As the bleak Rochester winter is finally making way for sunnier skies and the days are getting longer, it is now time to tack on the fourth meal of the day: the late-night snack. And what better place for a midnight munch than Rochester’s very own 24-hour Jay’s Diner?
Jay’s has been reviewed by CT in the past, so what I’m bringing you here is not a review, but an exploration of what to select when you find yourself in a Jay’s booth at God-knows-when in the morning.
It’s a great thing I brought Rosie, one of my favorite CT Eats companions, because while we both agreed that the root beer float was a midnight must-have, I hate root beer. When asked for three adjectives, Rosie offered up “creamy,” “cold,” and “float.” I then asked where the float would fall on a scale from “Bangerz” Miley Cyrus to current Miley. She said Ru Paul’s Drag Race guest judge Miley, which places it on the upper tier of the float hierarchy.
To honor the mindset of “random midnight cravings,” we decided on the deep-fried fantail shrimp, chocolate chip pancakes, lasagna, and a Mexican sundae.
The crispy shrimp was surprisingly great. It was crispy, well-cooked, and not too oily. The thick-cut french fries on the side certainly helped as well. It was overall way better than expected. I’ll give it a “Wrecking Ball” Miley, as in, it should have been worse than it really was.
And you can certainly call me a fan-cake of those chocolate chip pancakes, which had tons of chocolate throughout and a wonderful texture. The inside was cakey and fluffy with a slight chew. Plus, the edge of these pancakes was delightfully crispy. Even though that means tons of fat was used for cooking, it does make for a delicious crisping, so I’ll call it a guilty late-night success.
Next, we cleansed that 2 a.m. palate with a plate of lasagna. The best aspect was the tomato sauce, delightfully sweet with a bit of tang. The pasta, on the other hand, got lost in the sauce. It was mushy and overdone. The meat, though crying for seasoning, was still hearty. This was flanked by a thick hunk of garlic bread, a welcome surprise.
My one gripe with the lasagna was the oil spill around the base of the plate. An oily plate is a huge turn-off. I’d rather not see the mistakes I am forcing into my body when I’m living it up late-night style, thank you very much.
Sadly, I have saved the least for last: the Mexican sundae. Neither Rosie nor I knew what “Mexican sundae” meant but we decided to just go with the midnight flow, throwing caution to the breeze. How foolish. The ice cream was nice, the chocolate syrup and whip were decent. However, I cannot forgive the peanuts. This sundae was 70 percent peanut — more nut than ice cream. I don’t even want to rate this one on the Miley scale.
Overall, late-night Jay’s did exactly what I wanted. I got a fairly cheap, nonsensical meal of decent quality at an odd hour of the night. If you’re looking for a quick, cheap meal with lots of options for delirious, wild, sleep-deprived choices, then Jay’s Diner is the place for you.