Gateway Diner

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Central Ave in Albany, NY is a long stretch of fast food places, car dealerships, gas stations, furniture stores and anger-inducing traffic lights. It’s also home to the Gateway Diner.

This mass of concrete and steel attracts those seeking a cheap and easy meal within a ten-mile radius of Central Ave. Though there are countless other options within the vicinity, regulars visit the Greek-themed Gateway Diner for their weekly fix of gyros, omelettes, home fried potatoes and sandwiches.

We arrived at the diner at noon on a Sunday a few weeks ago, and though it was incredibly busy, there was plenty of seating so we didn’t have to wait more than a couple minutes for them to clear off a table. The booths were relatively comfortable, and the blinds helped block out some of the sun pouring in from the giant windows. The decor was extremely matchy-matchy, melding a retro chic look with the stereotypical Greek theme of repeated patterns and blue/white color schemes.

Immediately after sitting down, we were given water and menus, both of which have probably seen better days. Parts of the menu were completely illegible — old, scuffed, and mildewy — so I had to refer to Matt’s copy (which wasn’t much better) to see what else I might have missed. Not a good first impression, Gateway. There was also a whole page labeled “Senior Citizens Dinner,” which I assume was their target demographic. We had a sip of the water, which tasted like it had sat in an old steel bucket in the sun for a few days, and therefor rate it a 2 out of 5.

After placing our orders for coffees and breakfast, we checked out the condiments on our table. Next to the sun-warmed butter (that should have been refrigerated) was a pile of table syrup and Smucker’s jams. I don’t know how Smucker’s does it, but their jam packets are consistently tasty no matter what. If the apocalypse ever happens, I will seek these little packets out for the sweet heavenly sustenance that they are.

The “table syrup” can go f— itself though, anything that didn’t come from a tree and get boiled down is bullshit and doesn’t belong on a table. It belongs in the garbage. Just like turkey bacon.

Anyway, we got our coffees which looked like tea and tasted like coffee-flavored water. Thank goodness Dunkin’ Donuts was right down the road because I get in a MOOD without caffeine.

Needless to say, the coffee was a 2 out of 5 because it made us as sad as it looked. Our waitress didn’t bring any creamer out with the coffee either, though when she did it didn’t really make a difference in the flavor.

It took 13 minutes to get our food, which was pretty fast given how busy it was when we got there. We both ordered omelettes with home fried potatoes and toast. It looked ok when we got it, though only ONE of Matt’s toast triangles was burnt, which led us to wonder where it came from and how that possibly happened. How does one piece of toast come out burned while the other three are fine? Is the rest of the burnt toast on someone else’s plate? Did this toast come off of someone else’s plate? What is happening here?!

The home fried potatoes were a mix of undercooked and burnt to hell, which is impossible for food that’s cooked all at the same time on a giant grill, so either the grill was broken or the line cooks were. The eggs (or egg product?) in our omelettes were flavorless and the toast was cold. We rated the food a 2 because it was food and mostly edible but it tasted sad. Normally we check out the dessert cases to see if anything is worth getting, but after the food we had and the sad state of affairs in the dessert cases, we passed on that.

The service at Gateway Diner was the best part – our waitress was polite and checked on us a couple times throughout the meal, so we’re rating service a 4. The cost of the food was lower than other diners, we only paid about $20 for our meal, but it also was one of the lower-quality diner experiences we’ve had, so that makes sense.

Gateway Diner offers catering, so if you’re in need of a catering company, we have plenty of other places to recommend.

Have you been to Gateway? Do you have a suggestion about where we should go next? Check us out on our Facebook page and comment, leave us a suggestion, or tell us about your experiences at diners in the region. Happy Summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pearl Street Diner

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Ah, Albany. The center of the ol’ 518. It plays host to a myriad of entertainment venues, nightlife for all ages, niche restaurants, and the Pearl Street Diner.

Looking like a modern Edward Hopper painting, the Pearl Street Diner has large, neon-green-lighted windows abutting the wind tunnel that is downtown Albany. We walked through the entrance, shared with other businesses in the same building, and had a look at the sandwich board full of specials.

The menus were not much more detailed, with a small selection of typical diner fare that included sandwiches, salads, breakfast fare and soft drinks. There were only two other tables of patrons–it was noon on Sunday in downtown Albany, which was not encouraging. We sat down at a booth against the windows, which became a form of entertainment when we got to watch everyone walking down the street Mortal Kombat-ing with the wind.

