One of the bucket list items for this trip was to eat at an American diner. I’ve seen them in movies and on TV, but apart from a few “theme” places in capital cities, there is really nothing like them in Australia.
More by coincidence than design, we visited two different diners today.
While in NJ, we visited a friend who took us to Brother’s Diner in Browns Mills for lunch. It was nice but plain, decorated mainly in different shades of beige except for the counter section which had a marble countertop and hanging lights. It’s glossy, sleek appeal didn’t really seem to fit the rest of the place, but it was a very attractive focal point for the rest of the diner.
The menu had lots of choices. I ordered a ‘Canadian Burger’ which boasted an 8oz beef patty with Canadian bacon and provolone cheese, tomato and lettuce, and I added pickled beets and onion to that. The home fries that came with it were really good, but it was all I could do to almost finish the burger. It was delicious.
Our waitress was very interested in our trip and in Australia, and answered almost everything we said with, “you bet!”. We have been horrified at the wages waitresses work for here – as low as $2.75 an hour – so we gave her a $10 tip so that for the hour she was looking after us, she got Australian wages.
We left there and headed into Pennsylvania to visit with another friend who I love like my sister. She and her partner took us to Lyndon’s Diner in York, PA.
Its neon lighting and chrome trim looked more like I thought an American diner should look. We got inside and found that the deco inside matched the outside perfectly. It was an inviting and interesting place to be.
We ordered drinks, and I was disappointed to find that the bar staff had no idea how to put together a shot of Canadian Club and a glass of dry ginger ale with a twist of lemon. I didn’t realise that would be such a challenge. I’m pretty sure that they used more than one shot of whiskey and soda water instead of the dry; the drink tasted horrible until I ordered a glass of lemonade and added that in. That was a vast improvement, and I finished my drink quite happily.
Then the menu came. I’ve read shorter novels.
To be honest, I was a bit bamboozled by the extent of the choices and it took me ages to make up my mind. I eventually settled on the chicken parmigiana sandwich with sweet potato fries, a choice expedited by the fact that everyone else at the table had ordered and the menu was open at the ‘hot chicken sandwiches’ page.
As a starter, we shared a plate of ‘Loaded Fries’. Waffle cut fried potatoes were loaded with chilli con carne and cheese. They were sensational. Just the right level of spice and heat, and the occasional hit of jalapeños.
My sandwich was fresh and delicious, and the pickle that came with it was crunchy and tangy, just the way a pickle should be. The sweet potato fries were the perfect side. The whole meal was well presented and absolutely scrumptious.
The diner had a magnificent looking desserts counter, but by the time I had finished most of my sandwich and no more than a quarter of my fries, dessert was no longer an option. There’s no point in making oneself uncomfortable by overeating, after all.
Our waitress was lovely there, too. My friend picked up the bill, but I know she left a generous tip, too.
All in all, both experiences were very positive and the food was great.
Now I know for myself why so many scenes are set in diners.