The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Diner in Williamsburg: Still Awesome

This post originally took place on December 13, 2009.

market salad
Salad. Yum.

How to vastly improve a salad: add a fried egg.

Hell, many things would be improved by adding a fried egg. Piece of toast too boring? BOOYA—plop on a fried egg. That bowl of ramen looking lonely? KAPOW—fried egg to the rescue! Your plate looking empty? ...Because there's nothing on it? I know what would make that better—oh hell, IT'S A FRIED EGG.

The salad ($10) I ate during brunch with Greg, Kathryn, and Dan at Diner featured mustard greens mixed with pickled shallots, thinly sliced jerusalem artichoke, and bacon nubs tossed in a potent vinaigrette (perhaps a little too much of it, but I didn't mind) all topped with a bulbous fried egg, thankfully well salted and peppered.

Unfortunately, since I ate this about a month ago and they change most of their menu every day, the salad they're currently serving won't be exactly the same—but I'm sure it's awesome. I can still remember how good my salad during my first visit to Diner in 2008 was, and it was totally different from the one I ate last month aside from also having something pickled. Hell, it was awesome even sans fried egg. A memorable salad that's unique and well balanced is hard to come by. I don't know where else to get one. (Admittedly, I haven't been looking, nor have I tried to make one myself. I'd like to delve more into the subject of how a really good salad can fill me with joy of a higher quality than that derived from a really good slab-o-pork, but I need to eat more good salads. God knows I've eaten enough pork.)

burger, closer burger, composed

Although I think it's best to try new things when eating out, I ordered the same entrée as last time: a cheeseburger ($13). It was important that I find out if it still held up as one of my favorites in New York City. ...It's "research." Also, I wanted a burger. A thick patty coated in cheese and topped with lettuce and fat rounds of pickled onions. Thank god for pickled onions: They provide the crunchiness of raw onions without the unpleasant effect of making my mouth feel like something died in it for the rest of the day.


The burger didn't strike me as full of butter-dripping goodness as my previous experience, but it left its impression as "excellent" for another reason: the mega-beefy and funky flavor, to the point of making me wonder, "What the heck did they put in this meat?" I obviously don't eat enough good beef. Kathryn likened it to steak-on-a-bun. This ain't no bland burger (it probably doesn't need the cheese), and it was just juicy enough when cooked to my preferred medium rare. The bun suited the meat and toppings well—I don't recall anything particularly great or bad about it. In addition to the awesome burger, the thick, crispy fries are great too. When I inevitably return to Diner, it'll be hard to want to order anything else.

country breakfast
Country breakfast.

If you prefer more typical breakfast fare, go for the country breakfast ($13). Like the salad, this is one of those dishes that might change from time to time. During our visit, the platter included scrambled eggs (well seasoned, woohoo!), biscuits and gravy with sausage, and a salad.

vanilla bean bourbon french toast
French toast.

While Greg and Dan went for the breakfast plates, Kathryn went with the vanilla bean bourbon French toast ($10). But French toast on its own doesn't really cut it, so...

side order of bacon for Kathryn

...she added a side of crispy bacon. Pork completes the meal.

scone with pear and cranberries?

The pear and cranberry scone ($4) filled with what may have been something lemony and a plop of something creamy was not particularly memorable, as I've exhibited in this sort of useless paragraph. It wasn't bad, nor great.

Bloody Maria for Dan
Bloody Maria.

I tried a sip of Dan's Bloody Maria just for kicks, knowing very well I wouldn't like it. It elicited the common Robyn response: a face scrunch or two, after ingesting a half-sip's worth. I'm about 156% sure that I'll never understand the appeal of cold spicy alcoholic tomato soup, but I'm okay with that. I'm open to trying any alcoholic drink at least once, mostly for the purpose of being able to confidently put it in my "do not want" list, partially with the minuscule hope that I'll find something that I don't dislike too much. Unfortunately, I don't think that day will come until most of my taste buds have died.

Of course, my reaction has no bearing on how good the cocktail was. Unless it's an inverse correlation—perhaps the less I like a cocktail, the better it is to the rest of the world.


85 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (map)


Diner: Salads and Burgers, Gimme More


egeria / January 9, 2010 8:04 AM

Except for the fact that I don't like runny eggs (I prefer mine well done :D), that salad looks pretty much perfect!

And the burger..yowza I need a bib for the drool!

Edd / January 9, 2010 8:07 AM

Fried egg is the ONLY way to enjoy a salad especially with a sprinkling of crisp bacon, actually just skip the salad have the egg and bacon

Tina / January 9, 2010 11:37 AM

The scone looks scrumptious. Sad face that it wasn't tasty.

