As committed diner fans, we don’t require much from them other than OK food and lack of filth. Pretty low standards, admittedly, but for a burger or bacon-and-egg breakfast it’s usually enough. Which is not to say we don’t appreciate a diner that’s either gorgeous or has exemplary eats. And the Highland Park Diner, in the South Wedge section of Rochester, scores on both points.
The Highland Park is a 1940’s-era Orleans, and if that diner manufacturer fails to ring a bell, that’s because the Orleans diner company, which was located about 30 miles west of Rochester in the county of Orleans, reportedly only produced anywhere from 2-4 diners before they went under. The Highland Park is believed to be the only operating Orleans diner in the world. And if that’s not enough, it’s been in the same spot since day one. The original diner went under in the 70’s, when it became an OTB parlor, but in the 80’s it was restored to its original glory. This teal and cream art deco-styled diner with rounded-corner windows is a real looker!
The food is good enough to appeal to those who find no appeal in diners, but rest assured this is no fancy-pants restaurant dressed in diner-chic. The Highland serves regular diner food, at regular diner prices, but does so with uncommon execution. OJ is fresh-squeezed. Corned beef hash is homemade, and is some of the best hash we’ve had in a long time. The banana hazelnut French toast is a local legend, though we have not yet had a chance to sample it.
On our next trip to Rochester we hope to visit the diner for lunch. They claim to serve a great hot fudge sundae, and you can even get a Highland Park version of a “plate”, that heaping amalgam of modest ingredients made famous at Nick Tahou’s, where it is named “garbage plate”, and is now served at just about every down- and mid-scale restaurant in Rochester.