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

Ambrosia Diner

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According to Greek mythology, ambrosia is the food and drink of the gods. Queensbury, NY isn’t exactly Mount Olympus, but the Ambrosia Diner would have you think otherwise.

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Open 7 days a week and 24 hours on the weekends, Ambrosia Diner features some of the best desserts you’ll probably ever have in Upstate NY. But more on that later.

We arrived around noon and asked for a booth. It wasn’t super busy, and the interior was beautiful. Polished tile covered the wall behind the counter, the booths were extremely comfortable and the waitstaff were all really friendly. imagejpeg_0 (2)

 

 

20150222_124920_resized_2The menus were comfortable and worn like an old leather couch, and featured a “Diner Classics” section, as well as an expansive dessert list, specialty coffees and dinner entrees. While perusing our variety of options, we ordered a coffee, water and a caramel cappuccino, making note that the desserts looked amazing and we’d have to save room.

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The water was definitely a 5 out of 5, as it tasted pure and clean with no aftertaste. The coffee was smooth, fresh and full-bodied, and is rated a 4. My cappuccino was smooth and spectacular with no odd chemical taste like you might get with a drink at some other coffee joint (I’m looking at you, Starbucks, get it together).

We each decided on French onion soup and the triple decker turkey sandwich. Matt got the french fries with his and I went with potato salad, because I was trying to pretend it was summer. (We all have our ways of coping with this freezing weather.)

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The French Onion soup, though it looked spectacular and was cooked perfectly, tasted a little bland. The cheese was fabulous though, as cheese tends to be, especially when melted in a crock.

The sandwiches were very good and obviously used real turkey instead of that 90% filler meat that you find so easily at other restaurants. The fries were cooked to a delicious golden crisp, and the potato salad was quite good (but not as good as yours, mom, if you’re reading this).

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Everything was great and the waitress made sure to keep our water glasses full. We ended up wanting dessert because everything in the display cases looked incredible. Sometimes at diners the desserts look fabulous from afar, and then when you get up close, you realize it all looks like it’s doused in Cool Whip, which isn’t even real food and  basically karma’s way of getting you back for pushing that kid at recess in the fourth grade. So…um…anyway, we had to decide among things like a carrot cake roll, banana cream pie, chocolate eclairs the size of my face and numerous other confectioneries. Matt went with the coconut cream pie and I went with the Napoleon. We asked the waitress where the desserts came from, and they actually have a bakery downstairs. That’s right, they’re baked on premises!

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So the Napoleon, as it turns out, is one of the best desserts I’ve had in my life and the coconut cream pie was incredible as well. Here are some pictures, sorry if they’re making you drool:

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It would be well worth it to drive there late night on the weekend for a cappuccino and a dessert. The food in general was a 4 but the desserts were a 5 for sure, if not a 6. The pie crust was flaky and light, and the Napoleon was dusted with powdered sugar that may or may not have been made from the tears of angels. Seriously, go there and order dessert.

We’re rating the dinerness of Ambrosia Diner a 5 out of 5, as they have captured the spirit of a classy American diner. Tile covers some of the walls, there is chrome as far as the eye can see, the counter has stool seating and the large windows offer a glimpse out to the street so you can watch the cars passing by. The old and the new come together at Ambrosia Diner a way that most diners seek to replicate but never quite get.

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If you’re in Queensbury or find yourself within a 100 mile radius of it some weekend, make a point to go there and get the Napoleon or a coconut cream pie slice. Nothing connects you to the gods quite like a little taste of heaven.

 

 

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Fairview Diner and Bakery

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FullSizeRender (10)We went to Hudson, NY for the CSA Fair this morning (which was stellar, by the way), and Googled diners in the area afterwards. The best-sounding one was Fairview Diner & Bakery, named after the street it’s on and the quality of the surrounding area. It’s located in an old plaza called Columbia Center that also plays host to Goodwill, MoviePlex, Staples, America’s Best Eyeglasses and a few abandoned storefronts. We nearly drove by the Fairview Diner because it used to be a Wendy’s, and the new owners made no attempt whatsoever to update the exterior… or, it turns out, the interior.

