South Troy Diner

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Every now and then, we come across a diamond in the rough.

After stopping at the Troy Riverfront Farmer’s Market this morning and stocking up on gourmet peanut butter, we headed to the nearest diner that Google could direct us to, which was the South Troy Diner.

If it hadn’t been for the giant coffee mug and Diner sign on the exterior, we would have missed it. Located at the intersection of 1st and 4th, The South Troy Diner is one of those places that blends into the surrounding houses and apartment buildings, but is more of a gem than we could have expected. Walking in, all we could smell was the enticing scent of home fried potatoes and fried eggs. I was taken back to memories of Sunday morning breakfasts with my family.

We picked a booth without having to wait and the waitress took our orders for coffee and water. I sat down way too fast (ok fine, I slumped like a bear) into the booth and sank pretty far down, as the seats were not as supportive as they appeared. My crankiness was quickly abated by coffees and water from the waitress, and menus for perusal.

While there were only about three pages of actual breakfast and lunch menu items (SO many menu sponsor ads), the food listed all sounded incredible. Mind you, we were there the morning after St. Paddy’s Day, so there were some mouthwatering Irish-American specials listed on their specials dry erase board. The place was also pretty empty except for a few tables; I assume many people were nursing Guinness and corned beef hangovers this morning.

We’ve had our fill of omelettes in the past month or so, and went in a different direction this weekend. When the world’s nicest and most helpful waitress told us that the turkey on the Turkey Club Sandwich was roasted in-house, Matt knew he had to get it. He also ordered the Ultimate Home Fries, which are deep-fried and covered in sausage, peppers, onions, and nacho cheese. I ordered the Belgian Waffle with blueberries…it’s got fruit so it’s healthy, right?

While we waited for our food, which didn’t take long, we noticed the home style decor, a combined nod to 60s-style diners and your grandma’s classy den.

It took less than 15 minutes to get our food, and as soon as Matt took a bite of his sandwich, he said “This club is a 5!” I tasted the wild blueberries and whipped cream on my Belgian waffle, which I was quick to give a high 4. The only thing that would have made it a 5 was fresh homemade whipped cream, but overall the food was a 5. I haven’t had such a tasty, hearty waffle in such a long time.

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The coffee, which was one of the better coffees we’ve had, was a strong 3 while black. It was slightly weak in taste, but very smooth, non-acidic, and didn’t have that left-on-the-burner-too-damn-long taste that so many diners have. With the fresh Byrne Dairy creamer and sugar, it was a strong 4. The water was nice as well, a solid 5 out of 5. No lemon needed.

The service was stellar as well, a definite 5 out of 5. Our waitress made helpful recommendations, was incredibly nice and friendly, and refilled our coffees frequently. As you can see from the photos, there isn’t much chrome, but this friendly, relaxed diner definitely has an old-school feel to it. From the decor to the sounds of the chef scrambling eggs in the kitchen and the friendly waitress, the South Troy Diner is a delicious and low-key experience from start to finish. The dinerness is a 4.

The diner’s interior is much bigger than the exterior suggests, and there is ample parking right behind it. They accept cards and cash as payment, and are family-friendly if you want to bring your munchkins along. For such a hearty, homemade breakfast, the prices are low and the quality is high — perfect for a hot date or a hangover! They’re open 6:30am-2pm and if you’re in the area, you NEED to stop by and get yourself some delicious food.

Have you been to the South Troy Diner? If so, let us know your thoughts on this blog or visit our Facebook page and share your thoughts there. We’d love to hear from you!

Colonie Diner

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Today was a sunny, windy, freezing day, perfect for hopping in a car, blasting the heat, and heading down the road to Colonie, NY for the Colonie Diner. Located on the ever-busy Central Ave, Albany, the Colonie Diner has ample parking and looks like your average, run-of-the-mill diner.

We rolled in around 11:30am, though it still felt like 10:30am because of daylight savings time. We were seated in what might be the world’s most comfortable diner booth without having to wait. Seriously, the MOST comfortable booths — so cushy and soft, they looked brand new. It was like a Tempurpedic for just your butt.

As you can see, the interior was designed well and the booths all matched each other. The tables were at the perfect height regardless of how good or terrible your posture is, and even the counter seating looked new and pleasant. We ordered our usual coffee and water, the two ratings we use as our benchmark. One can usually tell what to expect from the food after having tasted the coffee and water.

