The Diner always surprises me. It feels like a franchise. An identikit-chain; from Camden to Kensington. And from buttermilk pancakes to baby back ribs and chili dogs, the menu‘s staggering, seemingly limitless – I can only imagine the chaos that goes on in the kitchen. Yet, somehow, The Diner always seems to produce high-quality food that never disappoints.
It doesn’t hurt that the basic restaurant formula’s a good one as well. Exactly as you’d expect, really; comfy ’50s diner booths, neon lightning bolts, flashes of red and black leather and rock music. And don’t forget the authentic hard (and soft) shakes, served in frozen metal goblets with extra ice cream.
I’m a sucker for The Diner’s buffalo wings, served with blue cheese sauce. I order a “small” portion, some sweet potato fries and a cheeseburger with extra bacon. The beer options are just as extensive as the food. I eye out the Magic Rock, Ska and Beavertown offerings, but eventually settle on a Lagunitas IPA.
When the food arrives it looks good enough to stop traffic along Route 66. To be honest, there aren’t a lot of franchise fast food joints that can produce such visually enticing meals with such regularity. Usually, you’d expect the odd bony chicken wing, a flattened burger bun, some misfired blue cheese sauce or the odd under-cooked chip. But not today. The smells get the juices flowing as well. Game on.
The burger itself is surprisingly impressive. When I ordered my cheeseburger the waitress asked what kind of cheese I’d like. Surprised, I had to look at the menu again. Options include Monterey Jack, Swiss, blue and American. It must be like IKEA back there!
I went with Swiss. And the taste lives up to the perfectly presented eye candy. Nothing too flashy. Just a simple, well done classic cheeseburger; pickles, red onions, lettuce, tomato and Diner burger sauce. My only complaint would be that the sauce dried up a bit towards the end. But by then, I was already one satisfied customer.