Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Review: Carroll Gardens Salonike

Carroll Gardens Salonike Diner

(sometimes rendered as "Carroll Salonike Gardens Classic" or "Carroll Gardens Diner Salonike" -- whatever works for you)

155 Smith Street between Bergen and Dean

F to Bergen Street; B51
Reviewed by Sars

The Order:
1st visit: Bagel deluxe platter

2nd visit: Scrambled egg on a roll with cheese and tomato

The Food:

The bagel platter isn't a keeper; the bagel itself was delicious, and the cream cheese came in individual serving cups, which I like, instead of in sweaty slabs, which I don't, but the lox was very orange, very salty, and kind of gristly-looking. It tasted okay, but presented as elderly.

And then there's the platter flora. Mangy, mushy olives. Dry, old cucumber; dry, old red onion. Decent tomato, but not enough of it. Lettuce was surprisingly fresh by comparison, but I never eat the lettuce anyway. Several lonely, shy capers.

If you want a bagel with lox, just order that and get the tomato on the side; that way they'll slice it fresh. Most people don't eat half the other crap anyway -- and certainly won't here, where it's clearly been in the fridge sans wrap for several days.

However! Nothing but good things to say about the egg-and-cheese. The egg-and-cheese, like pizza and Chinese food, is hard to fuck up, but also hard to do really well -- and the Carroll Gardens does it really well. Pillowy roll, but not too soft and chewy; good rebound. Slices of cheese top and bottom, and that's what I'm talking about. That is pro. Good tomato, not skimpy. Firm eggs, but mushy enough to cohere in the sandwich. That is fine work, gentlemen.

(I will add also that I've ordered in from this place many times, at Bean's house, and their grilled cheese is championship stuff. They can turn out a sandwich at this place for real.)

Also, the pepper isn't overfilled. THANK you.

They have wrapped mints and candies at the front register. Ehh.

The Drinks:

Good coffee for a diner. The sugar pourer looks sketch sometimes, but you can drink their java black. Prompt refills. The water glasses are nice and big, plenty of ice; prompt refills on that, too.

The Service:

Friendly and accommodating; they don't care how long you sit there and they're not eye-roll-y about special requests (I can be, for reasons that are probably obvious, rather picky about my tomato products). Very peaceful place to sit with a coffee and a glass of juice and read a book on a weekday morning.

The Surroundings:

Average pastel-redec stuff -- not my choice, but not notably tacky, either. It's quite spacious.

The ladies' room is very clean and roomy, plenty of paper products, doesn't smell like anything. There was a dude coming out of it yesterday, but hey, it's Brooklyn, you never know what's going on.


I could have done without the guy planing wood in the back yard right behind me yesterday, truth be told, but I had a little sunbeam on my back; the AC was blasting; I had good black coffee and a good book, and they served my tomato juice with lemon and a little doily, grandma-style, which I love for some reason (the juice was straight out of a can but whatev). The staff is really nice, and mostly in their twenties, but they're like old-man waiters.

So, in spite of the aged crudités and the name confusion, I'm giving this one a solid A.

(If anyone is interested in trying their gravy fries and reviewing those, please email me.)

Carroll Salonike Garden Classic on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Review: Vegas Diner

Vegas Diner
1619 86th Street
D to 18th Ave.; B1
Reviewed by Sars

The Order: Greek omelet; home fries; rye toast; coffee

The Food: The omelet was a little runny, but very tasty. The home fries were also yummy; the pepper/onion ratio was a little low, but whatever they used to season the potatoes made up for that.

Ketchup may have been watered; hard to tell. The table had sugar packets instead of a dispenser; I never know how to feel about this. On the one hand, the packets are more hygienic, and dispensers can really be a crapshoot in terms of how well they're maintained, whether the diner cleans them frequently and remembers to put rice grains in for smooth flow. On the other hand, packets are less authentic, to my mind; it's like when you ask for milk or cream for your coffee and they bring it in a tomato-juice glass. Just a little ad-hoc for my taste.

The toast was more like warmed-up bread -- limp.

The Drinks: Good coffee, slow refills.

The Service: The place is gigantic, and at 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon, the post-church crowd keeps the staff jumping -- but this is not exactly an unforeseeable occurrence, and while the waitress was pleasant, she was a little slow. The sixteen-top near our booth might have had something to do with that, but again, part of the point of going to a diner is that you get the food fast. I was on a train for 45 minutes, boss. Chop chop.

