Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Diner, a review

We went to the Diner last night. It was opening night I think, and very busy, but our overall impressions were good.

We had two burgers, one with cheese and bacon. Fries, and "Diner Fries", black beans, a cheesecake and one Margherita and one "Diner lager".

I can only speak for myself but the burger was excellent, tasted of beef and fitted into its bun. I find burgers (Gourmet burger is a good example) which you can't eat with your hands to rather miss the point. It also didn't come with too much sauce or so on. The chips were good, and portions large, you could probably do with one between two unless you are very hungry. 'Diner' fries were thicker chips (I'm not sure the menu made that clear) and coated cajun spice. My cheesecake was also a perfect New York style baked cheesechake. The service was good and the room pleasant, noisy but not too noisy.

The two downsides were the Margherita, which apparently 'tasted like lemsip', i.e. too sweet and artificial. This is a little strange as it clearly wasn't made with lime cordial but fresh limes (I saw them). The 'Diner' lager was a solid thirst-quenching beer. Second criticism might be that the cheesechake was rather small, I wondered whether it was because they were running out.

Still all that came to about 30 pounds plus service, which seemed reasonable. Also having the burgers, whilst something one often does, ignores the fact that there was a lot of diner-style food - chilli, hot dogs, tacos, and American-style breakfasts (waffles, pancakes, eggs in any style) that are much harded to find in Kensal Rise. Thus I think it's an exciting addition.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

As promised in my previous post I visited The Diner on Saturday for lunch with my mum.

Arrived around 4pm and although it was busy we were seated very quickly. Thankfully it's all booth style seating so nice and comfy with lots of room / good for a group of mates or families.

The staff were really attentive (maybe slightly over keen to get you to order) but no complaints it's better than having to try and get their attention. I also noticed they were alot nicer than the staff at the Soho branch who need to remove themselves from their own backsides.

The menu is good and varied but I did notice that they don't really do starters as such just sides.

Drinks wise I had a coconut & pistachio milkshake which I have to say was pretty special and my mum had still water.

Food - I ordered a bacon & cheese burger with side orders of cajun fries and onion rings. The burger was very tasty indeed but I must say a little on the small side for the £7 odd price for the burger alone. The bun was also a little strange in that it was more like two tops of a bun - you'll see what I mean and again quite small. But still tasty. You could tell they use good quality / tasty meat in their burgers and are definitely better than the burgers in The Regent which are more style over substance / taste.

The cajun fries were tasty but I was under the impression they were coated in the spice before cooking rather than just plonked on the top afterwards so slightly disappointed.

No complaints on the onion rings they were fab. Really crunchy.

My mum had the meatloaf with mash and greens and really enjoyed it.

Even though I was pretty full afterwards we managed to squeeze in sharing a banoffee pie which was ok but I don't think desserts are their strong point. The portion again wasn't huge like you usually expect in a diner (or maybe that's just New York diners). The banana had gone a bit brown, the biscuit base was a bit pale and not very crunchy and the cream on top was too soft like squirt cream. There was also this strange topping on it. I couldn't work out what it was.

They have a children's play area which is handy given I'm about to give birth any minute. It's quite small and I did feel sorry for the staff as there were alot of kids wondering around so they had to keep dodging them.

The decor is clean and simple but could have done with looking a bit more like a diner. Towards the back of the restaurant was better but the front seemed very bright and could have done with being a bit more kitsch.

Overall my impressions were good and I will definitely visit again. I wish them very well as anything that improves the area is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I went with my partner one Sunday afternoon, it was ok. It was busy, kids everywhere, but somehow the service was still okay. Friendly waitress who tried her best to be as quick as she could, and with a smile. That part was nice. The food was on the small portion side - definitely not enough food for a "diner". Not bad for the UK, but if you expect US-style diner, you're better off at Lucky Seven in Westbourne Grove. The pancakes were tiny and there was hardly any syrup given out. No american-style free-pour jar on your table, no. They give out a tiny tiny pot of syrup to go with the pancakes - not cool. For a side of bacon, you get 2 tiny strips - again, not enough. Same with the side of sausages - laughable how small they are. To be honest, I felt like I could easily prepare the same meal - bigger, better and cheaper - by taking one trip to Sainsburys down the road. I might go back to the diner, but it would be to try a milkshake, and I would only with my friends who have babies/kids who could play away. For that reason alone, it is a nice addition to the area. But it is not a total success in my books (though to be fair, I have lived in the US, and should know it would never compare). :=( Sorry!

Anonymous said...