While we reviewed the menus, we ordered a coffee and water as per usual, and I decided to get an omelette. Matt wanted a turkey club and a good experience, so he ordered the former hoping for the latter. Our waitress, who was nice, assured us that the sandwich meats were roasted in-house, which got us excited for the quality of the rest of the meal. The waitress took our orders and we tasted the coffee and water. The coffee tasted old, dirty and overly rich–basically the Hugh Hefner of coffee. We rated it a 1 out of 5. The perfectly average municipal water was a 3.

We got our meals about ten minutes after ordering, and they looked really good. The waitress was prompt in bringing us additional napkins and an extra plate for ketchup. Having not had much of anything to eat earlier in the day, we dug in. I had the wheat toast, which was your average run-of-the-mill bread from the grocery store, and Matt tasted the fries, which reminded him of McDonald’s fries without all the extra grease. Next I had my Swiss, onion and pepper omelette, which was super cheesy and pretty delicious. The home fries tasted old and sad, and salty, so I didn’t eat most of them. The turkey club was barely average, but the pickle was on point. Overall, we rated the food a 3, as parts of the meals were good but in the entirety were just average.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got a handwritten check (check it out!) and the cost of our food was average for two people ordering breakfast at noon on a Sunday. The service was slightly above average, rated a 4.

Even though it’s in a weird building, which affects its dinerness score, the Pearl Street Diner has a black and white checkerboard floor, chrome chairs, a retro aesthetic and framed photos on the walls that shoutout the area’s history. The dinerness rating is a 2 since some of the decor is what it should be, but the rest of dinerness qualifying factors — old train car, ancient wait staff, jukebox or old timey music, extensive chrome and mirrors — were severely lacking. There were only 4 stool-chairs at the “lunch counter” and the diner looks like it could very well have been a pizza place in its past life. The kitchen is open enough that you can watch your food being prepared if you’re into that sort of thing. Which, I hope for the sake of the staff, you’re not.

The best part of the experience, believe it or not, was the parking! We scored a sweet spot right outside the diner, which was entirely baffling since parking in Albany is usually a nightmare.

Overall, a less-than-satisfactory experience with our diner adventure this weekend. But it’s all a part of our journey to visit diners all around us.

 

 

Mac’s Diner

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We spent about ten minutes Googling diners near us today, and we need you guys to recommend some places because we’ve been to so many of the top results already.  In any case, we found Mac’s Diner in Schuylerville, plugged it into the GPS, and hit the road around 10:30am. It only took us a half hour to get there, but it felt like days because I was desperately in need of some coffee and food.

We got to Broad Street in Schuylerville (east of Saratoga, if you’re like me and don’t know geography), and parked in front of the neighboring business, Badger’s Cigar Den. We walked into Mac’s Diner and were greeted with a “sit anywhere you like,” so we chose a booth by the window. One of the people working there handed us menus and took our drink orders. So we perused the menus… and as it turns out,  I can do one of the following things at Mac’s Diner on a Sunday:
a. order a turkey sandwich
b. sell my grandmother’s ring
c. get an omelette at noon

Hint:

To make matters worse, here are some shots of the menu. Good luck deciphering what the hell is going on here:

Perhaps the most cringe-worthy grammar I’ve seen on a menu to date.

The list of daily specials was pretty typical of a diner, handwritten on a white board too small for most of the restaurant to see, with a friendly reiteration of their “no lunch on Sundays” rule:

We received our coffees and water, and checked out the wildly varied decor.

One wall was brick, one had some elderly wallpaper, and another wall had a dark seafoam green paint. It looked like the three little pigs came in and each chose a wall to decorate. There were various paintings haphazardly hung on the left hand wall, a mix of cherubic children and bored Renaissance-era women, plus landscapes and creepy-looking buildings. On the back wall above the kitchen was a whole slew of vintage license plates, which are usually used as decor in antique stores or Applebee’s. There were snarky signs throughout the place and military memorabilia.

We didn’t have to wait more than ten minutes for our food, which wasn’t surprising because there were six people working and maybe five tables occupied by local patrons. I went with the Eggs Benedict Special, which came with home fries and optional onions, and I was assured that there was no salt on the potatoes.

Matt ordered French toast, scrambled eggs, sausage patties and a side of corned beef hash.

Being quite hungry, I tasted the potatoes, which were disgustingly salty. The onions were a browned mess on top of them, and I’m guessing the conversation about these particular onions went as such:
Person 1: Dude, do you think we should get rid of this French Onion Soup? It’s been in the fridge for a month.
Person 2: Yeah, man, throw it away. Oooh, but first, dig out the onions. We’ll put ’em on the homefries.