I need to expand my burger repertoire since I keep going to Shake Shack out of blind loyalty and knowing that it'll be consistently delicious. This one (at Diner) looks pretty awesome.

Katie / January 9, 2010 12:09 PM

I have only read the opening paragraph so far, but given your affinity for fried eggs, you should definitely check out Matthew Amster-Burton and Molly Wizenberg's new podcast where they rave about Fried Eggs. (I don't know either of them, I just think that they're funny and I like fried eggs.)

Laryssa / January 9, 2010 1:21 PM

What a great post! The fried egg in the first picture fills me with joy. I was supposed to go to Diner back in July, for my best friend's birthday - she really wanted to go. The place was completely empty when we got there, but the hostess gave us so much attitude. I will never forget how nasty she was to us. I don't even remember why or exactly what she said, but we were so turned off by the way she treated us that we left and went to Aurora instead.

Ana / January 9, 2010 2:01 PM

Hey--love your blog. There is a place here in Toronto called Biermarkt that has an awesome steak and beet salad with a deep fried panko encrusted soft boiled quails egg on it, which is crunchy and runny and sooooooo good. That is how you make salad EVEN better.

roboppy / January 9, 2010 2:22 PM

FN: It was! I just had a lil bit.

Joyce: Yup!

egeria: Hard boiled eggs are my fave, but runny fried eggs are second!

Edd: Mm, egg bacon salad.


Tina: Shake Shack is still my fave. :D But if you wanna go to Diner sometime..I'd go back!

Katie: Thanks for the link, I'll check it out!

Laryssa: Aw, sorry to hear that. The service was fine when we went and the place was crooowded (brunch is usually like that though, eh?) Hope you decide to try it again sometime!

Ana: Thanks for reading! Deep fried panko quail eggs sounds freakin awesome. Waaant.

N / January 9, 2010 6:45 PM

Hey, Robyn, I like this new policy of reporting the price of the ingested foods! Wonderful blog

sheila rankin / January 10, 2010 3:56 PM

One of my favorite salads is by Jamie Oliver where he places a poached egg on top. One of my family's all time favorites. It is called "Warm bread salad of crispy pancetta, parmesan and poached egg".

PS I met your brother at my friends house and he shared your info with me.

roboppy / January 11, 2010 12:11 AM

N Ahh, I need to make it a habit! I don't always write down prices (and sometimes menus online aren't correct) but I'll try to do it from now on. :)

sheila: Oo...I want to make that salad! Hope meeting my brother wasn't too strange. ;D

marsha Calhoun / January 11, 2010 1:20 PM

It is so nice to see you using the word minuscule properly, and spelling it right to boot. And of course, now (10 a.m.) I want a hamburger for breakfast too.

swapna / January 11, 2010 2:04 PM

Hi Robyn,

I've been a lurker for more than a year now .Commenting for the first time , because I hate alcohol ,worst part being I want to enjoy it and like being drunk :-)
So yay to meet someone like me :-)

Amazing blog ! Makes me hungry every time I visit

alison / January 11, 2010 9:16 PM

i love the burger at diner, it is such a good combination of vaguely fancy but still completely crunchy and delicious.

Cat / January 12, 2010 2:01 PM

FRIED EGG ON RAMEN! I will eat this later today.

I love the contrast of the salad next to the country balance, sort of like an acknowledgment that this is a ridiculously heavy meal and we'll supplement this BREAKFAST with a salad, lol!

Ms. Blake / January 12, 2010 4:38 PM

I'm with you on the Bloody Mary deal. ICK! I used to bartend and one of the grossest drinks I had to make was a Ramos Fizz which had gin, egg white and vanilla ice cream in it (among other things). It was allegedly good for a hangover but I could never bring myself to try it.

roboppy / January 12, 2010 10:39 PM

marsha Calhoun: Ain't no reason you can't eat a burger for breakfast in a world of McGriddles! Mmm. And minuscule is a fun word.

swapna: Thanks for de-lurking! I think I've been mildly drunk twice, and neither time was all that enjoyable. I was just dizzy. FAIL!

alison: I love meat crunch.

Cat: Yeah, salad with bacon in it = good supplement!

Ms Blake: I'd try a drink with vanilla ice cream in it! I just don't want tomato juice. :)

veronica / January 14, 2010 11:13 AM

i completely agree with your egg on salad theory. or maybe i just have a love for eggs in general.. i'm finally back from asia, let's hang out sooon!

eatyourheartout / January 19, 2010 9:38 AM

That fried egg on top of the salad of greens looks tasty... I should make that on my own one of these weekends.

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