Landmark Diner (Charlotte, NC)

While traveling through Charlotte, my husband and I chose to stop at the Landmark Diner. It’s been on a Diners, Drive Ins and Dives so we figured it must be good. We got there around 7 pm, and the hostess told us there was a 25-minute wait. We were surprised but thought it must be good.

As we were waiting, the hostess rudely told multiple customers they needed to wait outside. Then she couldn’t remember or find the people she was looking for. For the 25 minutes we waited, we noticed multiple tables that weren’t being used and were perfectly clean. Needless to say, we started off on the wrong foot.

Atmosphere: C
The atmosphere of the Landmark Diner is outdated. They could use a makeover.

The outside has plenty of lighting and is easily spotted from the highway.

Service: F
I will preface this by saying our waitress was extremely friendly. She clearly had too many tables, but she took great care of us.

I can’t overlook how rude the hostess was. She threw our menus on the table, told guests they needed to wait outside and couldn’t care any less. Unforatetely, the hostess, is the first person we saw, and we watched her for close to half an hour.

The food in the kitchen also took almost an hour to come out. We saw multiple larger parties receive their food much quicker. By the time we received our food, we had been in the Landmark Diner for nearly 90 minutes.  With the exception of our actual waitress, it was by far one of the worst experiences I’ve had while dining out.

Coffee: A
The coffee at the Landmark Diner was good. There was nothing unusual about it, but it was often refilled and always warm.  It took a while to come out, but once it arrived, it was good.

Landmark diner charlotte

Food: C
After waiting about an hour for our food, I had no idea what to expect. The Landmark Diner has every stereotypical diner option you could imagine. I wanted to order the roasted leg of lamb, but they were out. I decided to go with their land and sea special. It came with 10 ounces of steak and shrimp.

The steak was good for a diner and seasoned well. Sometimes diner steak can be hit and miss.  The side of shrimp side was just as good. It was well seasoned with just a touch of old bay seasoning.

Landmark diner charlotte

The sides, however, were dry and stale. The sweet potatoes were doused in butter, and the French fries and onion rings were cold. Landmark diner charlotte

I liked the main entree but left the fries.

Dessert: B
While waiting to be seated, we had stared at the dessert for 30 minutes beforehand, and I knew I wanted the red velvet cake. We ordered the red velvet cake with vanilla ice cream. Like the mean, the main component (red velvet cake) was delicious. There was plenty of frosting, and the cake itself was moist. The ice cream, however, had freezer burn.

Landmark diner charlotte

Price: $$
For the coffee, meal, cake and ice cream the cost was $28.

Overall thoughts/Would I come back?
The food was decent but I was so turned off by the hostess attitude as well as the lengthy wait, I probably won’t be back.

Summary:
Atmosphere: C
Service: F
Coffee: C
Food: C
Dessert: B
Price: $15-25
Overall: C

Questions for you:
Have you ever had a rude hostess or be asked to wait outside?
What’s the longest you’ve waited at a restaurant?

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Sherban’s Diner

Last week, the owner of New Jersey and I met up at the Sherban Diner in South Plainfield.  We’ve both been to most of the diners in Somerset and Middlesex Counties, so Sherban’s was one of the few we haven’t been too.

We met up around 6 pm on a weekday. There were only a few people in the restaurant.

Her website, New Jersey Isn’t Boring, has opened my eyes to so many different things the state has to offer.  If you ever venture off of the turnpike, I highly suggest you check out her website.

Atmosphere: B
Sherban’s Diner has an older atmosphere too it.  Not in the traditional old dining car way but it is in an older building with an older design to it.  It was clean, and there was nothing bad about it, but it could use a remodel.  It reminded me of a casual “mom and pop” restaurant.

Sherban's Diner

Service: C
When we arrived at Sherban’s, there were only three other parties in the restaurant.  After waiting several minutes for a waitress to come over, a waitress asked if anyone had helped us.  We said no, and she said she guessed she would do it.  She didn’t come around often, and I felt as if I was begging for drink refills.  She also never asked if we wanted dessert and assumed we did not. It took another 10 minutes for dessert.

Coffee: B
There was nothing unique about the coffee flavor.  I did like the cute tea mugs they used.

Sherban's Diner

Food: C
When I arrived at Sherban’s Diner, I wasn’t that hungry.  They had several options.  I knew the “cucumber salad” was one of their signature dishes, so I ordered it, and honestly, there was nothing interesting about it.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t unique or interesting.

