we all know i am a biiig fan of brunch, so when the email landed in my inbox telling me all about the diner's new and extensive all-american menu, well, i was intrigued. i've been to the diner a bazillion times before, and their menu was already pretty all-american, so i was a bit curious to see what their adventure across the states, their mission to discover the best of the best foods from coast to coast, could add to an already-bursting menu. time would tell. i was booked in; i grabbed joel (date four, argh!) and off we headed last sunday to spitalfields market, to taste test the waters... so to speak.
their range of hard shakes does need to be tasted to be believed. we all know the line from pulp fiction about the "five dollar shakes" that don't even have any alcohol in them, so an alcoholic milkshake at £8.25 (current exchange rate conversion: $10.08) pretty much makes these "five dollar shakes" with alcohol in them a pretty good deal - considering the twenty years of inflation, at least.
i opted for the creamy nut shake, made with hazelnut and vanilla ice cream, with what tasted like a generous serving of baileys. i'm not complaining, it's my christmas drink of choice - and it is the season, after all. next on the list of flavours to try is the rumble young man rumble, with vanilla ice crea, rum, and butterscotch sauce. oh dear lord, that sounds delightful.
and it's not news that the diner is known for their impressive list of craft and local beers, but they certainly have upped their game since the last time i was there. joel was after something light and refreshing, and after seeing the kona big wave on the menu (about a fiver, which is a lot for such a small bottle i think), i suggested that. i'd tried that at a meat and beer pairing evening a few months back, and absolutely fallen in love with it. the golden ale is so fresh and not at all heavy, and - despite the fact he doesn't eat meat, it's still a great tasting beer to drink at brunch. or, with a vegetarian burrito. what a waste of a burrito. oh, whatever. i like pork, ok?
oh, we ordered far too much food; it was all in the name of intrigue though, so i think that sort of balances out the gluttony, right? for starters, i went with the classic french toast (£6.50). with bacon (£2.50). because see above re: pork. joel opted for the breakfast burrito (£8.95), because, well, you cannot go wrong with a breakfast burrito. now, i've only had french toast a couple of times before, but i have to say - this wasn't the best. it was a little under-cooked - so, more like french bread? but the bacon was crispy and charred, just the way i like it, and you simply cannot fault anything that has been drowned in powdered sugar and maple syrup. so, first course: a winner.
the breakfast burrito by all accounts "was very good". so, there you go. a wordsmith.
and for our "mains", it was an explosion of brown. i opted for the diner wings (£5.95) in the small size, which actually still turned out to be a whooooole lot too much for one person who'd already eaten a first plate of food, and sweet potato fries (£3.95) because i am too predictable for my own good. the wings were as tasty and spicy as i remember them, and the fries, well - they need no comment. i think the diner is one of the few places that never leaves me disappointed in my sides selection, and this day was no different. i still try - and fail - occasionally to make these at home, but they're just never as good as these. trust me, these will change your life.
joel opted for one of the new blue plates offers: the diner mac and cheese (no bacon)(see above re: vegetarian)(£6.95), and aaaaall of the food arrived at once. fools. gluttonous, gluttonous fools! while he only managed the majority of the burrito, the mac and cheese was a raving success that saw him scraping the remains of the cooked-on cheese off the side of the dish... long after there was none left.
our food was cold by the time we got to the end of it, purely because we'd ordered far too much of it, and we needed it to sort of, well, digest as we went. the staff were more than happy to host us while we coma'd out in the comfy booths, taking in frequent trips to the handily located rest rooms in between filter coffees and hard shakes and cold beers, until it was time to leave. it was late afternoon on a sunday when we left, and while we were there we were hardly disturbed. a few booths of customers came and went around us, and at one point there was a line out of the door, but once they'd all been sat, it sort of went quiet again. we were in a pretty quiet part of the restaurant too, so it was the perfect place to relax after a pretty hectic weekend. while digesting all of the indecent food.
massive thanks to the staff at the diner for being such wonderful hosts, and forgiving us the many, many requests for coffee refills in the three hours we took us residence in their restaurant. if you've not been already, pop it on your list. it's a chain unlike any other, and - despite the nature of the food (american), it's actually not all that oversized and grotesque looking. unless you order too much of it, that is.
find your closest diner here!
*our meals were complimentary, but all words are my own*