Who doesn’t love grocery store dining? There’s something especially appealing about sitting amongst the shelves of canned beans and boxes of elbow macaroni while chowing down on a drippy burger or plate of crunchy catfish. We always thought you had to head south to find places like this, until now. The Swan Market is a German meat market/grocery, located in a residential Rochester neighborhood, that offers a bargain lunch four days a week. And the Swan is no Northern knockoff of a Southern tradition; it is thoroughly Rochesterian in character.
Find yourself a seat at one of the oilcloth-covered tables in front of the meat counter and make your selection from the menu hanging above. Barry Fischer makes his own sausages (the Swan motto is “The Best of the Wurst”); if you don’t plan to make a meal of sausage, a good way to start is with the assorted sausage appetizer, at the incredible loss-leader price of $1.50/person. These sausages are extraordinary! The pale fresh pork (and veal?) bratwurst is flecked with herbs and seasoning, with a gentle flavor that is soul-satisfying, while the coarser-ground pink bauernwurst, with a punchier flavor, spurts juices as the taut natural casing is pierced. Other sausage possibilities include a smoked version of the bratwurst, as well as knockwurst, weisswurst, cajun sausage, bockwurst, smoked curry sausages… the selection varies.
Other lunch options might include roast pork with sausage stuffing, various schnitzels, the stuffed beef dish called rouladen, goulash, and that pink German loaf meat called leberkase. All entrees are $6.50, which includes two sides, or for the amazing price of $7.50 you can get a sampler plate of four or five entrees and four sides (the online menu, in the now locally requisite nod to Rochester’s signature dish, calls it the “German garbage plate”). And don’t ignore those sides, which may include red cabbage or kraut or spaetzle. Especially good is the loose German potato salad, loaded with smoky bacon; we’ve never had better.
Service is old-world sweet and caring, and all the while you can observe customers picking up hams and roasts and bacons to bring home. The original market goes back to the early 1900’s, we were told, although Mr. Fischer’s tenure here is more recent.