Sherbans Diner Cucumber salad

I also ordered the “famous” Greek Salad with chicken.  The salad didn’t come with anything unusual. I don’t know why the menu states it is as: famous.  It was one of the most boring salads I’ve had.  Plus, they didn’t give any pita bread with the salad.  It might be the first Greek salad without pita I’ve had. Sherban's Diner

I ordered the Greek bread as a side which was honestly my favorite part of the meal.  Sherban's Diner

Dessert: C
I ordered the Coconut cake as a dessert to go.  The actual cake was dry, but the whipped cream frosting was good.  The shredded coconut was overpowering.  The cake was decent but once again, it wasn’t that unusual.

Sherban's Diner

Sherban's Diner

Price: $$$
For my cucumber salad, Greek salad, bread, cake, and coffee the cost was $25.  Honestly, it wasn’t worth the price at all.  Something I found entertaining, is they charged 25 cents for a to go box.  Sherbans diner recipt

I’ve never been charged for a to go box before.  Was the price worth the meal? No.

Summary/Would I come back?
Sherbans Diner wasn’t anything to write home about. It wasn’t terrible, and everything was edible. However, it isn’t somewhere I would go out of my way to go too.  In fact, personally, I probably won’t be back.  You have to take the good with the bad, though.

I had a great time catching up which was the important part to begin with…You can see Cyd’s review here.

Summary:
Atmosphere: B
Coffee: B
Service: C
Food: C
Dessert: C

Overall:C
Questions for you:
Have you ever been charged for a to go box? 
Do you like coconut cake?

A Look at 100 Diners

Last week marked my 100th New Jersey Diner Review.  While I’ve been to diners in other states, New Jersey is the birthplace of the famous diners.  When I first moved to the Garden State, my goal became to go every diner before we moved.  Maybe I was bored or maybe it seemed like a good excuse not to cook.  Whatever the reason, over two years have passed and I’ve made it to 100 diners.

Maybe I was bored or maybe it seemed like a good excuse not to cook.  Whatever the reason, over two years have passed and I’ve made it to 100 diners.
With that, I decided to create the updated “Diner Paper Plate Awards.”

All Time Favorite Diner: Mastoris

Mastoris isn’t a typical diner.  It’s more of a modern and upscale restaurant, but I like their food and cake.

Least Favorite Diner: Garden State Diner, Ponzios or Stafford

Both diners had long waits as well as the food was a letdown.  Ponzios served me a salad with still frozen fish and canned pears.

Diner gone to the most times: Vincentown

I used to live closer to Vincentown.  Sadly, the quality of the food and service has gone down hill, so I haven’t been much at all.  I went from going three times a month to none.

Best cake: Mastoris (I wanted them to make my wedding cake, but they wouldn’t deliver).

Mastoris Cake
But which cake to get?

Top 5 Diners: 

Mastoris

Jefferson Diner

State Line Diner

Chit Chat Diner

Mustache Bills

Healthiest Diner: 

Silver Diner (it’s a chain, and there are a few across the east coast)

Best Coffee: Mastoris

Worst Coffee: Princetonian: they charge for refills!

Biggest portions: Tropicana: For $24, I received all of this food.  I had run 15 miles and still made a full meal out of leftovers.

tropicana diner

 

Best value: Elmer Diner (cinnamon roll)

Elmer Diner
The gem of the day

At the Elmer Diner: A Coffee, cinnamon bun, eggs, toast, and hashbrowns was $8.00.  You can’t beat that!

Most expensive: Vincentown: They charge 75 cents extra per coffee with whipped cream.  I’ve ordered a salad with salmon which costs $20+.  Every meal is going to be at least $18.

Best Decor: 

Chit Chat Diner: I love the black and white retro theme.

Tropicana Diner: It felt like a blast from the Carribean. 

Tropicana diner

So where does my diner journey go next?

For those who don’t know, there are over 300+ diners in New Jersey.  It has taken me over two years to get to 100.  I’ll continue working my way through the state.  As you can see, I’ve been to a lot of the South Jersey Diners.  Instead of being able to drive 5 minutes and try a new diner, I now have to drive 45+ minutes so the next year will be more challenging.

With that, I move to Chapter 2 of the Diner book and numbers 101-200.  Which diners should I go to next? 

Questions for you:
Have you been to any NJ diners? 
What is your all time favorite diner?

Weekly Happenings

As I mentioned, Tuesday was my husband and I’s anniversary.  We were lucky he was home and able to spend it together.

We went to a local seafood and steak restaurant called Giumarellos.  It was good food, but it wasn’t my favorite restaurant.  We’ve been to better, but we’ve also been to worse. It wasn’t about the food but celebrating our relationship.  Many people asked if we were going to celebrate at a diner…if only the first year “anniversary gift” was sugar.

