Thursday, August 23, 2007

Review: St. Clair

St. Clair Restaurant
Smith St., on the corner of Atlantic Avenue
F, G to Bergen St.,; B75
Reviewed by Jessa

The Order:

Feta, tomato and spinach omelet (made with egg whites) with home fries and rye toast, side of turkey bacon, coffee.

The Food:

The omelet wasn't runny, which is just about a miracle when it comes to egg whites. There were plenty of veggies and cheese to appease me, as I hate skimpy omelets. The feta was well distributed, so salting my eggs was kept to a minimum.

The potatoes? Meh. Standard thin-sliced diner style, with nary a pepper or onion in sight. I gave up on those after a few bites.

I did like the rye toast, which was still chewy and plenty buttery, with just enough warmth and crunch. I've never been one for super-crispy toast, but those who are may want to ask for theirs well-done.

As for the turkey bacon, it came to the table with a fair amount of grease on it. I'd pretend to be outraged, but, at a diner, grease equals love. It wasn't slimy or undercooked, which was a huge plus.

The menu was huge, with standard diner fare such as burgers, triple-deckers and the like, and tons of dinner specials.

The Drinks:

Average coffee, fine with a little milk and sugar. I wish I could let you in on their coffee refill habits, but the bright fuchsia old-lady-lipstick stain I noticed on my second sip of coffee put the kibosh on my coffee cravings.

They were very quick to give me more ice water without asking, though, so I'm guessing they would be quick to refill a coffee mug.

The Service:

Full disclosure: in the past, my friend Girl and I had a couple of bad experiences at St. Clair in the past. We would divvy our diner meetings between St. Clair and Salonike. Then, we got this one waitress who was constantly rude while taking our order,

practically throwing our food on the table and then tossing us the check without ever asking if we wanted refills or anything else. When the same waitress was nasty to my friend's child, we stopped going altogether.

This time around, however, said waitress was nowhere in sight, and the service was super-attentive. Despite the busy lunch rush (on a Thursday!), I was approached in rapid succession by three waitresses who gave me ice water, handed me a menu, and took my order, respectively.

My favorite was an older woman, a straight-up sitcom diner waitress. A conversation I had with her on the muggy summer day I went to St. Clair went something like this:

Friendly Waitress (FW): Hot enough for ya?
Me: Seriously. I'd like to kiss the person who created the air conditioner full on the lips!
FW: How about the guy who created work? I sure ain't kissin' him!

ZING! Oh snap! Not exactly a "kiss my grits," but it'll do.

The Surroundings:

Think Brown Derby meets The Krusty Krab. St. Clair has a "bygone era" feel about it. The sign outside has the triumvirate of old-school restaurant attractions: "Steak-Seafood-Chops." Inside, the low lighting and the wooden and red vinyl diner booths were complemented by a long counter with red vinyl swivel stools, where an old man had his melon cut by hand by a cook. The Sanka packets were stacked high, as were the cream cheese thimbles. The wood-paneled walls were covered in fishing nets and nautical accoutrements. And pistols. A second dining room further in had a hunting lodge feel, where men in coonskin caps gather and curmudgeon about "kids these days."


The ketchup was pourable, people! Pourable! And not watered down! That was enough to make me happy, seriously. Also, can I ask if anyone actually ever orders the cottage cheese and Jell-O combo in the "diet delights" section? Or anything in that section? It's so kitschy, no?

Funny enough, I spotted fishcakes and spaghetti no less than three times on the menu, as well as fishcakes and eggs. Curiouser and curiouser.

St. Clair is definitely for meeting with a friend. It's a bit of a downer to be there alone, since the lighting isn't conducive to reading, my solo-dining activity of choice.

I have to give St. Clair a B+. Clean your glasses properly, people. And if you bring that nasty waitress back, you're downgraded to a C. I'll be watching you, St. Clair.