The Surroundings: Brilliant. Vegas is a big place, to the point where a guy coming out of the men's actually walked up to our booth and asked for his jacket, not because we actually had it but because he'd gotten lost. There's certainly a debate to be had about the big whole-city-block diners vs. teeny former-train-car diners -- and I'll join that battle in a future entry -- but the beauty of the sprawling places is two-fold: 1) the people-watching, and 2) the length of the counter, and the many visual delights behind it that result.

1) can't be beat at Vegas, which is like Sopranos central casting, and which also reminded me of the place my uncle took me to for "brunch club" in Michigan, at which time I was the only person present wearing neither a Members Only jacket nor an eye patch (not to mention blatantly ignoring doctors' orders by ordering bacon). Great blend of patrons -- families, girls' lunch, teenage post-church debrief, bowling-team brunch, Jackie Jrs. dogging chicks. Every stratum of Bay Ridge society was represented.

2) meant that A Plus and I spent a good ten minutes marveling at all the kinds of single-serving cereal available. And the full bar, which seemed kind of heavy on the crème-de-menthe selection…it's a diner. Do you need even one kind, much less three?

Vegas also features the ever-popular cocktail placemats, and in-table jukeboxes.

Miscellany: While waiting for A Plus in the octagonal foyer, I was called "hon" by a fellow patron who wanted to know the time. This woman was, I'm pretty sure, younger than I. Awesome. Also, two kids got into an actual full-on slaps-and-bites fight over what strategy to use on the toy-claw-machine thingie. South Brooklyn, man. No prisoners.

I'd like to come back to Vegas when it's not so busy and reassess it on the food merits, but atmo alone gets it an A-minus.

Vegas Diner on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 16, 2006

"Dineromon": Chapter Three

Grecian Corner Restaurant
234 7th Avenue (at 4th Street)
F to 7th Avenue; B67
Reviewed by Sars

The Order: Tomato and mozzarella omelet; rye toast; home fries; coffee.

The Food: The omelet is good. The potatoes…eh. They seem undercooked, and the peppers are too crisp as well. The toast is done exactly to my liking (i.e. seven out of ten on the burnt scale) and not pre-buttered.

The Drinks: Average coffee.

The Service: Our server seemed kind of confused by us, but the food arrived very quickly (although I wouldn't have minded waiting a minute or two more if it meant the potatoes cooked longer).

The Surroundings: It's kind of cramped, seating-wise -- better for a twosome than for a foursome. The Venetian/Greek canal murals by Garrity Hugh Collins can definitely pass the time between ordering and eating, what with the unicorns and the rainbows and the clashing with the Valentine's decorations and whatnot.

Miscellany: I was exceedingly pleased to spot the "good kind" of mints by the register -- the fluffy, chewy old-school brand with the flavored centers. Alas, nobody else had apparently spotted said mints since the early nineties, because they were stale as hell.

I know it was a blizzard day, but I'm still dinging Grecian Corner with a C+. Uncomfortable seating and substandard potatoes? Nuh uh.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Spaghetti and fish sticks

Have y'all ever noticed that spaghetti and fish sticks (or fish cakes) is almost always one of the specials at a diner? Because that just occurred to me and Mr. S recently. It's seriously on the specials board nearly every time. I'm going to start tracking it, I think.

Also: Is this something anyone actually makes in real life, like as a dish, at home? Have any of you had that for a family dinner? It strikes me as such a portmanteau leftoversy thing to serve, something you'd only have at a place where you're...already known. Is that just me?

Friday, February 24, 2006

"Dineromon": Chapter Two

Grecian Corner Restaurant
234 7th Avenue (at 4th Street)
F to 7th Avenue; B67
Reviewed by D3

The Order: The Hungrier Man (that's my unofficial moniker for the Hungry Man + an extra egg, because, really, one egg is kind of weak when you're "hungry"); coffee.

The Food: The centerpiece is two large pancakes mysteriously draped in a slice of ham (the HM includes one piece of bacon, one sausage, and one piece of ham). I actually prefer to coat my griddle-y goodness in syrup, not ham juice. Fortunately, it hasn't settled in too much and I can quickly achieve proper separation.

The pancakes are serviceable. The scrambled eggs are properly dry (but not dehydrated). The bacon is chewy (sorry, crispy fans).

The Drinks: Coffee. Check (prompt, hot, and within the acceptable strength range). Refills without nagging.

