June 21, 2008
Diner: Salads and Burgers, Gimme More
I left my apartment to head towards Diner just in time to catch a lovely skin-moistening downpour. My usually hurried gait turned more into a geriatric shuffle as I tried to avoid puddles and unnaturally occurring waterfalls by way of overhead subway tracks. Bits of asphalt loosened by the rain snuck their way in between my toes, but the impromptu shower also washed the dirt that usually coats my exposed feet. However nice it was to have clean-ish feet (as clean as feet washed in Brooklyn rain could be), they experienced an uncomfortable sensation of prickly asphalt bits and slippery squishes with every step.
Oh, I did have an umbrella. It could've been worse.
And then I found the restaurant about 15 minutes later. Of course, by the time I was walking the last block or two to Diner's front door, the rain had mostly stopped. I just happened to pick that perfect pocket of time for the sky to pee on me.
Alice and I pushed through Diner's thick door—possibly made of lead, or something heavier—with one thing on our minds: hamburgers. Nick's drool-inducing review on A Hamburger Today is what lured me there. ...Besides the close proximity to my apartment.
- There's more!
But there's more than just hamburgers. While the short printed menu may feature a burger and fries, the full ever-changing seasonal menu appears when the waitress writes it on your paper table covering and describe each dish in more detail than you'll be able to remember (you can read sample menus on their website). My brain just latched onto whatever sounded good.
- OH, SALAD, I LUFF YOU
My brain latched onto their Greenmarket salad. Yes. A salad. I don't usually order salads since I expect most of them to suck, but I had a good feeling about Diner's version, probably because the waitress said "sugar snap peas," after which point my brain happily melted. I love fresh sugar snap peas. And I loved this salad. A lot. Even more than the pork chop, which I'll get to in a sec.
Telling you about this salad is probably pointless because they may not be making it anymore, besides that I can't remember everything that was in it (I guess this is why people take notes while they're eating a meal), but let's see if i can capture the awesomeness of this salad in mere words. ... ...Nope, probably not. The mix of mesclun and vegetables of non-leafy nature just tasted so fresh, like concentrated spring in every bite, and completely un-boring with its mix of flavors and textures. The cauliflower chunks, sliced carrots, and sugar snap peas provided lots of crunch. Aside from the sugar snap peas, the tart pickled radishes and rhubarb were my favorite parts of the salad. I'm assuming that whatever tasted like umeboshi and looked like chopped celery was pickled rhubarb, at least.
But a salad isn't just a bunch of chopped vegetables in a bowl; there's also dressing. And whatever dressing they used, it was just right; lightly applied to touch each ingredient and compliment—not mask—the vegetable's flavor. I need to learn how to make these kinds of salads at home, which probably mostly involves buying great ingredients. And pickling things.
Settling on the Berkshire pork chop was easy; Alice and I automatically latched onto it during the waitress's menu recitation, pretty much ignoring all the other choices. Surprisingly though, my favorite parts of the dish may have been the sugar snap peas hiding under the thick pork chop and the fresh purslane (my first time eating it!) scattered on top. Something about fresh vegetables makes me very happy.
As does pork, of course. The meat was incredibly flavorful, juicy and soft, but not necessarily tender, if soft and tender could be seen as two different things. ...It made sense in my head. I didn't do a very good job on the pork chop since I totally suck at eating stuff off the bone, unless it's "fall off the bone"-tender. Alice, the accomplished eater that she is, impressively gnawed the bone clean, getting meat out of crevices I didn't even think meat could come out of.
- THE BURGOR!!
And how about that hamburger, or cheeseburger more like? It was one of the best burgers I've ever had, due to whatever magical grass-fed meat they use and the all important buttering of the bun. Butter. Is. Your. Friend. A hamburger bun that's treated as a butter sponge is a beautiful thing. The result is the heavenly combination of butter flavor and beefy flavor in every bite, an explosion of fatty goodness that tricks your brain into eating more of this deathly mix of...pure awesomeness. I'm not sure how I'd fare eating a full burger, but since Alice and I split the dishes 50/50, my stomach felt pretty comfortable. For a much better description of this burger, make sure to read Nick's review.
And yes, the fries were also very good. Crisp, and cut from whole potatoes.
- Mm, crumble.
We finished with a strawberry rhubarb crumble topped with a large plop of fresh whipped cream. Sweet, warm strawberry and rhubarb goo, cookie-like dough chunk, and cool whipped cream in every bite; you can't go wrong. Unless you try to eat the whole thing yourself, which after a meal of pork chop and burger could be quite uncomfortable.
Although my dinner was nearly the splurgy side ($40 per person, but mostly because of the $30 pork chop), I wouldn't hesitate to go back and splurge some more. Or just get a $12 cheeseburger. The main downside to the restaurant was the noise level of "you'll probably have to scream at the person sitting across from you and vice versa," but maybe you should just be concentrating on the food anyway.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Posted by roboppy at 11:13 PM
oh my goodness are you serious!!! i just interviewed one of FL former exec chef's now living in ATL. wow. i MUST be there! He told me it's damn near impossible to get reservations. I'm so glad I read this... I sure hope I get added to the mix!!!
are those your notes under the burger?
Perhaps we should try for an East coast Keller experience and get a group together for Per Se :)
I'm amazed that the waitresses have the time to jot down the specials on the table for you -- what happens during the dinner rush? I'm assuming the paper is changed after each table turn.. talk about a pain!! I sure as hell wouldn't be able to write that fast.
I think my father would be able to give Alice a run for her money in a bone gnawing contest. He LOVES chomping on those suckers. Coincidentally, he was born in the year of the dog.
