The Rochester should be a worthy contender amongst the boozy eateries on this part of College Street--most notably Sneaky Dee 's and Nirvana . It's got plenty of space, it's inexpensive, and the open windows by the entrance practically constitute a patio. So why--on a Saturday night, after a Spain-France Euro Cup match--is it empty?
It could be the sign. The Rochester is the reincarnation of Plaza Flamingo, and the enormous blue and white lettering above the doors is just as faded and illegible as its predecessor. Despite that, the venue is rather hard to miss, due to the open floor-to-ceiling windows by the entrance, allowing the music to act as advertisement. It does the job in attracting curiosity from fellow College Street revelers, though few stop.
Or it could be the red checkered plastic tablecloths. If you're from a very small town, The Rochester looks like that one "fancy Italian" place that's the go-to for both first dates and family dinners. Even the table the DJ's equipment is set on isn't exempt. It's pure cheese, and almost wonderful for it, recalling a time and place very different from the distinctly urbane chaos that is College and Bathurst.
Or it could be the music. The songs were lazily chosen and lacking any real common theme. "My Sharona" preceded Justice; Michael Jackson was an afterthought of Drake. The DJ looked listless, shrugging as he switched from one track to another, sometimes even while in the midst of one. He clearly couldn't give less of a fuck, though I can't blame him--there were only a handful of patrons, after all. There is a stage towards the back, which was apparently utilized quite well by NXNE. It is certainly large enough to cater to live shows (sorry, Unlovable ), though its mom-and-pop vibe may dampen spirits.
There's a fully equipped kitchen towards the back in full view, in which I could still see the grim faces of chefs hard at work at 1am. The full menu boasts sizable variations of sides and appetizers, entreés (with a $9 steak, natch), even dessert. Four television screens will make this a decent spot to watch the remaining Euro Cup games, and the staff are friendly but not smothering.
The Rochester is a refuge for fannypacks and gold jewelry; a place where Jagerbombs reign. It may never be hip, but who cares when there's cheap charm and convenience?