The eggs in my Benedict were over-poached, but somehow were the most edible part of my meal. The rest was a salty mess. I ate the eggs and that was about it. Matt’s French toast had no flavor, and the scrambled eggs somehow didn’t taste like eggs. The corned beef hash was a dead ringer for canned Hormel, and the sausage patties were below average. The coffee, which we rate a 3 out of 5, was watery and didn’t leave a good taste in our mouths. With a strong taste of old pipes, the water was a 2. The ketchup, which was in a Heinz bottle, tasted vinegary and not like Heinz at all. There was nothing in the condiment selection that would have made any of our food better.

Overall, the food was a 1, because it was what some might call “edible.” The seating was average in comfort, booths were spacious enough and the tables were at a good height.  Mac’s wasn’t particularly busy, and so half the staff spent a lot of time starting out the windows or scanning the dining area. Service is rated a 3 because the waitress was nice but didn’t seem all that interested in what she was doing or the conversations we had with her.

The dinerness rating, which is typically based on the appearance, atmosphere, and waitstaff, is a 2 for Mac’s Diner. They have “diner” in the name, but there was no chrome in the dining area, no black and white tiled floor, no mirrors (except perhaps existential ones), and no waitresses that have been there since the dawn of time.

Open daily from 7am-2pm except on Sundays when they’re open 7am-1pm but serving only breakfast and only serving omelettes until 11:30am but not open on Wednesdays, Mac’s Diner is what the auto industry would call a “total loss.” Prices are average, food is below average, and there is a $10 minimum for credit cards. Cleanliness is average, and they portray themselves as family-friendly but only have one menu item for children. We wouldn’t go back there and don’t recommend it.

“Mac’s Diner, by any other name, would still disappoint as much.”

Shakespeare

Route 50 Diner

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Seven months ago, the world at large was changing dramatically. Mother Theresa was canonized by the Pope. Clinton and Trump were preparing for their first presidential debate. Scientists declared that there were four species of giraffes, not just one. The earliest known fish hooks were discovered on Okinawa Island, Japan.

And the Route 50 Diner in Ballston Spa opened its doors for the first time.

At the plaza on Doubleday Ave, the Route 50 Diner pays homage to America’s military heroes while serving homemade food in a friendly atmosphere.

We were seated immediately at a booth that was entirely average comfort-wise, then ordered our traditional coffee and water while exploring the menu. The Route 50 Diner serve breakfast and lunch, and we had plenty of options to choose from.

Overtired from a long adventure the previous day and fearing a defrosted soup and salty meat letdown, we grilled the waitress about the menu. Though the breakfast menu was somewhat limited, we perked up when she proudly told us that all sandwich meat is roasted in-house, the soups are homemade, the potatoes are hand-cut in the kitchen, and real eggs are used in the omelettes.

The soups of the day were Veggie or Chicken Florentine, so Matt ordered a bowl of the Florentine, plus a turkey club. I was feeling breakfast-y, so I went with a mushroom Swiss omelette with plain home fries and toast.

While our waitress delivered our order, we tasted the coffee from the fresh pot that had just been made. It was strong, good coffee, with no acidic or burned aftertaste. With nothing added to it, it was a 4 out of 5. The water had a tap-like taste, but was cold and drinkable – we rate it a 3.

While we waited for our food, we took in the atmosphere of the place. Couples, friends, and young families were there for lunch, and it was a very pleasant atmosphere. The military theme, thanking local heroes, resonated throughout the interior and exterior, with the “Wall of Heroes” above the kitchen entrance, and the three large banners on the exterior of the building.

Everything was very clean and well-maintained, which added to the relaxing atmosphere of the place. At the kitchen counter were three stools for patrons to sit at, though it looks like this diner might have previously been a pizza place, since it’s set up more like a restaurant than a diner.

Matt’s soup arrived, and it looked and smelled delicious.

The chicken in the soup was amazing, definitely not in those weird chunks like you get in canned or frozen soup, but shredded, like it was put in there by hand. The veggies were perfectly cooked, the broth was slightly creamy, and all the flavors blended together into what might be the best soup we’ve tasted out of all the diners we’ve visited in the past three years.

YUM, you guys.

 

 

When our food arrived, we dove right in.

Matt had a french fry first, and proclaimed, “This is stupid good.” They were fried perfectly, with lots of crunch on the outside and potato-y goodness on the inside. The Turkey Club was also incredible, “one of the best clubs I’ve ever had,” said Matt. It was flavorful and moist, with delicious bread and perfectly cooked bacon. The only thing lacking was that the bread could have been toasted better.