Oh my god. The pork. The burger. Look. Soooo. Good. I think i may buy some tonight and try and recreate those meals. Or just eat plain cooked pork. Or maybe raw? Is it ok raw?
That cheeseburger looks like a real heart-stopper! Yum!
Wow, pickled radish and rhubarb in a salad. Sounds like genius to me, I lurrrve umeboshi ^^ Must give it a try sometime.
Nghhh that looks so good! Next time we are being lazy at your apartment, lets go there! Or at least DuMont ;)
FlaNBoyant Eats: I'd be too lazy to try to get my own reservation, or I'd just assume that I wouldn't be able to get one. :( Siigh.
Santos: Ahh, Alice wrote something down for me..the name of a bakery I should try out! And I forgot what it was. Doh.
Steph: Oooh...a part of me wants to!..but a bigger part of me wants to...save money. Waah!
My brother, also born in the year of the dog, is adept at chomping bones. ..Wait, I think Alice is also born in the year of the dog!
Hayley: Raw pork...okay, that might be the only form of pork that is less than tasty, heh. Unless it's cured. Hmmm.
Vanessa: It had the potential to stop hearts, I'm pretty sure.
SuperChomp: Maybe umeboshi goes well in salads too then!
Olivia: Oh yeah, I'd try DuMont! I'm a 10 min walk away from there. LET'S...GO..SOME..PLACE...
Your pictures always looks so great..I'm drooling when I see them! What type of camera do you use?
That looks good! Can't wait for dinner with you. I am sure dinner is gonna be amazing!
Butter + beef on a burger?!
THAT SOUNDS DELICIOUS :D
omgZ! eyes feel semi framous. for serious, robo bobo, ur nom nom words take me back to the pork -- speaking of which, i was actually born in the year of the pork. :D
hopefully that does not make me a cannibal, as I'm quite fond of eating my brethren. -_-;;
so... many... brethren...
as for ze bones, they were deliciousness. and if I weren't in a public area, I would have done a better job. YAAAARM!
P.S. The name of the bakery is Shakoor's Sweet Tooth. Gaaaaaah! Why did you not remind me? It was right around the corner from my house!
P.P.S. 2day was crazy-kins, I promise to serve thee MUCH better the next time around.
Pork + cheese + meaty oozy substances = brainlatch.
I've got to admit, salads .... hnn ... are they ever really described? Sure, sure, you get the odd ramble-blamble about 'doused in so and so sauce' and 'crispy cut leaves', but in the end, they're greenie goodies. And rhubarbs? Think of a more decorated superhero in red that swoops in to save the day. Same goes for most umeboshis. In short. Salads = heroes that save the tummy region from slapping you upside the face when you overindulge in gluttony.
But back to meaty substances. Oozing pinkish meat slathered in cheese over the meat and flavor-filled meaty strips of meat that can be torn savagely from the bone, caveman style, without leaving meat behind, bringing their layer of goopy fat with them on the meat. (note my subtle wordplay?). Hell, ANY meat is fine by me. I can relate to your inability to tear the last pieces of meat off; too many teeth, too little meat, and bone doesn't taste too right O_o. But hey, put it this way - your accomplished friend may have mastered the knack of curling her mouth around the meaty strips and pulling them away. I have another technique - I shove my face in that mess. Thataway, the goop left on my face can be saved for later.
(no kidding. I'm not really that strange).
And that crumble. Need I even start on how edible that looks? More importantly; how GORGEOUS is that dollop of cream? But my penchant for desserts means that my post will take at least three years to write, so I'll leave it at that.
On a side note, I should so attach myself to your feet sometime, Peter-Pan-Shadow style, and sneak around to the best eateries. My food radar is broken Dx
G: Yes...it keeps the planties happy!
Diane: Thanks! I use a Canon 20D with a Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC macro lens.
Reese: I too hope it's amazing.
Trixy: Some places do slather their burgers in butter. But not enough.
Alice: AHH CRAP I forgot about the bakery! Um. We'll have to hit that another time.
And ahhh, year of the pork!...okay...so this makes you a pork-eating champion! If that makes any sense! Yeah!
Viv: My food radar is basically "other people recommending stuff to me," so maybe you just need to find...more people who will tell you where to eat!
omgaoainondoasidnaodn! that burger looks amazing! i just tried the classic at stand and was a bit disappointed. Diner is now the next stop on my list.
dumont is yummy, though i dont know if they butter their buns. last time i was there i had duck rillettes. i had forgotten what "rillettes" so that was a surprise - ha! but fatty stuff you spread on bread?? SCORE.
u kno whats good? a burger w/ butter & seasoning mixed into the ground meat and grilled. holy shiz, it was awesome! that salad sounds like a yummy garden party. mmm...
Becky: I've only been to Stand once and that visit didn't turn me into a fan. I heard it's a little better now though. My main problem was that my milkshake sucked...hm.
Janet: I love rillettes. Yay faaaat.
Anna: I want one of those burgers. :(
it's hard for me to order salad at restaurants - I just feel that of all things, salad is probably the easiest to make and I'd just would rather have something more complicated - I would merrily pay $30 a plate for a dish that took 3 hours to prep and cook. but...maybe it's just cuz I've not reached salad nirvana...
Kate: You can just wipe the screen off afterwards.
Jaden: I agree...and I'm not one to order salads at a restaurant cos it seems like a rip off. But the waitress made the salad sound really good. Gaah! I just need to find awesome ingredients and combine them myself.. :[
I totally love super fresh vegetables that taste of springlike awesome. WHY MUST I HAVE TO SEARCH FOR THEM?!?!?!?!
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