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Yup, that’s a Wendy’s.

Here are some more shots of the exterior, because it’s too hilarious not to share:

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IMG_4762They had a “Fast Lane,” or rather, Drive Thru, where you could call your order ahead and go through to pick it up. All you have to do is drive up and press this mangled-looking button they had rigged up to the old speaker to let them know you were there.

So we went inside to scope out the breakfast and lunch buffet; as sad as it looked, we’ve made a commitment to do this “new diner every week” thing, and sometimes life hands you lemons and there’s no way to make lemonade. The music playing in the background was the best of The Bangles or something like that, and the waitstaff were polite–we’re rating service a 4 overall.  Matt and I got the breakfast buffet while Matt’s friend got a couple eggs and toast. We also ordered waters and coffees.

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It was not coffee flavored coffee, I can tell you that much.

The water was a 4 and the coffee was a 1, as it was watered down and tasted like burning. The booths were comfortable, like Wendy’s booths are, and the tables were clean and uniform in style.

FullSizeRender (9)After getting our coffees and waters, Matt and I grabbed some plates and carefully read the buffet rules they had posted:

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IMG_3266We had higher hopes for the food, but it seemed the only palatable items were the hash brown potatoes, country potatoes covered in rosemary, and French toast. Matt’s friend ordered some eggs that were actually cooked pretty well but not super tasty, and the toast was…well…toast. So that’s a plus. At the buffet, they also had a bland veggie omelet that was replete with veggies but not much omelet or flavor, and the bacon was crumbly and overcooked. The sausage was burned at the ends but cooked nicely in the middle, and the pancake and waffle bits looked promising. Also featured on the buffet was oatmeal, scrambled eggs, syrup, biscuits and sausage gravy. Imagine all of those in quotation marks because I’m sure none of the ingredients were natural.

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It’s a dessert display case, I guess, so they have that going for them, which is nice.

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Just say no to drugs. And the soup.

 

Overall, the food was a 2. It was bland, and tasted like the food you’d get at Denny’s without the quality control you’d find at Denny’s. Here’s a haiku I’ve written about their food in case you’re into that sort of thing…

Fairview Diner food.

It sits in your belly like

unending sadness.

Across from the Fairview Diner is a Taco Bell/Long John Silver’s combo, and I hear they serve weird taco-y breakfasts at Taco Bell now, so just go there instead. Here is a photo that I will leave you with, which sums up our experience at the Fairview Diner. Cross your fingers for us for next weekend.

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Jack’s Diner

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Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The same can be said for Central Ave in Albany. It moves pretty fast, and if you’re not paying attention, you’ll drive right by Jack’s Diner.

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Jack’s is surrounded by numerous other businesses in a busy section of Central Ave. It’s frequented by college kids and locals looking for a good breakfast or lunch on the cheap. Though the parking lot is tiny and could fit only 7 or 8 cars, there is ample parking across the street, so don’t let that deter you.

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When you walk into Jack’s, one of the first things you notice is the old-timey diner car ambiance. There is chrome as far as the eye can see, and counter seating for about 15+ people. Jack’s desserts and cans of soda are in a display case behind the counter with sliding glass doors. Booths are decently comfortable, though not the best we’ve seen–you can tell they’ve been broken in, but that’s not a bad thing. They were playing some soft rock/pop station in the background…I find that music is one of those things that you miss when it’s absent, but don’t notice as much when it’s on.

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IMG_3207We each ordered a water and a coffee as we perused the menu. Prices are pretty average as far as diners go, and the selection was better than basic. Their breakfast and lunch menu items sounded great, and much of it was homemade. I went for the French onion soup and a Philly cheese steak wrap, because I was feeling worldly, and Matt ordered a grilled homemade corn muffin and a Belgian waffle with a side of corned beef hash. The IMG_8932waitress asked if he wanted homemade or canned hash, and he made the only logical choice. (Always go with homemade.)