Cheap chain restaurants out!

mairead said...

this place is brilliant!

Anonymous said...

this place is brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Starbucks next?

Anonymous said...

Hardly a chain like starbucks. Used to work in Shoreditch so have been to the one there a few times. Ok, the menu is the same but still feels friendly. IT IS cheap tho.

Matthew said...

I'm rather agnostic on chain restaurants and shops. It's a simple issue of variability - chains are less variable in quality than non-chains. So the best aren't as good but the worst aren't as bad. If (say) Starbucks replaced Ladbrokes it would be good, if it replaced the cafe on College Road whose name I have forgotten it would be bad, but if it replaced the Diner it would be bad and if it replaced one of those crappy corner shops it would be good.

Anonymous said...

Went to the Diner on Friday morning. There were only four people in the place but they managed to get our pancakes and bacon order wrong ("kitchen cooked the wrong thing" apparently). Those, plus 2x cups of tea for £21.85 is just too steep. Wished we'd have cooked. We didn't get a good vibe from the place and won't be going back.

Anonymous said...

What can i say
Slow service
Over priced tastless chain food
Dirty loo's
Bad choice in music
Will not be eating here again !

Lucky seven, Nott hill for a true burger !

Anonymous said...

Chamberlayne burger is great as is Gracelands. I had one at Gracelands yesterday an it rocked.

Anonymous said...

Have been to the Diner three times now since it opened. I think its fabulous and a great addition to this area. On the Starbucks question, I do think that the area around Chamberlayne off Kilburn Lane needs a good coffee shop. I walked around for an hour last Sunday looking for a place where I could get a latte, read, and work on my laptop... I almost ended up at the Sainsbury Cafe, but thought better of it. It doesn't necessarily have to be a Starbucks, because I do think its important to encourage local business, but there is def. a market for a quaint coffee shop with free wifi sooo someone open one up!!!!

Anonymous said...

What about Kandana? Gracelands is open on a Sunday and has t'internet but a bit out of your way.

Alimentari on Kilburn Lane (QP) end is lovely.

Anonymous said...

Kandana is where I ended up but they don't really have the type of seating I would want from a coffee shop, nor outlet to plug in my laptop, not sure if they have wireless.. plus they are more of a Deli then a cafe... not sure where Gracelands is.. and I'll have to go check out Alimentari... but I still that the strip of Chamberlayne Road next to Kilburn Lane up until Sainsbury needs a decent and cozy coffee shop (preferably one which stayed open late on weekends as it seems any cafes that do exist close at like 4pm!)... it would really add to the area :)

Matthew said...

I think the only one with seating is Gracelands, which is on College Road so a little further away than perhaps you would like. The best deli in the area is next door (that does to coffee, and I'd imagine good coffee, but it only has bar type seating).

Maybe the Paradise would be an adequate subsitute?

Tayo3000 said...

The Paradise is a good spot to work and to drink coffee. The reading room there has a nice vibe and the staff are much friendlier than they used to be. looking forward to checking out the Diner tho as well for food. What we really need is a nice lunchtime japanese joint tho...

Anonymous said...

alimentari is a cool place where to sip a nice coffee..their paninis are superb..good atmosphere, great staff..i just found out they even have a lovely back garden...

Anonymous said...

All these yuppies after coffee stores with free wifi!! Unbelievable. You want to go up the road with your laptop to sit and have an overpriced coffee while you browse a few e-mails on your laptop, which you could have done at home?

Anyway, The Diner is pretty tasty, good music, but a little dark considering it's meant to be 50s style... and the weird ceiling-lighting isn't very 50s, but the side lighting is - odd research. I like the framed photos and seating arrangements, except the tables are slightly thin - when you talk with someone and both are leaning on the table, it's a bit too close.

Food is good!

Drooper said...

We liked The Diner, does exactly what it says on the tin even if the burger wasn't nearly as good as the Chamberlayne. Always felt that the Greyhound had a bit of a rough edge anyway.

Anonymous said...

I visited once - never again. It has about as much charm and ambience as a Macdonalds, but 4 x the price. What a waste.

Anonymous said...

Went to the Diner yesterday as the cocktails were recommended but was very disappointed! The cocktails barely contained alcohol & were badly presented, not worth £7. the food was ok but I would have preferred to have a plate to eat from rather than a useless plastic basket. Luckily I wasn't on a first date as i don't think I would have made a good impression with guacomole & salsa all over my hands & face! I would not recommend this place to anyone over the age of 14 7 will not be going back there.

Eventually found a decent cocktail at the William IV on Harrow Road.