Here they are, in all their glory, just chillin on the table like two peas in a pod. The “mugs,” if you can call them that, were more like teacups with saucers, and were definitely going to need to be filled more often than if they had been regular mugs. The creamers were nice and cold, which is, sadly, atypical of the majority of diners out there. We looked around to see if there were any waitresses that appeared to be old enough to have worked there since the dawn of time, but no dice. For those of you new to the blog, that’s one of our key points in determining the “diner-ness” of a place, which we’ll get to later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The menu, which was well put together in a logical order, had a wide variety of breakfast options, lunch items, and dinner specials, with a separate page for Senior Dinner Specials. For youngsters, there was an unimaginative kid’s menu, for picky anemic kids who refuse to eat anything except for chicken nuggets or mac and cheese.

I decided to order the Greek yogurt with nuts, honey, and fruit, because I’m trying to eat healthy (thanks for the slow metabolism, God) and a piece of cinnamon toast without butter. As it turns out, our waitress told me that their sad attempt at cinnamon toast was just white toast with butter, cinnamon and sugar on. Totally unacceptable, as I grew up in a household where our cinnamon was SWIRLED in our toast, so I ordered a piece of French Toast instead because how can that be anything other than what it sounds like?

The waitress, who was super nice and seemed to have my best interest in mind, told me that the fruit on top of the yogurt would be canned fruit. Um…no.  Matt ordered a spinach, onion and Swiss omelette with a bagel and homefries. Our coffees were refilled as we waited, and then within 5 minutes my yogurt was brought out. Apparently it was the breakfast version of an appetizer.

The nuts were walnuts and the honey tasted like an average store-bought honey, but it was great nonetheless. Not long after, the manager/owner brought the rest of our meals out, and Matt’s plate looked great. There was just one problem with his…

TOAST instead of a BAGEL?!? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Our waitress put in an order for the bagel, while she brought some Frank’s Red Hot out to Matt for his omelette. They also had a selection of French’s ketchup, the usual Smucker’s jelly organizer, and different colored sugar substitute packets.

I asked the waitress for real syrup for my sad-looking French toast, but they only had Smucker’s “Breakfast Syrup,” which is essentially corn syrup, sugar, and maple flavoring. I tried a little but it was awful and made me so, so sad. I also tried the French toast, but it tasted like a restaurant’s grill version of an Eggo Waffle (TM), as if the bread itself was French Toast flavored and they stuck it in a toaster to warm it up.

Confectioner’s sugar can’t cover your LIES

It was terrible so I didn’t eat it, but I was mostly full from the yogurt parfait. Matt’s omelette was good, so we’re rating the food a 3/5. Nothing spectacular, just average. Service is a 4 out of 5, the waitress seemed to be trying her best to do a good job in spite of sluggish management, and she sounded disappointed in their food quality when we were ordering. When we went to pay, however, there were four different people at the register within 90 seconds – first our waitress, then the manager/owner, than a hostess, then some other guy. It was wholly inefficient, and as two 7-tops had just walked in, people started getting confused and parties were seated in the wrong order. Our coffee was a 3, as it had a gritty aftertaste. The water was a 3 as well, nice and cold but average.

The dinerness of the Colonie Diner is a 4 out of 5. Plenty of chrome accents, desserts in a refrigerated display case, and typical diner fare.

Have you been to the Colonie Diner? Would you recommend it? Comment below or visit us on our Facebook page to catch up with us and see where else we’ve been.

Duanesburg Diner

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This week, we headed south to hit up the Duanesburg Diner, aptly named after the town it’s located in. After a long stretch of highway, this place was easy to find, and the parking lot was spacious.

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Extremely spacious parking lot, a welcome sight for travelers and truckers.IMG_20170226_120054

We walked in and were seated almost immediately, at a booth right next to a window. There were walls covered with photos of patrons over the years, which made the whole place feel very welcoming and family-friendly. It’s a not-so-subtle way of a diner showing their gratitude for their community and friends.

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The waitress gave us our menus, and noted the daily specials on the boards above the counter. The food and beverage was typical of diner fare, for all three meals they serve – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We ordered our usual coffee and water to sip while we perused the menus, which had average prices for a diner, funny clip art, and advertising from local businesses. We place our orders, and while we waited, took a couple photos of the long counter with some of the most unique stools we’ve seen. They were probably just as uncomfortable as the rigid booth we sat in, but that didn’t deter regulars and new patrons from stopping in and enjoying a meal. The booths were roomy and the tables were at the perfect height, which definitely added to the family-friendliness of this diner.

