Good Enough to Eat

Every time I get a chance I will go to a classic diner. They’re getting harder and harder to find. Good ones are even scarcer. What do I define a “Classic Diner “ as? Back in the day, it would have to have been locally owned, in its own building, preferably with a barrel-shaped roof, good food, and friendly people working there.

Unfortunately, I have had to lower my standards and expectations these days. I realize some things will never be again, they don’t make Worcester diners anymore. But the rest are still fixable.

One thing I have never considered to be necessary for a classic diner is price. As long as I am getting good quality food at a fair price then I’m good. It can’t be easy for a diner/restaurant owner to make money these days which is why I’ll never complain, as long as it’s good.

Today I stopped at a classic diner. Covered in polished aluminum, glass, and a stone facade, chrome throughout the interior, and smiles all around. I was at the “Athenian II Diner “ in Middletown CT.

For me, it checked off all the boxes. It was probably built in the sixties or maybe the seventies but age doesn’t matter. Especially the older one gets, age is all relative. It wasn’t small by any stretch of the imagination but even though it was almost full it wasn’t loud and crazy.

What really impressed me was how friendly people were. both staff and customers. Whenever I can I will sit at the counter. Now I’m not one who just strikes up a conversation with people I don’t know, in fact, I don’t even strike up a conversation with people I do know. I’ve always been that way and I’m working on changing that. But today there was an older gentleman sitting two stools down. He was definitely a local.

I heard him say to the waitress (I know we can’t say that anymore) that he was a Navy veteran. I struck up a conversation with him. Like my dad, he was on a destroyer. Dad was in WW2, this vet was in Korea.

The staff all seemed to like their jobs, at least from what I could see. When you sit at the counter you are usually near either the kitchen or the pass-through to it meaning this is where the staff seems to congregate and bitch. I heard none of that here. If I had a scorecard to rate restaurants and bars servers complaining would be a big deduction. I didn’t hear gushing positivity but there was no negative talk.

The other big thing for me when I am in any food place, but especially a breakfast place is I don’t want to ask for a second cup of coffee. When my cup is empty ask me if I want a refill. I was asked twice, by two different people. And when the first cup was empty until it was filled it was only 17.2 seconds. You got to love the stopwatch on your phone.

Why did I time it? When I walked into the diner I just had the feeling it might not be a great experience here. No particular reason other than lately when I have stopped places on my road trips I haven’t had great experiences. I was wrong here.

The food was excellent. I had the eggs Benedict with corn beef hash. Homemade hash in fact. I’m sure I have written about hash before, if not I will soon. It was delicious with just enough paprika to not be overpowering. The Hollandaise sauce was delicious as well. I don’t know how to make Hollandaise sauce, I don’t even know what it is made from, but I know when it sucks. This one didn’t suck.

If I have one complaint about the food it would be the home fries. They were a little dry and with not a lot of flavor. But that’s okay as the rest of the food was awesome.

I will definitely stop here again even if I need to go out of my way. You should too if you want a good breakfast in a restaurant good enough to be called a “Classic Diner “. It’s located at 864 Washington Street in Middletown CT.

Oh and for the record I bought the Navy man breakfast.

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