Monday, September 22, 2008

Doozie of a Banana Split

Adler is not happy…

Why? Because we haven’t been able to find the small “mom and pop” local restaurants that her discriminating palate prefers. But we did find The Diner, a 2001 replica of a vintage 50’s diner complete with the owners 1956 Pontiac parked outside.

The menu offers a selection of comfort foods but they do escape the box with more exotic items like buffalo and elk burgers. This review covers three meals – a breakfast, a lunch, and mid-afternoon snack.

We seem to be in a breakfast rut – each of us ordered biscuits and gravy and country ham. Chuck opted for the home fries while I chose hash browns and a side of grits. The gravy was above average but not great but the biscuits – large, light, and flakey – saved all. Chuck’s home fries were the cubed rather than sliced variety.

I was ecstatic with my hash browns. When I order hash browns I too often get one of those frozen pre-formed patties. But, when I read on the menu that all of their potato items are prepared in-house, I decided to take the chance. Ordered cooked crisp, these were everything you could ask for in a hash brown with a crusty exterior and soft but not mushy interior. Usually, Chuck ends up eating some of my breakfast potatoes--a true sacrifice--but not this time. A very good breakfast but not the best we’ve had.

A week later, we were in the mood for comfort food and knew that one of The Diner’s specialties is chicken pot pie. So back we went. Chuck, of course, ordered the pot pie with a side of mashed potatoes. I had a hard time deciding between the meatloaf and country fried steak and finally settled on the latter with mashed potatoes and fried okra. While my steak was good, Chuck’s pot pie was excellent. The top crust was puffed pastry and covered a dish filled with chicken and vegetables in an excellent gravy that was more a thick broth than traditional chicken gravy. Even Chuck (Mr. “I want it so thick that my spoon stands up”) thought this gravy was an improvement from the floury style. With both of our orders, the mashed potatoes came with a white pepper gravy that was one of the best white gravies we’ve had to date. The okra was coated with a beer style batter and was lighter than those coated with the usual corn meal batter. This was a very good and satisfying lunch, but should we return, I will probably order the meat loaf. We had noticed the “Doozie of a Banana Split” for two on the menu but decided to leave this for another day, also.

Yesterday was that day, so off we went for a mid-day snack. Three large scoops of ice cream were topped with chocolate, strawberries, and walnuts and were topped with whipped cream. The vanilla ice cream is made on-site and begins with an egg custard. The strawberry and chocolate ice creams are Blue Bunny--made in La Mars, Iowa. This was certainly enough to share, and I will admit that we scraped the bowl clean. Needless to say, supper last night was on the light side.

So how does The Diner fare on Adler’s rating scale? The biscuits, all three forms of potato, pot pie, okra and sundae were above average bordering on excellent. The sausage gravy and chicken fried steak were good. So we are assigning The Diner 4.0 Addies (out of 5.0) with the intent of returning for meat loaf and a possible score revision.

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