While waiting for our food, which wasn’t long, we tasted the water and coffee. We rated the water a 3, as it’s totally drinkable but not overwhelmingly pure-tasting. The coffee was a low 3, as it tasted a bit watered down and burned. It needed creamers and sugar to be tolerable.

The food itself was fantastic; IMG_3208Matt’s grilled corn muffin was delicious, toasted perfectly and made even better with the AA grade whipped butter that was available. My French onion soup was great, it could have stayed in the oven a bit longer to crisp the top of the cheese, but was by far the best soup I’ve had at a diner in a long time. I could actually see the bits of garlic that went into it, and I had a bay leaf in it, which I’ve heard is lucky (and I’m totally choosing to believe that). The cheese steak wrap was fabulous, with thick slices of grilled green peppers and onions, and a side of fries that were cooked perfectly. Matt’s Belgian waffle with sliced banana, butter and whipped cream was delicious, and the homemade corned beef hash was better than 90% of the hash we’ve had at diners IMG_8933before.

The waitstaff at Jack’s Diner is friendly and helpful, and service is a 5. Jack’s is getting a 5 on dinerness as well, since the place essentially looks like it was an old dining car at some point. We got a handwritten bill at the end, which you really don’t see at many places anymore, and the formica-topped counter and tables all matched. There are IMG_8934numerous framed black and white photos of Albany in the old days; the one I found most interesting was of The Egg being built.

Jack’s Diner is a great place to stop any day of the week, and has a particularly chill crowd on the weekend. Our experience was positive and we would definitely go back soon, if it weren’t for our goal to visit a new spot every week.

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Schag-A-Val

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Hundreds of years ago, people packed up their belongings and headed out west in the name of exploration and finding new places to stake their claim. Today, we headed northeast with a slightly different goal: find a new diner.IMG_3160
We ended up in Schaghticoke, NY at the Schag-A-Val Diner, across from a Stewart’s on a small-town-busy road. It counts as a diner because it’s got “Diner” in the name, but it seems that the diner part of the restaurant was an afterthought of a pizzeria. The interior looks like a pizza place (which it is in the afternoon/evening), but there are no booths, just four top tables and a counter. We had never been to Schaghticoke, and it turns out that during the winter it’s a snowmobiling town.

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We sat down at a table, and one of the two waitresses took our order. We both got coffee and water, as per usual. The water was a 4; the coffee was a 3–it tasted a bit watered down and weak, but not burnt. I ordered a broccoli omelette with home fries and sausage patties. Matt ordered a grilled corn muffin, a breakfast sandwich and corned beef hash. While waiting for our food, we took in the decor of the place some more, which seemed a bit tacky, like we were in an Applebee’s. There are a lot of black and white framed photos of the town on the walls and plenty of faux vintage signs, like the pan-shaped one that said “Breakfast served all day” even though the menu says breakfast is only served until 2pm.

The waitress brought us our food pretty quickly, and was extremely polite and helpful.IMG_3153 We’re rating the service a 4. The food, however, was mostly tasteless. The omelette was bland, and the sausage tasted like it had been in the freezer too long. The corn muffin was tasty, but the breakfast sandwich and corned beef hash were not. Perhaps the only redeeming portion of my plate was the home fries, which were well cooked if still a bit bland. Overall, we’re rating the food a 2. It was a letdown for sure. But I bet their pizza is good?

We’re rating the dinerness of Schag-A-Val a 1, which is probably IMG_3163the lowest dinerness rating thus far. There were no mirrors scattered around the place, no chrome (except on the stools at the counter), no waitresses that looked like they’d been working there for eons, and no general diner feeling to the place. Definitely an afterthought of a pizzeria.

We wouldn’t recommend the Schag-A-Val to you, but if you’re in the area and hungry, there may be other diners that we just didn’t see. Or at least there’s a Stewart’s across the street that’s definitely got better breakfast sandwiches and coffee if you’ve got a hankerin’ after a long morning of snowmobiling.

IMG_3161(One thing we haven’t seen before: advertising on the mugs. High five on your advertising game Schag-A-Val, and getting your mugs paid for many times over.)

 

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