The Service: I liked our waiter. He handled my friend's questions about the relative masculinity of the Hungry Man and the Lumberjack with reasonable aplomb (or, at least, friendly confusion). Service is efficient.

The Surroundings: I sat below a large painting of a Pegasus. He looked friendly enough. The booths are exceedingly narrow, such that it is impossible not to knock knees and play footsie with your companion across the table. And this is not just one of the booths; it's all of them.

Miscellany: The context of the day -- the Big One of 2006 -- makes the experience of hot food and, more importantly, hot coffee, extra good.

The Grecian Corner is clearly upstaged by the Purity Diner three blocks away, which has bigger space, bigger booths, and a 10-pound menu. But the GC definitely has the cozy factor and, despite the more limited fare, it has both the Hungry Man and the Lumberjack, which make it a more quintessential experience.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Dineromon": Chapter One

Grecian Corner Restaurant
234 7th Avenue (at 4th Street)
F to 7th Avenue; B67
Reviewed by Andrew Wallace

The Order: I ordered the no-nonsense "Hungry Man": pancakes, one egg, sausage, ham, and bacon. I was initially somewhat torn as to whether to go with the "Lumberjack." I asked the proprietor which one was more intrinsically masculine. He equivocated, laughing nervously while insisting that they were both the same, thereby begging the question, of course, as to why there were two different but allegedly equivalent breakfast options targeted to the same demographic (i.e., tough guys). Upon closer inspection of the menu, however, it became clear that there was at least one crucial difference between the two offerings: the Lumberjack allowed one to opt for French toast rather than pancakes. That clearly indicated that the Hungry Man was the more masculine choice. Not to jump to conclusions here, but could the management have some kind of identity-politics agenda?

The Food: The pancakes were good, but not great. They came with a circular slice of ham draped over them, which was off-putting. The bacon was a bit too jiggly -- and this is coming from someone who has never had a bad piece of bacon, relishing as I do this meat whether it's burnt and crispy or on the undercooked side.

The Drinks: The coffee was quite good.

The Service: We were served by a man I took to be the proprietor. He was very friendly and attentive, avuncular and Mediterranean, exhibiting a willingness to please that perhaps betrayed a bit of insecurity, just the slightest hint of existential terror. He topped off my half-full coffee cup without asking. That's fine to a point, but how am I to calculate how much milk and sugar to add if I haven't made a mental note of how much coffee I had left?

The Surroundings: The Greek-themed murals provided a thematic backdrop to our meal; it wasn't hard to imagine Pericles or Themistocles sitting at the next booth. The booths were cozy; knees touch beneath them. A good second-date diner.

Miscellany: We came during the blizzard of the Millennium, so we had a lot of gloves, scarves, and coats. There weren't any coat hooks. Luckily, there was an empty booth behind us that provided a dumping ground for all our winter wear. Otherwise, we would have been in trouble.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Review: Manhattan Three-Decker Sandwich

Manhattan Three-Decker Sandwich
695 Manhattan Avenue (at Norman)
G to Nassau/L to Lorimer; B48
Reviewed by Sars

The Order: Tuna melt (tomato substituted for bacon); coffee

The Food: I love tuna melts, but they never have a good presentation; it's just kind of a frumpy dish. So, when I say that this particular melt looked especially shleppy, understand that I've already taken the essential dowdiness of the dish into account. The tuna contained wide streaks of unintegrated mayo, and parts of it looked crusty in a way that the heating of the dish couldn't really explain away…just kind of prison-food-y and not inviting close examination.

But sometimes it's the ugliest dishes that taste the best, and this one hit the spot -- good tuna/muffin ratio, good amount of cheese, and a good tomato. Tomato quality is, if I may take a brief sidebar here, a leading indicator of general value in a diner. You know the expression that you can tell everything you need to know about a man by his shoes? Same goes for diners and garnishes, or auxiliary foods like tomato and lettuce: if the place doesn't care to select out the demi-slices or the grainy tomatoes, it's seldom a good sign. I haven't really held any restaurants or sandwich shops to the tomato standard this winter, the worst I've ever seen tomato-wise -- everywhere you go, you pay four bucks a pound, at best, for these gritty, rheumy, tasteless, caved-in little tubercules, so when a restaurant gets its hands on a decent slicing tomato and is nice enough to share it with me, I've got to give props.

