Recently I met my friend Jim at the Echo in Hyde Park for lunch. The Echo, founded in 1945, is the closest thing we in Cincinnati have to a diner. On the weekends, it’s lined out the door with hungover Xavier U students awaiting starchy comfort food to doctor them back to health. In the day, the Echo is a different crowd of older steadfast regulars.
After ordering my open faced tuna melt, Jim ordered the Go Green Mess. I had to look at the menu to see what this was. The menu describes it as, “Layers of home fries, scrambled egg whites, spinach, zucchini, avocado, and feta cheese, with a side of salsa.”
“Jim,” I said, “you’re eating a ‘somewhat healthier’ (making the air quotes sign) version of the famous Rochester garbage plate!” Wow, I thought, the Rochester garbage plate has finally made it to Cincinnati, and to Hyde Park, no less. Of course, the Hyde Parkified version had a healthier spin than the standard form.
The Rochester Garbage plate is really their diner version of our threeway. It’s like St. Louis’s Slinger, or Montreal’s Poutine, in that manner. Credit for its invention is given to Nick Tahou Hots, founded in 1918. The dish is a choice of two of the following: hamburger, cheeseburger, white hots or red hots (the Rochester version of our Cincinnati mett and brat, respectively), Italian sausage, chicken tenders, fried haddock , or eggs; and two sides of either home fries, French fries, macaroni salad, or baked beans. On top of all this, are options of onions, mustard, and a Greek meat sauce similar to Cincinnati chili.
A red hot version of the Rochester Garbage Plate at Nick Tahou’s.
I know it sounds ridiculous, and of course t was named the fattiest food in the state of New York by Health.com. But the Rochester Garbage Plate is a right of passage to New York state college students. A charitable Garbage Plate run is sponsored every year by a local Rochester fraternity where a relay team of three run to Nick Tahou’s, eat a garbage plate and run back. A charitable Ironman is run by only one person, who has to eat a Garbage plate at Nick Tahou’s.
Nick Tahou’s concoction spawned other versions at diners around Rochester. The Sloppy Plate, the Compost Plate, the Trash Plate, and the Hog Plate are just a few examples. Nearly every food show on Food Network and the Travel Channel have featured the Garbage Plate at one time.
The owner of the Echo says her Go Green Mess is a version of the Hot Mess, yet another version of the Rochester Garbage plate. Jim says, although a healthier version, Echo’s version, the Go Green Mess, is still a big plate of food, but certainly a tasty one!