My omelette was amazing, as it had sauteed mushrooms, which is something I have not yet seen at any diner before. Most diners plop your mushrooms right from a can into your omelette, but not this Ballston Spa haven of deliciousness. The Swiss cheese was lovely, the grilled potatoes were the best I’ve had, and the toast was perfectly cooked. It had a little too much butter, but I can’t complain about that. Everything was outstanding. Needless to say, the food at the Route 50 Diner is a 5. Hands down.

The only thing that we were surprised about was the lack of desserts–typically, in this sort of place, you’d expect some homemade Chocolate Cream Pie or Banana Cream Pie or Napoleons or cakes, and all they had was store bought apple pie and pudding. Hopefully they get some homemade desserts in there soon, to really round out the experience.

Our lovely waitress – attentive, funny, and personable – leads us to give the service a 5 as well. We were taken care of from the moment we set foot in the diner until we left, and the waitress told us she hoped to see us again soon. The prices are average and affordable for a diner, and it’s an excellent place to go with friends and family.

The dinerness of the Route 50 Diner is a 1, as there was no chrome, it didn’t look like an old box car diner, the floor wasn’t in a checkered tile pattern, and I saw no mirrors. It’s still set up like a restaurant, but the atmosphere says diner, and we got a handwritten check at the end. 

Go to the Route 50 Diner next time you find yourself in the Ballston Spa area of upstate New York, and prepare for a great dining experience.

Chuck Wagon Diner

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Today we traveled along the Western Turnpike to the land of horses and fields that go on forever. When Spotify started cutting out, we knew we were getting close to the Chuck Wagon Diner. We chose this place for its fabulous name and location — Duanesburg is a lovely country town with rolling hills and plenty of farms.

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From the outside, it 100% looks like a true, old fashioned American diner should. We stepped inside and were happy to see that the decor honored the style of an old diner. There was a jukebox in the corner, a long counter with smaller jukeboxes on it, chrome accents on the ceiling and above the counter, and an extended dining room in the back. We got there around 11:30am, which seems to be the norm for our lazy Sundays, and the hostess sat us immediately at a booth in the dining room.

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We were handed breakfast and lunch menus, which didn’t have a lot of options to choose from. IMG_20170402_112849

There was a nice little history about the Chuck Wagon Diner on the front of the menu, which was nice to read, as it’s definitely one of the best diner-looking diners we’ve been to in our travels. The prices on the menu were so low we started to question the quality, but we were in it to win it. Besides, we couldn’t have had a worse experience than yesterday’s go-round at the Country View Diner. While we perused the menu, we had the speediest delivery of coffee and water to date. Less than a minute from ordering to receiving–our waiter was great!

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Unfortunately the coffee and water were not as great. The water tasted like it came out of old pipes, and we ended up rating it a 2 out of 5. The coffee was a 2 as well, since it tasted as old and burnt out as the transmission on an ’87 Corolla.

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I ordered a mushroom and Swiss omelette, with an English muffin and plain home fried potatoes. I was assured by the waiter that the home fries had no seasonings on them, which (you can already tell from my tone) was completely wrong. Matt ordered a cheese omelette with home fries, a banana muffin, and a side of corned beef hash. It was nice to see the Chuck Wagon embraced cheeses of various nationalities — American, Swiss, Mozzarella, and Cheddar.

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The food came out in a little over 10 minutes, which was nice to see since it wasn’t super busy. The omelettes were average, definitely a solid 3 out of 5. The home fried potatoes were very good even though they had some spices on them, and everything else was pretty average as well. Though the corned beef hash was saltier than your ex best friend, the banana muffin was good and the English muffin was perfectly toasted. We’re rating the food a 3 overall. The only thing that made me frown was the fact that there were a few caraway seeds in every food item that had been on the grill. Apparently rye bread had sent its minions out to infiltrate and flavor everything else just a tad. I see you, rye bread. Do NOT come for me.

The service was impeccable at the Chuck Wagon Diner; the waiter refilled our coffees as soon as we ran out and came back a few times throughout the meal to check on things, bringing us whatever we needed in record time. We rarely give a 5 for service, but the Chuck Wagon gets this perfect score. They treat their customers well and are quick to get you whatever you need.

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We don’t usually comment on the bathrooms at diners we visit, but the Chuck Wagon deserves a special shoutout for being hilarious and thoughtful. In the women’s restroom, there was a legit changing table for infants with a padded top. Not one of those weird plastic ones that fold down from the wall. Above the restrooms was a sign reminding patrons, “Don’t squat with your spurs on,” and in the men’s bathroom was a custom toilet paper holder called the CrapMaster 3000.