Props also to perfectly cooked steak fries, which came off the line hot. The melt itself could have been hotter, which is a common complaint of mine but not a huge deal; the fries, however, were flawless.

Also good: the complimentary slaw and pickles. I didn't touch the slaw, which was watery and looked, um, recycled, but the pickle selection included both dill and garlic. I heartily approve.

The ketchup was watered severely. I can forgive this practice, up to a point, because I know it's done for a reason, but when the ketchup is separating on my plate, it's gone too far.

But the 3D gets some seasoning points back with the pepper, which was, mirabile dictu, not overfilled to the point of pepperiosclerosis. Dear food service industry: I hate that. Quit filling the shakers beyond the lip.

The food arrived in about 15 minutes, not super-speedy but a good plating time.

The Drinks: Above-average coffee for that hour of the day, tasted like a fresh pot. Ditto the half-and-half, which is usually looking a little rough after sunset but didn't flake out in the coffee at all. Sweeteners came in packet form.

The Service: When your waitress looks like she's a walking three-volume memoir entitled Slinging Hash: My Life and Times, it's usually a good sign. Our server was exactly such a personage, that tired-aunt type who can turn on a dime from a gently weary "you want mustard too, hon?" to screaming at the dishwashers to get her some friggin' spoons. She took kind of a while to give us the check, though.

The Surroundings: Rando! Real plants, which I liked, and they were healthy and well watered and cared for, which I also liked -- it indicates that the diner isn't just a job to the owners. The rest of the décor was divided between the occasional nautical sign and weird Brooklyn-star-maps-y stuff. The place has a dining room in the back, denoted by an etched-glass "Dining Room" sign set off by crooked sconces. What that means: discrete tables. Not a big whoop, but it is a spacious place. The counter is good and long, and had a TV on above it, which I always enjoy.

Miscellany: I'm not a Jell-O fan, but an order came to the table next to ours in the old-style begonia-shaped bowl with a big old pile of Cool Whip on it, and it was really pretty; I was tempted, but not enough to order it.

Overall, I'm giving this bad boy an A-minus. The ketchup is an issue, and they could stand to work on the front-door climate control, which on a cold night was a little breezy for my taste, but the food was just the thing for a sub-zero night in Greenpoint, and my companion's to-order egg sandwich looked delicious (not to mention the pillow-sized kaiser roll it came on). Good portions, good service, good pickles.

Manhattan Three Decker Sndwch on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Review: The Americana

Americana Diner
6501 7th Avenue (at 65th Street)
N to 8th Avenue; B63
Reviewed by Sars and G-Force

The Order:
G-Force: Two eggs over easy, bacon, rye toast, coffee, water
Sars: Mozzarella and tomato omelet, home fries, rye toast, coffee, water

The Food:
G-Force: The whites of the eggs were slightly runny. I like a runny yolk, not so much with the whites (that's why I order over easy instead of sunny-side up). So, leave those eggs on the grill a little longer and you're set. Potatoes were good -- oniony and peppery and just greasy enough. Awesome toast. I also liked that since we both ordered rye, it was efficiently served on a single plate. The bacon was good – I'd give it a 7 out of 10. It was meatier than most diner bacons, but could have been cooked just a tad more. Seems the undercooked is a theme here -- maybe going at a less-busy time would give the food a few extra minutes on the grill. It did come damn fast.

Sars: Good omelet, a little overdone in spots; strong ratio of filling to egg. G's awesome toast is seconded -- well buttered, not burnt, not limp, plus-power overall. Great potatoes, right in the zone, not mushy, not hard. Good ketchup. I could take points off for the sugar packets (vs. pourable sugar), but I'll let it go.

The Americana was my home-team diner when I lived out in Dyker Heights, and this is by far the best meal I've had there. The meal is usually notably slow, by diner standards, but it showed up quite promptly this time.

The Drinks:
G-Force: Decent coffee, quick refills. The water glasses were also larger than the standard little plastic thimble, which is nice.

Sars: I didn't like the coffee. It had that sludgy burnt time-to-clean-the-Krups taste to it, which is not unusual, but this was markedly Vegas-buffet. Thumbs down.

The Service:
G-Force: Efficient -- it was an old-guy waiter who knew what he was doing. I honestly didn't pay a lot of attention to the server, which means he was good and unobtrusive. (At a diner, I'm kind of partial to the waitress with a bad dye job who calls me "hon.")

