When it comes to brunch, Rochester reigns supreme. Peppered throughout the city, local eateries such as Jay’s Diner on West Henrietta, Jine’s Diner on Park Ave, Highland Park Diner on Clinton, and the Mt. Hope Diner on, well, Mt. Hope, have gathered a robust patronage over the years.
Another one of these gems, The Frog Pond, is a cozy establishment nestled at the intersection of Park Avenue and Berkeley Street. Ranked best brunch by Urbanspoon in 2012, The Frog Pond has received annual accolades from City Newspaper, including best burger, best American food, best of Park Avenue, and best of Rochester.
In 2011, to further raise its standing among critics and locals alike, The Frog Pond underwent major renovations, or as owners Kevin Cresgo and Eleni Papademetriou describe, a “love lift.” The so-called “lift” included new toad-skin seating booths, frog-green wallpaper, refurbished restrooms, and a memory wall celebrating The Frog Pond’s 30-year history.
Upon entering The Frog Pond, one thing became clear: this was no hole-in-the-wall diner. In fact, it barely even resembled a diner at all. Featuring an elegant, chic design with deep, verdant accents, not to mention a fast-talking, black-tied maitre d’, the place was more akin to an upscale boutique or café. That being said, it did have its own quirks and oddities too, ranging from the mildly annoying (wall-mounted mirrors that blinded east-facing customers) to the truly terrifying (several dozen clown drawings). Even with its questionable choice of artwork and tacky table settings (a single, artificial rose and two bottles of Heinz), The Frog Pond exceeded expectations when it came to the service and food.
With a lunch menu absolutely jam-packed with entrees, appetizers, sides, and desserts (there’s a separate menu for drinks), The Frog Pond served classic diner eats, reinterpreted with a slight twist. To start, I ordered the winter salad which includes feta, strawberries, onions, apples, oranges, and candied almonds on a bed of iceberg lettuce, all drizzled under a raspberry vinaigrette. As a vegetarian, I’ve had my fair share of salads at a plethora of restaurants, and Frog Pond’s take was delicious. A fresh note of bergamot, a hint of citrus, and the wonderful blend of feta and onion literally had me at the edge of my seat. In addition, I ordered the banana pancakes off of the brunch menu. Sporting a decadent caramel sauce, the pancakes achieved a masterful balance of hearty and sweet.
The portion size was large enough that I found no room afterwards for dessert, even as tempting as the crème brûlée looked. I’ll definitely be returning for that at another time.
Despite a moderate waiting time for a table and the weird house-of-mirrors decor, The Frog Pond is a great spot for weekend brunch or a weekday lunch date. With a quaint atmosphere and an array of fares from which to choose, The Frog Pond is a lilypad worth hoping to again.
Rating: 3.5/5 tadpoles
Arre is a member of the class of 2015.