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We tried the water, which tasted ever so slightly like the tap but had a decent flavor otherwise, and give it a 4 out of 5 –no lemon needed! The coffee, a 3 out of 5, left a burnt aftertaste in our mouths, but overall was smooth and dark. The waitress, an attentive ninja, refilled our coffees a couple times without us even noticing. We each ordered an omelette with home fries and wheat toast. It didn’t take too long to get our meals–15 minutes, tops–and we snapped a shot before we dug in.

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I ordered a mushroom, onion and Swiss omelette (top), and Matt got an omelette with peppers, onions, and Swiss. The food was good, nothing excellent but tasty enough for a high 3 out of 5. The service was great! Definitely a 5 out of 5. We didn’t have to ask for anything more than once and got refills on everything very quickly.

The bill at the end was handwritten, and there was a minimum of $10 for credit cards. At the register, which was oddly placed at the end of the two rows of booth, you could buy Duanesburg Diner merch, like hats, mugs, and t-shirts. We thought for a moment about getting a mug or something, but then we’d have to start getting it at every diner we went to, and our weekly reviews would cost us a hell of a lot more. We also noticed that there were candy bars at the register for sale…not for a cause or a fundraiser, just for funsies.

The Duanesburg Diner boasts great family food for average diner prices in a restaurant setting. The dinerness rating for this place is low, a 2 out of 5. There was hardly any chrome to speak of, and I didn’t have to look at myself in thirty million mirrors on walls and ceilings, like I do at other diners. We had a good experience overall, and would recommend this place if you happen to find yourself on a long stretch of highway in western Schenectady County, New York.

Visit the Duanesburg Diner on Facebook or on their website, and let us know in the comments if you’ve been here before. And don’t forget to visit us on our Facebook page. Like the page, comment, or send us pictures of your diner experiences, or of your pets. Or of your pets’ diner experiences. Next week, we’ll be heading to a new diner!

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Uncle John’s Diner

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Where the mouth of the Mohawk joins the Hudson is the small Upstate NY city Cohoes. Tucked away on Ontario Street is Uncle John’s Diner, where cash is the currency and real food is prepared. Sitting down at Uncle John’s, one might be reminded of the 1997 Tracy Byrd hit, “I’m From The Country:”

Ev’rybody knows ev’rybody,
Ev’rybody calls you ‘friend,’
You don’t need an invitation
Kick off your shoes, come on in.

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It was the smallest diner we’ve ever seen. Regular patrons greeted each other, and carried on conversations with each other from one side of the 25-foot-wide room to the other. There were 18 seats total – eight counter stools and five 2-tops. One of the things I noticed immediately, because I am my mother’s daughter, is how clean the ceiling fan was.

img_20170218_105243Uncle John’s does breakfast only, so if you’re looking for lunch, you’re out of luck. We were greeted by a pleasant waitress and not handed menus because, as it turns out, the menu was on chalkboard signs on the walls and above the counter.

The menu was pretty basic, you could get any combination of eggs, American cheese, img_20170218_112705rye/wheat/white toast, bacon, ham, sausage, peppers, onions, or home fried potatoes. Our disappointment at the surprisingly small menu faded when we realized that all of the food at Uncle John’s Diner is served fresh. We saw bags of potatoes behind the counter, plus freshly-diced peppers and onions, and stacks of fresh eggs. They’re a cash-only establishment, so stop at the ATM on your way there, fellow card-only-bringers.

As always, we started out with coffee and water. The coffee was freshly brewed, though watery and bland. We were given a cold Byrne Dairy half and half for creamer, and this is likely the only time I’ve had a fresh creamer at a diner. So coffee is a 3 out of 5, but the creamer (which we’ve never bothered to rate before) was a 5!

The water was perfect, a 5 out of 5–and I knew this before even sipping it.

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That’s right y’all, a cold Poland Spring!

We ordered omelettes with peppers and onions, while our buddy Tim got a couple eggs over medium, with bacon, toast, and home fried potatoes. The two waitresses made sure we had coffee refills as often as we wanted, and the chef running the show in the back made our food in about 15 minutes.

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The food overall was really good (a 4 out of 5), and we appreciated that everything was cooked fresh and was real. No egg substitute used here! Definitely some of the best potatoes we’ve had in a long time. There aren’t many choices at Uncle John’s Diner, but what they do have, they make well. The atmosphere was nice, and the temperature was comfortable, although the seats were super uncomfortable. Service was prompt, we give it a 4 out of 5. As for the dinerness of the place, it’s a 4 out of 5. There was enough chrome to line a truck bed, and regulars who all knew each other.