Sars: Average service -- but again, this is an achievement for the Americana. Previous servers of mine have been, while very personable, rather slow, and at times unwilling to believe that what I was ordering was actually offered on the menu (like, seriously, a grilled cheese. Yes, you "have that." Yes, I am "sure").

The Surroundings:
G-Force: Awesome. The outer tables are separated, booth to ceiling, with tinted Plexiglas -- kind of a huge sneeze guard. I guess that provides some kind of aural privacy -- if nothing else, it looks hilarious. There was a booth in the corner where a family was having some kind of Christmas celebration -- how great is it to have your family Christmas gathering at noon at the Americana Diner in Bay Ridge? Hey, if anyone in that family reads this, will you adopt me?

Also, lots of plastic "wood" veneer. Lots of it. Even on the ceiling.

Sars: The décor is what has historically saved the Americana from a permanent suck rating, because in addition to the rad stuff G mentioned, 1) each booth has its own jukebox; 2) the placemats are those hilare cocktail recipe ones; 3) the diner includes a full bar right by the front door, and from what I could see, it's composed primarily of jewel-toned liqueurs; 4) the infrastructure is clearly meant to suggest some sort of ski lodge. Like, heavy wood beams, fake-ola wood paneling, the lot.

G-Force: Best. Diner napkins. Ever. For a moment I lamented the lack of the overstuffed, faux-wood napkin dispenser on the table, but then realized we had a whole stack of big, soft napkins on the table. Also -- cookies instead of mints at the till! And a display case of cakes that looked really awesome: surprisingly (suspiciously?) awesome for a diner in Bay Ridge.

Sars: There are actually mints at the till -- but sad, stale little Starlight-type mints, not the pillowy licorice mints that, it seems, you can only get at the diner register (and which news reports consistently warn you are lousy with the germs of other patrons who failed to wash their hands). I also noticed that the milkshake glasses are the old-school wavy kind, which is a plus.

The Americana still isn't all that great. It's open 24 hours, and I was pleased to note that they'd fixed the sign outside so that it revolves again instead of kind of twanging back and forth all Ray Bradbury "There Will Come Soft Rains," but the food is average at best, and it's ordinarily quite slow in arriving. But I've seen big improvements since I last ate there, so if I count the points for effort, it's a B-minus.

Americana Diner on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Review: Daisey's Diner

Daisey's Diner
452 Fifth Avenue (between 9th and 10th Streets)
F/M/R to 4th Ave. and 9th St.; B75, B77
Reviewed by Sars and Mr. Stupidhead

The Order:
Sars: Grilled cheese and tomato on rye; French fries; Coke; rice pudding.
Mr. S: Caesar salad with "Cajun-style" chicken and anchovies; Diet Coke; rice pudding.

The Food:
Sars: Good standard grilled cheese, not crazy greasy like you sometimes get. The rye slices were on the small side; without the fries, it's more of a to-go snack.

Great fries, though. One fry in particular had a Platonic-ideal quality to it -- perfectly done, piping hot, the right size for a double-dip into the ketchup. The fries came out piping hot and clearly weren't warming-lamp casualties.

The ketchup was in a plastic bottle, which is not great, but that means it wasn't watered, which is good.

Strong pickle.


Mr. S: Gotta say, I knew there was a problem when the food came out almost TOO fast. The romaine was absolutely drowned in Caesar dressing, and there wasn't a single flake of parmesan to be found anywhere near my plate. The anchovies were warm, which I won't hold against them because it's a personal preference that I like them cold, and I wasn't about to hold up the meal to tell them to chill my 'chovies. The plate was gigantic and the chicken, while it was supposed to be grilled, was slathered in grease. Not.

The salad tasted fine – certainly not the best I've ever had. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being highest, I'd give it a 3.5. Would've been a 4.5 if I weren't so positive that the river of dressing didn't totally give me diarrhea later that night during a new episode of House M.D. Not Cool.

Back to the "Cajun" chicken. Not so much. A sprinkling of paprika does not a Cajun dish make, there, captain. A little effort would be nice. You failed on that one.

Rice pudding was great, except that our waiter apparently took "just a little bit" to mean "a metric ton" when it came to putting the whipped cream on top. Plus, he ragingly committed one of the R.P. Sins by smothering the heap of whipped cream with cinnamon. Also not cool. But, once I dug through the mound on top, the actual pudding was perfect.