Tim and I

Afterwards, we came home to enjoy our year old wedding cake.  To be honest, I have been looking forward to having our wedding cake since we got married last year.

blue velvet wedding cake

blue velvet wedding cake 1

We chose a “blue velvet cake”.  Red velvet cake is my favorite type of cake, but our wedding color was blue, so we had it dyed.  Honestly, it tasted delicious and I liked it as much the second time around.  I ate most, if not all, of the frosting that night.

From our wedding...
From our wedding…

Other than celebrating our anniversary last week, we haven’t been up to a whole heck of a lot.  I have a rare weekend off, and we will be continuing the celebrations.  It’s rare that both of us have the weekend off together.

Hopefully, everyone has a great weekend.  It’s finally supposed to be great weather, so I’m looking forward to that.  Finally, good luck to everyone running Boston on Monday.  It looks like good weather!

Posts from the week:
One Year of Marriage
How to Run with a Significant Other
29 Half Marathons Later

Questions for you:
Married Couples: How did you celebrate your first anniversary?
What is your favorite cake? 

Vincentown Diner (Revisited)

The Vincentown Diner was one of the very first diners; I  went to when we moved to the state.  It was also one of the first I reviewed.  Now nearly 2 years and 85 diners later, I decided to review it once more.  I’ve been to the Vincentown Diner over 30 times and tried many food menu items.  In the past few years, I’ve gotten to remember some of the staff and hosts.

Atmosphere: B
The atmosphere of Vincentown is modern and upscale.  It has more of a restaurant vibe than a diner.  It’s clean and polished.  The restaurant consists of a bar, multiple booths and a dimly lit second room which I assume is for larger parties.

Service: D
There are a couple of issues with the Vincentown Diner.  One is with service.  The servers always seem rude, standoffish or belittling.  If it was a one-time case, it wouldn’t be a big deal but I’ve been over 30 times and have found several occasions to be this way.  Last time, the waitresses were standing awkwardly behind us gossiping about who was dating who.

Coffee: B
The coffee is always piping hot because they use an expresso machine.  I like the coffee a lot, and it comes in a fairly large cup.  Interestingly enough, the Vincentown a Diner charges 75 cents for adding whipped cream.  It’s the only diner I’ve come across that does this.  The funny thing, the whipped cream they use is the off brand in a canister.  I’m pretty sure two refills pays for their entire can.  It’s an extra expense but they bring out an off brand canister and add it.

Vincentown coffee

Food: A
The big positive is, I’ve never had a bad meal at Vincentown.  The food is fresh and local, and I can appreciate that. Their menu is smaller than most diners and also features a seasonal menu.  Some of my favorite items have been on the seasonal menu.  While the food is good, the portions are normally smaller.

The last item I tried was the bacon wrapped tenderloin.  It came over mashed potatoes with corn and black beans.  It was really good, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I’ve had most things on their menu from salads, to pancakes, to eggs and their dinners.  My favorite tend to be the dinners and their seasonal specials.

Vincentown Sausage

Dessert: B
Similar to the menu, the Vincentown Diner is constantly changing their dessert menu.  This can be a problem, however, because many of my favorite desserts are only served for a month out of the year.  My favorite dessert is the red velvet cake.  The Vincentown red velvet cake has a hint of raspberry which makes it make unique from any red velvet cake I’ve had.

Vincentown Red Velvet cake

Cost: $$$
This is the most expensive diner I’ve been too thus far.  The food is local and fresh, but I do believe it’s overpriced.  Most menu items cost upwards of $20.  Most times I go to Vincentown, it costs upward of $30.

Overall thoughts/Would I come back?
I’ve been back several times, but I do wish their employees were more polite.  I do believe if their cost wasn’t so steep and the employees were more friendly, they might have won the best diner in NJ because the food is very good.  I don’t go nearly as often anymore (possibly once a month month) because of the lack of employee friendliness.

Atmosphere: B
Service: D
Coffee: B
Food: A
Dessert: B
Cost: $20+
Overall: B

Questions for you:
Do you have a favorite restaurant?
Has the employee friendliness ever stopped you from going to a restaurant? 

Jefferson Diner

Jefferson Diner

After running the Pregame 4 miler two weeks ago, my husband and I drove further north to the Jefferson Diner.  The Jefferson Diner has been on my “diner to do list” for months, and it’s much easier to justify a 20-minute drive versus two hours.  Plus who doesn’t love diner food after a race?

The Jefferson Diner has been featured on Food Network a few different times.  Most famously now, LOLZ blog.

Atmosphere: A
The Jefferson Diner is the end cap of a mini strip mall.  At first thought, it seems strange. However, it’s such a retro building, it sticks out and is hard to miss.