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Just don’t look up, you’ll think you’re in a dentist’s office for a hot second.

edithrs_img_20170218_112831Uncle John’s Diner is a big fan of the city of Cohoes, with historical photos on the walls and history books about the city propped up against the wall behind the counter. It’s a great stop if you’re in Cohoes before noon on a weekend and want to catch a quick meal. It wasn’t crowded when we stopped in, and we had a good meal at a very low price.

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If you have been to Uncle John’s Diner or plan to go there, what’s your take? You can comment below or share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

 

Kerrie’s Northway Diner

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Like Lil’ Kim, we been gone for a minute now we’re back with the jump off.

This weekend, we hit up 87 North and ended up on the main drag in Queensbury, NY, about an hour north of Albany. Located on bustling Main Street, Kerrie’s Northway Diner is an unassuming place that has more character and space inside than you’d think.

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The unconventional counters looked like repurposed hibachi grills. Come to think of it, we haven’t been out for hibachi or sushi in a while. Maybe that’s what we’ll have tonight.

It was a “seat yourself” situation, so we nabbed a booth by the window, and had some time to take in the ambiance while we waited for our coffees and waters. Half of the interior is all wood everything, which made me feel like we were in a cabin by a lake instead of a diner, and the other half looks like a 1950s diner with black and white checkered floor tiles and pink walls. The booths were rigid like a church pew but more comfortable (no Bibles and my mom wasn’t there telling me to sit up straight), and the Formica tables were at a comfortable height for dining, with plenty of leg room. There was a fridge next to the entrance, which we initially thought was just for decor but was actually functional. The place wasn’t super packed, and a lot of the regulars there were older gentlemen who spoke to each other about their blood sugar levels and who the best heart doctors are in the area.

On the walls of Northway Diner were scattered framed photos, some of family members and some of Marilyn Monroe. Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons played on a radio in the background, and we watched a lumberjack competition on the small TV in the corner for a few minutes while deciding what we wanted for brunch.

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The breakfast part of the menu.

We got our coffee, which was smooth and full bodied, and which we rate a 4 out of 5. The water was alright, not the best we’ve ever had, so we rated it a 3. Maybe it was the water, maybe the cups, but it had a sink taste that always knocks off a rating point or two for us.

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I ordered a broccoli, sausage and Swiss cheese omelette with wheat toast, while Matt ordered a jalapeno, cheddar cheese and sausage omelette with a bagel. Buffalo chicken soup was a special of the day, so Matt decided to give it a shot.

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Buffalo chicken soup with the only oyster cracker brand worth eating.

The soup was not that great, as the texture and taste suggested it came from a giant plastic bag–definitely not homemade. It’s a good lesson to learn – always ask your server if the soup is homemade or heated up in a bag. It will save you heartache and pouting.

The rest of our food came out; the homefries were hearty and a cooked on the grill, which was a welcome reprieve from some of the diners we’ve visited that fry the hell out of tiny potato pieces and drown it in salt. The toast was tasty and the bagel was good, it tasted like it had been toasted on a grill, which in this case in not a bad thing. The omelettes were good but could have been fluffier.

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Yep yep yep indeed.

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Overall, we rate the food a 3.5, as it’s a little better than average and pretty filling. The service at this family-owned diner is a 5, as the waitress was friendly and constantly checking to make sure we had everything we needed.

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Kerrie’s Northway Diner is a great place to stop if you’re looking for a local mom-and-pop with good food, friendly service and a small town atmosphere. You get filling food at a good price and it’s not a bad way to spend a weekend morning.

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Miss Monroe on the left and a wary patron on the right.

 

 

Glenville Queen

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A beautiful Sunday morning took us down the road to the Glenville Queen today. Technically, it’s not a diner, but there were some time constraints we were worried about today, so we’re counting it. As you can see from the photo, it looks like a diner but is considered a Family Restaurant. As you can also see from the photo, I’m terrible at the panoramic photo taking, since there’s a car that looks like it got stuck in a time warp on the right.

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We thought the wait would be long when we walked in, but it turns out the party in front of us was nine people deep, so our table for two was seated immediately. The booths themselves would have been much more comfortable, if it weren’t for the awkwardly-placed iron bars beneath the tables. The bars were meant to prop them up but if you have legs longer than a child’s, you’re going to have a bad time. I somehow managed not to bang my knee on it the entire time I was there, which is a personal achievement because I managed to wreck my knees on everything else. We noted that the decor at Glenville Queen (hereafter referred to as GQ) seemed to be taken from an episode of “The Golden Girls“… I call it Bea Arthur chic. Lots of pastels and flowery patterns, with a dusty rose color that popped up throughout the place in the booth seats, tables, walls and curtains. The ceiling had faux wood beams that looked like a cheap material had been used to cover some aesthetically displeasing steel beams.