Sars: I'd take issue with "perfect," although it was good and thick, but Mr. S is right on about the other stuff -- the serving had way too much whipped cream and way way too much cinnamon, like "nearly induced a sneezing fit" too much. I did think it was tapioca for a second until Mr. S corrected me; I'm still not entirely convinced it wasn't.

The Drinks:
Mr. S: Standard fare. Wasn't struck by it sucking, so I'm sure it was fine. Around 12 ounces, not too much ice, nice and fizzy.

Sars: The Coke was plus-power for a diner -- not flat, not too much ice. We got good-sized water glasses too, with ice. Definitely above average on the libations.

The Service:
Mr. S: Very friendly, but ignored certain specific requests (i.e. grilled chicken [was actually fried]; "not too much whipped cream").

Sars: Don't forget "don't make me sick." Heh. Overall, agreed. I would add that this is an "old-man waiter" diner, which ordinarily bodes well. It's often more than a job to dudes like that; the waiters at the late lamented Second Ave. Deli were career waiters who knew their slaw and didn't give you the eyebrow on special requests.

The food came out crazy-fast given that we came in around 3 PM and there weren't a lot of other customers. Sometimes off-hours orders take longer, but our lunch was plated in ten minutes, tops.

The Surroundings:
Mr. S: Totally nondescript, devoid of any common theme or matching tchotchkes.

Sars: Mr. S is generous; the décor that horrendous post-renovation light-pink-with-weird-murals mishmash so many diners wind up with after redoing the place. Also, what's with the phone booth? And if you're going to spend beaucoup bucks on new brickface (which, get a refund because it's fugly), how about ponying up for some new booths?

The place is gigantic, and I've never eaten in the back (or even knew there was a back until this visit); maybe it looks less like a halfway-house rec room back there.

But you're not there for the interior design, and the table was nice and clean. We took a booth by the window, but it looks out on a bus stop. I'd recommend a counter seat.

Mr. S: All in all, not the worst. I'd give it a tentative C+, with room for improvement. When I return, I'll have to test them on some of the more random dishes they offer, to see how quick they are on their feet.

Sars: Having not gotten the trots, I'll give it a high B. Also, confidential to out-of-work Second Ave. Deli guys: the Daisey is hiring.

Daisey's Diner on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Review: The Silver Spoon

The Silver Spoon
218 Flatbush Avenue (at Bergen St.)
2/3 to Bergen Street; B65, B67
Reviewed by Emily Lawton

The Order: Western omelet with home fries and wheat toast; coffee

The Food: Fairly disappointing. The omelet was more like fried eggs, folded. Though I tend to prefer "well-done" eggs over runny ones, this had an obvious crust both inside and out that spoke to careless cooking -- the kind of careless cooking that entails walking away from the grill for several minutes at a time. This led to the omelet being way too dry, which might've been less of an issue if I'd chosen something with cheese. But should I have to compensate for their mistake? The fillings were well-distributed throughout -- cooked into the eggs instead of bedded down in the middle. The red peppers were good, and the ham acceptable, but the onion pieces were too large and too crunchy for my taste.

The homefries here are below average, with soggy potatoes and the carrots and onions undercooked. I don't really like carrots in there to begin with (because really, fried carrots? ["I never heard of that in my life, and I can't say I wanted to" -- Sars]), and the difference in texture among the vegetables was disconcerting.

The toast was perfectly toasted, neither over- nor under-done. Buttering, however, was half-hearted, and made for greasy middles and dry outer edges.

The Drinks: Silver Spoon's coffee is standard diner fare: palatable but nothing to brag about. I like that they actually have a cup-and-saucer serving system, as opposed to a plain mug. The cream came in a 4 oz. plastic juice glass, which seems odd since there are a variety of dishes specifically designed for dispensing dairy into coffee. Their improvisation is unwieldy; it's almost impossible to pour without spilling cream all down the side.

The Service: The waitresses here are generally young women who are attentive but only intermittently friendly. Though my water glass was a tiny 8-oz. number, it was never empty. Coffee refills were readily provided. Food arrived in about ten minutes. Sadly, they have the New York mentality that dictates that customers don't really want their bills, even when they've finished eating many minutes before and seem to be fidgeting around in their seats. We finally had to go find our waitress to get the ticket, which is always irritating.

The Surroundings: Lots of mirrors, and where there aren't mirrors the walls are cluttered with framed things (letters, newspaper articles, et cetera). There's a vaguely Greek theme. The front windows look out onto Flatbush Avenue, which can be entertaining, but only a few tables have a view. People sitting towards the back can entertain themselves by watching the cook in the open kitchen, or by staring at their own reflections on every wall. The Silver Spoon has table seating, and a row of stools along the counter with the required diner allotment of old men eating soup.

