Monday, June 08, 2009

Review: Ocean View Diner

Ocean View Diner
515 Atlantic Avenue (at 3rd Avenue)
B/D/M/R/Q to Atlantic/Pacific; 2/3/4/5 to Nevins; B37, B63, B65
Reviewed by Sarah D. Bunting

I've avoided reviewing this particular diner, because before it was the Ocean View, it sucked -- sugar-sticky tables, lackadaisical service, bafflement at the concept that offering a kids' menu might mean that kids will order items from it, C-minus eggs. Oh, and: no ocean view.

Trapped in traffic on Atlantic Avenue recently, however, I noticed the crisp new awning and the banners, plural, assuring prospective patrons that the spot is under new management, so I walked over on a weekday to have some lunch.

The Order:
Greek omelet with rye toast and home fries (hash browns are apparently not on offer); Diet Pepsi.

The Food:
As I waited for my omelet to hit the table, another customer asked for a raw egg in his milkshake, but the waitress turned him down, citing Board of Health restrictions. Moments later, I had to restrain myself from offering the guy a forkful of my omelet as a stopgap solution, because maybe the management is new, but the same medium-rare-at-best attitude pertains on the griddle.

The eggs presented as if they'd only just begun to cohere in the pan, and I tried to tell myself that past experience had just made me overly sensitive to the possibility of an undercooked egg, but the vegetables told the truth: the tomatoes hadn't warmed up past room temp, and the onions tasted more or less raw. Also, not enough feta.

The home fries fared better -- good chop with several pepper bits on my plate, and strongly seasoned almost to the point of spiciness. A bit dry for my taste, but frankly I was relieved that they could overcook something.

The server asked if I wanted butter on my toast, which I found a bit odd, and then apparently she meant "do you want all the butter," because each slice arrived with a soup-spoon-sized scoop of butter on top. The toast itself was firm, but not burnt.

The ketchup seemed a bit thin. Probably watered. It's in a proper glass bottle, though.

The Drinks:
The Ocean View doesn't appear to have a soda fountain; I got a glass with ice, and a can. Fine, but again, a bit odd.

The Service:
In this area, the place has improved. I walked in at 12:40 to find the place deserted, which could explain the attentive attitude, but having the place to myself on prior occasions hadn't meant a thing; one dining companion of mine, after our third failed attempt to signal for a coffee refill, compared it to being shipwrecked. The diner started to fill up closer to 1 PM, but the waitress didn't forget me.

The Surroundings:
Also much better: the table was clean, all the condiments were filled (but not overfilled!) and the mouth of the sugar dispenser was like new. A flat-screen TV had the news on over the counter. It didn't look to me like they renovated anything -- just cleaned holy hell out of it. All the wall stuff -- Brooklyn Eagle headlines, Dodgers posters, vintage maps -- is the same as before.

It occurs to me that, every time I've had undercooked eggs here, I've also been one of the only customers in the joint, so maybe the griddle isn't hot enough, or the guy's in a hurry or something…it's probably a coincidence, that may have something to do with it. Seriously, though, another 60 seconds to let the edge of the omelet brown up and take some bite out of the onion, and it's perfectly fine. But it's an omelet; I don't want it al dente.

The butter thing is also bizarre -- you can't just buy the little mini-tubs? And you don't have a soda fountain? This is how you make your profit margin, chief: spend eleven cents a pour on the soda, charge two bucks. Fifth-graders know this.

Everyone who works there is pleasant, the menu is your garden-variety pretensions-to-fine-dining affair (the tip-off: the word "specialities," where the extra "i" signals to the discerning palate that continental pleasures attend the…pork chop? I don't know). But it's as though everything they know about the actual food, they learned from pictures -- like the mermaid teaching herself English from TV in Splash.

They mean well, and not having to unscrew the top of the pepper shaker and handle the overflow was nice, but it's just not that hard to make a decent Greek omelet. Fool me four times, shame on me. Flat C.

1 comment:

fuss said...

I was so excited when I moved to this block over 5 years ago that there was a diner on my corner. Then I ate there.

I probably dined at the City Lights less than 5 times since then, mostly out of sheer desperation. I have ordered food from there a few more times, but again, only out of necessity, meaning Hanson was closed.

I have ordered from Ocean View a few times and it is definitely a step up, but no great shakes. Have not taken the dining-in plunge yet. I think I will keep walking to the St. Clair, Carroll Gardens or the Academy (which you don't seem to have reviewed yet, but you really should b/c it's awesome!).

Great blog, Sars!