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So we perused the breakfast menu as George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” played softly in the background (ohhh, that sexy sax). GQ’s breakfast selections were nothing fancy or out of the ordinary. You have the typical breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, omelettes and sides. What you don’t have at GQ are specialty coffees or espresso, so you’re stuck with plain ol’ coffee. Which, when you’re overtired, is totally fine, but not if you have a hankerin’ for some caramel latte action. We ordered coffee and water while we came to a decision on what to have for breakfast.

IMG_3458The coffees were good, with a light mouth feel, bold taste, and no burnt flavor. We’re rating the coffee a 4 out of 5. Imagine if they had lattes? Good lord. Our water, on the other hand, was a low 3 out of 5. There were some extra mineral-type flavors going on, and not in the “I feel healthier after drinking this” kind of way, but the “I hope that machine was cleaned recently” kind of way. Even the lemon in my water could not save it from the odd taste.

After asking our waitress the hard-hitting questions (“What kind of fruit is in the fruit cup?” “Do you have cappuccino?” “Does this tshirt make me look schlubby?”), we ordered our breakfasts. I chose the Belgian waffle with strawberries, banana and whipped cream with a side of bacon; Matt ordered the “He-Man Breakfast,” which was French Toast, bacon, sausage, ham and “country fresh eggs” anyway you like them. He substituted more sausage for the ham, because ham sucks unless it’s a holiday. While we waited, we looked around and noted that many of the patrons were in their Sunday best and were probably regulars. My Sunday best is a tshirt and jeans with slip-on Merrells, because tying shoes is exclusively a weekday-only activity in my world. There were quite a few young families with polite children sitting at tables around us, and some older couples scattered around as well. The wait staff were hustling and working their butts off to keep their patrons happy, and everyone seemed to be enjoying their food.

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Once our food came out, we snapped a few photos and made some quick judgments. It looked like it would taste average.

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Being pretty hungry (we showed up that way, we didn’t have to wait long for the food), we dug in and evaluated the taste. My Belgian waffle tasted off, like it had too much salt in the batter, and the strawberries were a sad dark color like they had been in the sugary syrup for far too long. There wasn’t enough whipped cream to make me giddy, and the bananas–the best part of the meal–were too ripe. I thought the bacon might be good, but it was a little rubbery and far too salty to enjoy, so I skipped that part. Matt’s “country fresh eggs” tasted like they might have never been eggs at any part of their journey. They were tasteless; even salt and pepper couldn’t save them. The French Toast was a little dry, not super flavorful and came with whipped butter and “breakfast syrup” on the side. The sausage links were decent.

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A line on the placemat says “why cook at home?” I can think of a few really good reasons.

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20150329_110203Although our breakfasts were a little disappointing, we saw that the desserts are baked on premises by their own baker, and the dessert case looked promising, so Matt decided to give one a try. It was a toss-up between Oreo cheesecake and the coconut cream pie, but he went with the cheesecake after our waitress made that recommendation. The description on the menu sounded fabulous: “We start with our fresh creamy smooth Cheesecake, then gently fold in Oreo Cookies and top it all with Chocolate Fudge Sauce.” And here’s what it looks like:20150329_105310

 

It looks amazing, you guys. But it wasn’t all that great. Matt’s review of the Oreo cheesecake was, “If I was this cheesecake’s father, I would tell it how disappointed in it I am… And then I would be swiftly arrested for eating my child.”

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So we rated the food, overall, a low 3. The service, however, was great, and we’re rating it a 5. Our waitress was fast, polite and helpful with answering our mundane questions.

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Side note, the children’s menu is terrifying. Why does that girl have teeth on the side of her mouth?

There are a lot of great places to go in Upstate New York if you’re looking for a great diner or family restaurant, but we wouldn’t recommend Glenville Queen as one of them. It’s a bit unfair to rate the dinerness, since it’s not actually a diner, but if we had to rate it, it would be a 1. There isn’t much in the way of chrome or mirrors, and there aren’t any checkerboard patterns anywhere, but there is definitely a vintage feel to the place and a few of the wait staff look like they’ve been there for years.

