It's been quite a few years since I've made the trip down the alley and up the stairs to find myself at Newt's--I'd say probably about 15 years. It was nice to see that most of the bar had remained unchanged. It's a small bar with a couple high tables, and then a small dining area with tables. And they still serve popcorn to all the tables which was probably a tad bit too salty. But then let's not kid ourselves. They give away popcorn so that you'll buy more drinks, so therefore, the saltier, the better.
We went after work on a Friday, to find the place about 1/3 full. It could have been the fact that there was a severe thunderstorm happening outside, or the fact that about half an hour earlier, there had been an announcement at work that there had been rotating clouds seen in SW Rochester and heading towards the City Centre. The weather was undoubtedly responsible for the fact that there were a couple of parking spots along the road out front where usually you'd be lucky to find one. Never fear, though, there is plenty of parking a block away in a city ramp, so closer parking than you'd find at the mall. However, since we were walking from work, we didn't need to worry about finding a parking spot as much as we needed to try to dodge the rain.
I ordered The Works burger, which the menu said wasn't for wimps. This needs to be taken seriously. It has ¾ of a pound of burger smothered in American cheese,hardwood smoked hickory bacon, crisp lettuce, fresh sliced tomato, red onion, and our famous House Bleu Cheese. I seriously had nothing else besides this meal for the rest of the night. Even then, I couldn't even think of eating. My thoughts on this burger:
1. I was surprised when they brought forks to us when we had ordered burgers. Ok, this could be standard operating procedure, and they could take you forks no matter what you order. However, when I saw the sheer enormity of the burger, I could definitely understand the need for the fork. I cut the burger in half and picked up one of those halves, only to find the toppings fall out. Therefore, I needed that fork to be able to eat the toppings that fell out of my burger. And as for the size, usually I can eat quicker than Tammy can. This time, I was only done with half of the burger by the time she was completely done with hers.
2. I ordered my burger medium, and it arrived a little redder than I am used to for a medium patty. This means that I didn't have to worry about it being too well done, at least, and it was a great tasting burger with quality meat. I've seen reviews where the reviewer claims the burger seemed to be pre-done, and that didn't seem to be the case here (though keep in mind many restaurants will half-cook burgers, especially around meal times, to help speed up service for when it's actually used, and if this is what Newt's does, I will not fault them for that since they are not alone). When taking in the creativity of the toppings and the taste of the burger, I can see why this place has been named as the best burger in Rochester for so many years.
3. But talk of the toppings brings us to point number 3. Overall, I was happy with the toppings, except for the bacon. Most of the bacon on my burger was great, but there were areas of it where it was hard and tough, almost like trying to eat a popsicle stick. Overall, because of this, I would probably avoid getting a burger here that had bacon on it.
4. And finally, we come to the fries. They were large fries, and cut long. And they were definitely mostly crunchy, the type of fries that crunch when you bite into them. However, there was no seasoning on the fries at all, making them rather plain and unimpressive. If they had some sort of flavor to them, these probably would have been in my running for best fries ever. With no seasoning, they don't make that list.
As for the server, it could have been a little bit better service, especially since the place wasn't too busy. I do remember service here being better in the past, making it a nice, friendly, quaint little bar/restaurant, which does seem to have suffered since time has gone on. Overall, though, a very pleasant experience. Now, it's off to try Five Guys to see if they can deliver on their threat of dethroning Newt's.