Being that I'm a foodie-wannabe, I made it out to Downtown Rochester's Restaurant Week and headed to Penny Black on 4th street.
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Penny Black is located in Downtown Rochester, in the same building that served as the post office from 1938-1989. The post office was built in 1937, and "Penny Black" was the first pre-paid postage stamp circa 1840, hence how Penny Black restaurant got its name.
Penny Black in Downtown Rochester has a modern interior with a nice atmosphere, dark glossy wood table booths, black ceiling... Refined but still suitable for fun with flatscreen TV's, music, a stage for a band, and strings of lights in the bar area.
The menu at Penny Black has a little bit of everything. I went in thinking it was strictly pulled pork sandwiches and BBQ fare. But in actuality, Penny Black offers many selections such as salmon, nachos, fajitas, Fettucine Alfredo, meatloaf, BBQ sandwiches, salads, burgers, and more. Penny Black also has a Mac n cheese dish with a five cheese blend that sounds awesome. I had no room left to try it, but it may be worth it to even get the side dish portion next time. You can order the mac n cheese with chicken, shrimp, bacon or jalapenos.
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Some of the BBQ dishes on the Penny Black menu include brisket chili, BBQ chicken flatbread, pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwiches, ribs and more.
If you want to keep it light, there is a Lunch combo special for $6.95 and you pick two choices from a half sandwich, soup, and side salad. Overall. Penny Black menu prices aren't bad. I didn't feel I was getting tremendous value but I also didn't feel like I was getting ripped off. Pretty standard prices for dining with a twinge of upscale feel.
Sandwiches are served with house made chips that are served warm. You'll also get a 6-pack of Penny Black sauces delivered to your table with the meal. The sauces include Pepper Vinegar, Sweet, Spicy Ale, Carolina Sauce, Cholula, and Ketchup. I wasn't a big fan of the sauces. I've had better. I've heard a lot about Penny Black being a BBQ restaurant. Sure, some entrees are BBQ and they have their own BBQ sauces but I think true BBQ snobs would think of a PB as a restaurant that happens to have a lot of BBQ selections.
Penny Black has daily specials and kids eat free on Sundays, with the purchase of an adult meal for each kids meal. The kids menu includes several options like cheese quesadilla, mini cheeseburgers, corn dogs, etc. Every meal comes with a drink, side and dessert and averages about $5.
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Penny Black seems to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis but, that's not entirely a bad quality. Part of PB seems to think they're a great BBQ family restaurant and the other half seems to liken the restaurant to more of a fun bar atmosphere with a wide menu selection. It's kind of an odd combination. Penny Black appeals well to families with their huge booths and kids eat free nights but Penny Black is also a fun place kick up your heels on a girls night out or date night. Penny Black tries to be "everything" and gets it right most of the time.
Penny Black's drink menu offers over 10 domestic and over 10 imported beers, more than ten $9 martinis, $8 specialty drinks, and more than 25 draft beers.
Penny Black 4th Street Tap
124 W. Fourth St.
Rochester, MI 48307
Click here to find out more about Downtown Rochester Restaurant Week.
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