Have you been to the Queen? What did you think? Share your thoughts by commenting on the post below, or follow us on Facebook. Where should we go next?

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Alexi’s Diner

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This past weekend, we found ourselves in East Greenbush, a town named after the mayor’s favorite color and the shrubbery commonly found in the area. (Okay, that part is made up. But we did end up there.) We ignored the giant Cracker Barrel sign by the highway and made our way to Alexi’s Diner, which is on the way to Troy. Alexi’s is on a lovely road and the diner itself is surrounded by trees, with a nice walkway to the entrance. It’s the type of place that looks nice year-round because of impeccable landscaping and excellent location.

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We only had to wait two minutes before the hostess led us to a booth with a window. The booths would have been comfortable, since the backs were nice and high, if not for the oddly-placed button cover smack in the middle of the back.

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Seriously, why?

Our waitress took more than a couple minutes to come to our table; when she did, I asked if they had any coffee flavors, because I was really craving a caramel latte. She informed me that there are no flavors, so I went with a cappuccino. Matt ordered a coffee and a water. The water was a 3, it tasted like the pipe it was pumped through, in that it had a metallic aftertaste. The coffee was a 4–smooth, well-bodied and delicious. The cappuccino was a 5. Despite the lack of flavor syrups at Alexi’s Diner, they know how to make a fabulous cappuccino, with a light dusting of ground cinnamon on top. It was a happy surprise on a chilly, windy day.

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After hearing that the soup of the day was cream of broccoli, we both ordered one. It came out quickly, piping hot:

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I don’t know if I can be trusted to review it, because I’ve been trying to eat less sodium and it tasted way too salty. But Matt said it was great and totally enjoyed his bowl of soup. I could only eat about half of mine… perhaps the reduced sodium intake has made my taste buds more sensitive. There was a lot of actual broccoli in the soup and it didn’t look like it had come from a can, which is a huge win over other soups at other diners we’ve had.20150321_113737

The menus featured traditional diner items, like specialty omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, clubs, melts, appetizers, salads and more. They even have a pizza omelette, which you need to try and tell me how it is because I want to avoid eating all that delicious sodium, and just live vicariously through you. I went with the Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream, because my gluten free lifestyle fell by the wayside last summer with all the wedding cake I had, and Matt ordered a burger with fries. We didn’t have to wait too long after finishing our soups to get our meals. The waffle came out with that typical “breakfast syrup” abomination on the side, but I was too engrossed in the strawberries to care. The waffle was typical restaurant waffle quality–obviously not homemade, but I’ll take it, it’s still delicious and filling.

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The french fries were a light golden brown, as you can see, and were delicious, with a soft inside. The burger was cooked to order, and tasted like it had actually been on a grill. The burger toppings were fresh and good as well. We neglected to taste the pickle or the cole slaw, because nobody has time for that, but it looked like it was probably just as tasty as the burger itself. This was definitely one of the better diner burgers we’ve encountered, if not the best so far.

20150321_124101The service overall was a 4, slightly above average. Our waters were filled pretty consistently, and we didn’t have to wait long for anything. The food all came out quickly and our inability to decide on what we wanted at the beginning of our visit didn’t deter our waitress from checking on us until we had made up our minds.

We were both too full to get dessert, but here’s a look at the dessert case. Not a huge selection, compared to some of the other places we’ve visited, but they looked good enough to eat. They’re all baked on premise, so I think we need to go back sometime and try out their baked goodies.

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Dinerness of Alexi’s Diner is a 4. (If you’re just joining us, check out the About page for an explanation of “dinerness.”) Chrome and mirrors are ubiquitous, the exterior is modeled in part after a dining car, some of the waitresses look like they’ve been there for a long time, and there is plenty of seating available at the counter. Many of the patrons seemed like they frequented the place, and it drew a lot of young families and couples on Saturday morning.

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Overall, a nice place to go on a leisurely weekend morning or afternoon. Alexi’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a great selection of food and drink. If you go, let us know what you think! And don’t forget to Like us on facebook or comment on this post directly below. We’re always interested in your suggestions, ideas and reviews.

Oh, and this is our 20th post! We hope you continue to join us on our journey as we explore the diners of Upstate New York and beyond. plentyofcolour_confetti5

Route 7 Diner

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In 2011, the actress Eva Mendes played a waitress in Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines,” a really good film that you should see if you haven’t yet. To get into the role, Mendes spent time working as a waitress at the Route 7 Diner on Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham, NY. This past Sunday, we spent time as patrons at the same place.