Miscellany: This is a local establishment, with some degree of quirkiness, and it's my neighborhood place, so I wanted it to fare better. But any diner worth its salt should be able to serve up a decent eggs-and-potatoes breakfast with ease, and the Silver Spoon just doesn't deliver.

review by Emily Lawton

Silver Spoon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Seven Deadly Rice Pudding Sins

1. It's runny or soupy.
2. The top of the pudding is caked.

I don't mean that there's pudding crust in the bowl; that's fine. But when the surface of the pudding is kind of dried out, that means that they pre-served the portions and threw them all in the fridge instead of serving it out "fresh" when I ordered it. It's probably psychological, but when I can tell it's a pre-served bowl, it tastes different to me. And by "different," I mean "worse."

3. Raisins come with it automatically.
4. Too much cinnamon.

Rice pudding is not the most exciting dish in the world, but it's not supposed to be. Souping up the engine with an opaque layer of cinnamon leads to sneezing, and dark muttering.

5. It's actually tapioca.

Nothing against tapioca, but it's not what I ordered.

6. It's not sweet enough.

Not a frequent sin, thank God, but if you order the RP with whipped cream, you really notice it. (I usually go straight no chaser.)

7. It's served in a sundae dish.

Probably more of a peeve than a sin, but it bugs me and this is my blog so there.

Did I miss any?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Disco Fries

In response to a question from reader capurrs: "disco fries" = fries with brown gravy and cheese.

I have seen disco fries defined as fries with cheese only. Alas, no. Fries with cheese only = cheese fries.

The word "fries" looks really weird now that I've just typed it a bunch of times.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Review: The New College

New College Restaurant
224 4th Avenue
M/R to Union Street; B63 or B71

The Order: Cheese/onion/tomato omelet with home fries and rye toast; Coke

The Food: Standard straight-up-the-middle diner omelet, pretty much -- good-sized portion, not a fearsome amount of food (although, to be fair, my idea of "too much food" is a way bigger portion than most people's).

The omelet was somewhat unevenly cooked -- weak egg in spots, crunchy egg in others -- but the cheese was melted throughout, and was not skimpy, as sometimes happens (many diners will put less cheese the more veggies you add, not the case here).

The toast was fine, one piece burnt but the rest did its job. The New College has underserved the butter in the past; that was not the case today.

The home fries were excellent -- enough grease to get the job done, but not so much that it sat on the plate. Good green-pepper-and-onion chop ratio, not obtrusive. The potatoes had some zing, just enough to be noticeable.

The ketchup seemed watered to me…not blatantly so, but watered ketchup is a diner peeve of mine and the Heinz presented a bit thin.

The Drinks: Served in a 12-ounce glass, the Coke didn't have too much ice, but was a bit thick/flat. Water appeared without my having to ask for it.

I did not have coffee with this meal, but generally speaking the java is below average.

The Service: Outstanding, as usual. Very friendly staff, no wait, order-to-plating time was about eight minutes. Probably this diner's best feature is their short-order speed; even on a busy Sunday during peak brunch time, the food is out in ten minutes.

I was called "hon" several times, which based on my research in Jersey diners is closely correlated with overall diner quality.

The Surroundings: The diner itself is on a busy intersection of a thoroughfare in Park Slope/Gowanus; the people-watching is rather bleak, in the human-drama sense, and while I believe outdoor tables are available in warm weather, you…don't want them (they face a busy gas station).

The interior is…a little weird. Management picked out a bus-stoppy grey-flecked color scheme, which with the pink points gives the inside a Boulevard Of Broken Plates feel. I've seen far worse, but it does have the effect of sucking all the natural light out of the room two inches from the window.

Good variety of seating, though: booths, two- and four-top tables, and half a dozen counter seats.

Miscellany: This is the "home base" for BDHQ, so I'm pleased to report that it earns a solid B, despite what might seem like a somewhat salty appearance. Nobody's reinventing the wheel at the New College, and the coffee needs work, but considering how quickly the food is cooked and served, it's a strong entry.

Coming soon: 5th Ave.'s Daisey, and a field trip to the unmissed Americana in Bay Ridge. Suggestions? Send 'em!

New College Restaurant on Urbanspoon