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What a time to be alive.

At the counter were a group of individuals who appeared to be regulars, and one of the older men busted out a harmonica at one point to play “You Are My Sunshine.” It was lovely.

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Tin ceiling with matching light fixtures over every booth.

The humorous decor spilled over into the dining room, where a funny sign captured our attention before we noticed the babymakin’ pigs.

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America.

We were given a handwritten check, which really sealed the deal on our dinerness rating of 5.

Our experience at the Chuck Wagon Diner was pleasant and we would definitely stop there again. The service was excellent, the staff was friendly and welcoming, and the booths were clean. There’s ample parking in the front and back, with nice views of Duanesburg all around.

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Country View Diner

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Far, far away in the land of Rensselaer County lies the small town of Brunswick, New York, home of the Country View Diner. We sought out this diner after passing it years ago on an expedition to get familiar with the area.

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We sat down at a booth that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a very long time. The fake flowers looked like they were dying, and the vase they were in was sticky and crusty. The booth seats had dried splattered something on them, and if the walls could talk, they would say “Please bleach the slop off our faces.”

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While waiting for our coffee and water, we took in our environment, which was a mix of mirrored columns with greasy handprints, chrome accents, drab gray formica, and neon ceiling lights reminiscent of The Max, Bayside High’s favorite hangout spot from “Saved by the Bell.”

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IMG_20170401_112133The booths were like sitting on a weird water bed, very floofy and not very supportive. We perused the menu, which had selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner–typical diner fare. The only atypical and confusing piece was the selection of “salads,” which were actually just salad platters. You’d get a bed of lettuce with tomato, cucumber, and chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad or grilled chicken. I asked for a grilled chicken salad with tomato, cucumber, green peppers and a hard boiled egg, with blue cheese dressing on the side. Then I crossed my fingers that I’d get something reminiscent of a salad.

Matt ordered a cup of chili and a turkey club sandwich. While we waited, we tasted the coffee and water, and checked out the condiments on our table. The salt and pepper shakers needed a healthy cleaning.

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The coffee tasted like it had been around the block a few times in the same coffee pot and had a lingering, unpleasant aftertaste — a solid 2 out of 5 in our book. The water was astonishingly a 4.

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Around us was a mix of college kids and locals, and though we were there on the early side of lunch (11:30am), the place was not busy at all. Within fifteen minutes of ordering, we got our meals. They brought out Matt’s chili at the same time as his turkey club, and his fries were cold. I had no egg on my salad and there were olives on it, though I didn’t ask for any.

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 I would like to take this opportunity to propose a call to action to all diners: Olives, like sardines and artichokes, are a very polarizing food. Please do not automatically assume olives are okay. They are Satan’s turds and I don’t want them on my plate.

After I carefully picked all those evil little nuggets off my salad, I noticed the iceberg lettuce was bitter, and looked like it had been partially frozen at one point. The chicken had strange brown spots that I didn’t even bother with, and I couldn’t even eat half the salad. The tomatoes tasted bland, and the cucumbers were incredibly bitter. Matt ate his chili, which was just about okay, and then tasted his fries and turkey club, which were also just okay. We were hungry, which made the turkey club start out positive, but each subsequent bite became more and more disappointing. Overall, the food was a 2.

Our waitress maintained the obviously low standards of the Country View Diner by ignoring us and our empty water glasses, passing by multiple times to take care of the adjacent tables, and the place wasn’t even close to being half full. We ran out of coffee, napkins and water, and had to get her attention before being taken care of. Service at this diner was a 2.

IMG_3685Upon walking in originally, we had seen the “desserts baked on premise” sign and the pastry case at the front, and had initially decided to try some desserts. However, after seeing how much the diner needed to be cleaned and having some terrible tasteless food, we passed on the dessert experience.

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The bill total came to about $28, which was pretty average for a diner meal for us. The dinerness of the Country View Diner was a 3, as the decor was a hybrid of grandma’s living room and a modern diner. As we were leaving, my mood started to get better, until another waitress overstepped her boundaries in a major way. She palmed my head like a basketball, said “I like your hair,” and then ran her hand down the entire length of my hair, which is nearly to my hips at this point. I was too shocked at the violation of my personal bubble to react, and I left the place seeing red.

Needless to say, the Country View Diner is a great place for a bad experience. The Country View Diner will disrespect your taste buds, your personal space and your money.

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.

Try not to lick your screen.

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.