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We walked in and immediately noticed the decor of the place — very classic American diner decor, but with a strange mix of wood paneling and stained glass lamps reminiscent of my grandma’s den.

IMG_3422 The booth we sat in was comfy, and the place wasn’t very busy, though it was around 6pm when we went there last Sunday. We perused the menu, which was full of classic diner options like burgers, clubs, melts, appetizers and soups. Their specials were listed on a dry erase board by the door.

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The placemat was covered in ads, which you don’t see as much anymore at diners, based on our experiences over the past few months. The silverwear was mix ‘n’ match, like it had been salvaged from different estate sales over the years…which is entirely possible. The place had an elderly vibe, and a little of a musty smell, but we didn’t let that deter us.

At one end of the room we were in was a giant wall of mirrors that perhaps was better suited for a dance studio. It took a lot for me to sit in the booth and not do the “maniac” dance from the movie “Flashdance.”

Our waitress was very nice, though a bit 20150315_181450forgetful we came to find out. Matt ordered a coffee and milkshake, but asked for the milkshake to be brought out with his meal. It came too early and melted all over the place, but it still tasted good. I ordered a water with lemon. The water was decent, we’d say a 3, but the coffee wasn’t great, it was a 2. I ordered a turkey club, which is rapidly becoming a favorite item on diner menus, and Matt got a grilled cheese with fries.20150315_180343

The food was, overall, pretty good – we’re rating it a 3. The turkey on the club sandwich was legit turkey, and the fries were golden and crispy with a slight softness on the inside. The grilled cheese was also cooked well and tasted like good old home cookin. I had asked for some extra mayo and more water when the food came, and it took us asking the waitress twice more for her to remember, but it was eventually brought out. We’re rating the service a low 3 for forgetfulness especially since it wasn’t that busy.

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20150315_182702After our meal, we gave into the temptation of ordering dessert. I got the chocolate cream pie, and Matt ordered the coconut cream pie. After having desserts at Ambrosia Diner, we weren’t sure if having high expectations was a good idea, but the desserts at Route 7 Diner are pretty good. They’re not baked on premise, and they’re not quite labelled accurately, but they taste good. My chocolate cream pie was more of a chocolate mousse pie with chocolate cookie crust, which I wasn’t a fan of, but I ate most of it anyway. Matt’s coconut cream pie was light and fluffy but definitely couldn’t compare to Ambrosia’s.

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And for good measure, here’s a photo of the dessert case:

20150315_184554Route 7 Diner and Restaurant gets a high dinerness rating for its use of mirrors and chrome decoration throughout the place, plus the amount of nostalgia you feel when you walk in — if it doesn’t remind you of your grandma’s house, then it definitely makes you think of some old-timey place you went as a kid. There was a plethora of counter seating, matching tables and booths, and a full bar next to the register, like we’ve seen in many other places. Overall, it was a nice, quiet place to spend an hour on a Sunday evening.

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Noon Mark Diner

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IMG_3372In the hamlet of Keene Valley, NY is the celebrated and revered Noon Mark Diner, named after the old Noonmark Farm that operated in the area until the 1940s. The diner is a hotspot for hikers, tourists, fishermen and mountain climbers.

In addition to homemade pies, breads, muffins, donuts and more, the Noon Mark boasts the most beautiful view of any diner we’ve happened upon thus far. See Figure 3.2 

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Figure 3.2 – The view from Noon Mark Diner.

20150308_103048We walked in and there was no wait to sit down. Our waitress sat us in a dark corner at a table marked #13, and asked us what we wanted to drink. We went for the classic coffee and a water, and while we waited, noted that the booths weren’t super comfortable but we had lots of privacy in our nook, which was nice. We perused the menu and discovered the vast array of gluten free options, which was very different from the majority of diners we’ve been to. Noon Mark has gluten free pancakes and waffles, plus some other selections as well.

The coffee was not that great, we rated it a 2 out of 5 since it tasted watery and needed more than a little sugar and cream to be palatable. The water, however, was the most perfect water we’ve ever had at a diner, and we’re rating it a 5. It was glacial and pure.

We both started with a homemade muffin; I ordered blueberry and Matt got the corn maple. They were dense and sweet, definitely delicious but hard to finish because they were so filling. I opted to only eat half because I was happily awaiting my mushroom and cheese omelet, while Matt ordered the breakfast wrap (sausage, egg and cheddar) with an English muffin and corned beef hash. Matt asked for his muffin to be grilled and buttered; the waitress brought it out grilled but without butter. It did come with some homemade strawberry jelly on the side, though, which was spectacular.

