the arcades and custard shops might be “closed for the season,” but there is thankfully one institution here that garners enough of a loyal following that it stays open year round.
LDR Char Grill.
This place is like going to an indoor cook-out.
The scent of hot charcoal meeting fresh beef permeates the air.
And the thing to order here is the steak sandwich.
What makes this sandwich so amazing is its simplicity. Thinly-sliced beef char-grilled for a minute or two on each side, then placed onto a hearty bun—with a few sautéed onions if you want.
Tender, beefy, juicy.
It doesn’t need any seasonings, sauces, or condiments.
The greasy drippings from this charcoal-kissed meat is all this sandwich needs.
I admired the pool of juices on my paper plate 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 those people? I could smell that for eternity. In fact, I’m pretty sure I will. I have it on good authority that heaven will smell like char-grilled meat.
But that’s what makes LDR Char Grill such a shirt-buying-worthy destination.
The grilled meat here is almost as good as in my backyard; the only difference being is I have beer on tap at home.
As I listened to the sounds of sizzling meat, it made me want to try one of LDR’s delicious-sounding burgers. Those have got to be good!
Or their char-grilled “hots” – a distinctly Rochester term for hot dogs. Or “The Garbage Plate”—various sausages piled on top of home fries on top of macaroni salad, which is LDR’s version of a Rochester staple.
Or what about those homemade pies?
Ah, so much good food to try and so little stomach.
I did manage to find room for a cup of LDR’s pumpkin soup. Now I know, pumpkin soup sounds a bit hipster. But……
Sweet enough to qualify as dessert, this soup wasn’t some runny, pretentious attempt at soup.
No. This soup was full of chunks of sweet gourds and topped with whipped cream.
The taste of brown sugar and nutmeg brought me back to visions of a freshly baked pumpkin pie being passed around the 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 my bare feet, I slipped into some pretty deep philosophical thoughts.
Like, why do people live the way they do?
I mean, if you like the sand and sun and water, why live here by the shores of Lake Ontario, where you only get to enjoy it for 10% of the year?
Why be miserable the other 90% of the year?
Sure, Ontario Beach beats the heck 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?
But then I caught a whiff of 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!