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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!