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After the Muffin Course, our breakfast arrived and, to our dismay, was not as good as the baked goods. The toast was stellar, being made on-site, but the mushrooms in my omelet tasted funky and old (and not in a good way, like this guy), and the sausage was extremely salty. Matt’s breakfast wrap and hash tasted like fast food, though the homemade English muffin was delicious. It lacked the nooks and crannies of Thomas’ English muffins, but probably because the baking process was different. It seems that the Noon Mark Diner would have been better advertised and set up as a bakery with a diner inside, rather than the opposite. Noon Mark is, after all, famous for its homemade pies, which you can order ahead of time or pick one up on your way out, as some patrons did when we were there.

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The service was a 3 out of 5–the waitress was friendly and helpful, but could have been more attentive. The dinerness of the place is a 2 out of 5; there is no chrome, no mirrors, no desserts in a display case…unless you count this:

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I don’t count this. You probably shouldn’t either.

 

 

That being said, if we were to go back to the Noon Mark, we’d get only homemade bread and desserts and call it a day. The pies sounded great and the availability of gluten free options and beautiful view make Noon Mark a standout among diners. If you’ve been to the Noon Mark, or have suggestions of where we should go next, leave a comment below. Or, you can always visit us on our facebook page. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of our photos from our journey through Keene, NY!

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Circle Diner

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IMG_3340The Circle Diner in Latham is a place you might drive by a lot, especially if you’re not sure which exit to take out of the roundabout.
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We visited the Circle Diner this past Sunday, a place that is absolutely stunning when you walk in. The exterior is shiny and modern, and the ceiling of the walk-in area looks like it was designed by the scenic artist from Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby. The black and white checker floor complements the clean, straight booths and the classy mirrors throughout the place. Chrome is ubiquitous at the Circle Diner.

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FullSizeRender (13)We were seated immediately in a booth toward the center of the diner, and perused the menu for a few moments. The pricing was ever so slightly higher than average, though the variety of options was higher than average too. The booths were comfortable and the music was hard to hear, though it sounded like the easy listening station.

We were pretty hungry, so I started with a blueberry muffin and Matt ordered the Texas chili appetizer. I’ve been craving a fabulous blueberry muffin for about a week, so this was the muffin to satiate my craving.

 

Or so I thought.

IMG_3337I asked for it to be grilled and buttered, and even the butter couldn’t cover the dryness. It crumbled into millions of tiny dry pieces while I lamented what could have been blueberry-filled happiness, had it been made in this century.

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The Texas chili, on the other hand, was delicious, but it was huge and perhaps should have been listed as a meal instead of a starter.

For my meal, I ordered the French Toast with real maple syrup, and Matt ordered a turkey club. Many diners we’ve been to actually charge more for real maple syrup, but the Circle Diner’s prices were already a little high for what you get, so the real maple syrup was a gimme. 20150301_125140The turkey on the turkey club was mushy and sliced so thinly, we couldn’t tell if it was turkey or Oscar Meyer bologna. The french fries that came with the club were light golden yellow and bland, instead of the desired golden brown with a crunch. The French toast tasted alright, except for the piece that tasted like someone had spilled onion powder on it. It didn’t come with anything either, which affected the presentation. Getting handed two pieces of deflated-looking French toast after a disappointing muffin was a letdown.

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The water was a 3 out of 5; it had an aftertaste like there was added fluoride. We each ordered a coffee as well, which was also a 3, as it was bland and watery rather than smooth and bold. The service after being seated started out okay, and then went downhill. The waitress came back to our table maybe twice throughout the meal, asking Matt if he wanted more water and coffee, but completely ignored my empty mug. We’re rating the service a 2 out of 5 because it could have been so much better.

Food was a 3–it would have been lower, but the chili was fabulous. After eating half my French toast, I thought about getting a dessert to make myself feel better, but when I went up to look at the desserts in the display case, I was disappointed again. They looked like they’d been in the case for a couple weeks or more, so I passed on the dessert.

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When we went up to the counter to pay the bill, Matt was staring at a neon sign on the wall, and the hostess asked him if he liked the sign that much. He was tempted to say “it’s the best thing in here,” but he just nodded and smiled. We paid and left.

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The dinerness rating was the highest rating we could give to the Circle Diner. We’re giving it a 4 out of 5 for the amount of chrome, mirrors, counter seating, and old diner-style decor. IMG_3341