Image from their website
Image from their website

The inside is spacious, and you aren’t sitting on top of anyone.  I’ve come to realize that my restaurant pet peeve is dining on top of people.  I like to have space, and the Jefferson Diner had plenty.

We arrived around 1 pm on a Super Bowl Sunday, and it wasn’t busy.  It was awesome because I was starving.

Coffee: A
I can’t go to a diner without having coffee.  Believe it or not, I normally don’t have a lot of coffee in the afternoon.  I value my sleep too much.  The coffee at the Jefferson Diner was often refilled, and it was hot.  The waiter also continued to refill it and even added whipped cream.  I couldn’t ask for better coffee.

jefferson diner coffeeService: A

The waiter was excellent.  He made food recommendations and polite and friendly.

Food: A
The menu at the Jefferson Diner is huge.  To be honest, I was so hungry I didn’t take too much time looking at the menu,  I had looked at the menu when I first discovered the restaurant but hadn’t since.

I decided on the Hunters Platter with Sausage, scrambled eggs and chocolate chip pancakes.  It looked like far more than 3 eggs to me but I’m not complaining.  Everything about the food was delicious.  The pancakes were light and fluffy with plenty of chocolate chips.  There was nothing about my meal I didn’t like.

jefferson diner breakfast
Plus plenty of butter to make the world go round…

I walked by several tables, and I wanted to try everything.  I wish the Jefferson Diner wasn’t so far because the food was so good and there are plenty of beers on tap.

Dessert: A
I was going to take the dessert home but I didn’t want to be a risk taker and have melted cake.  I opted for the red velvet cake because that’s my favorite.  I’ve been to 89 diners in NJ now and honestly this red velvet might be the best.  The red velvet cake had a huge layer of cream cheese frosting and the inside was extremely fruity.

jefferson diner red velvet cake

The inside
All frosting

It was perfect.  I left nearly rolling out of the diner but luckily I could sit in my food coma for the 2-hour drive home.

Cost: $
Here is the kicker.  For the Hunters Platter, coffee, red velvet cake and ice cream it was $22.  That’s one of the best deals for the best food I’ve had.

Summary/Would I come back?
I wish I didn’t live 2 hours south from the Jefferson Diner because it’s one of my favorite.  When we are back in the area, I will be back.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Service: A
Food: A
Dessert: A
Cost: $10-15
Overall: A

Questions for you:
What is your favorite type of pancake and your favorite cake?
What time do you stop having coffee (if you are a coffee/caffeine drinker)?

Life, Articles and Cake

This week went by a lot faster than last week.  I haven’t done any life update posts for a while, but that’s because I’m boring. 

Something I common I hear about blogging is: I don’t live an exciting life that anyone cares…

Well, we both have something in common!  Believe me, I don’t have that exciting of life either!  I just run work, and try and go to diners.  I wish I had more free time to travel the world, but alas, you can’t do that if work.  So here I am boring but updating you on life.

My husband and I decided to get each other cakes this year for Valentines Day.  To be honest, it was the greatest decision ever.  Flowers die, I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, and I like cake.

valentines day cake

Blueberry velvet is my new local favorite
Blueberry Velvet is my new local favorite

We celebrated with an at home meal of squid and sea bass.  Squid is one of my favorite seafood.  It’s easy to prepare, as you can sautee it in oil like any other fish.  This is the recipe we used.  It’s easy and not intimidating.

Sea Bass and Squid
Sea Bass and Squid

We enjoyed relaxing at home as well as our cakes.  No, we did not eat it all in one sitting, but I can’t say there is much left nearly a week later either.

This week there has been a lot of excitement outside of blogging as well.  Olympic Trials?  Grammys?  Why is my husband researching Shamwows?

Olympic Trials: (Here is a quick overview)

Here are my two cents (Which obviously have little to no value since I’m just a spectator…)

Photo from here
Photo from here

Personally, I’m very happy all three women who made the Olympic team.  Would it have been different if Kastor had been healthy?  Or if the weather was a little bit cooler?  Possibly but each of the women who made the team has worked hard.

I do have a question left unanswered: Why didn’t the reporters give Sara Hall the respect she deserved? For a while, she was a contender but was left out most of the time.  

I wasn’t as familiar with the men’s side, so I won’t pretend to be too knowledgeable about it. 

Everyone knows Meb.  Everyone was distraught when Ritz was forced to drop out.

Am I surprised Rupp won?  Yes and no.  I don’t believe Salazar would have race his debut marathon if he didn’t think he would win. I do hope he remembered to wear sunscreen and that he does in Rio.  I haven’t seen any week later photos so see if he was sunburnt….

I seem to be the only person not as familiar with Jared Ward.

I had a few elites favorite a few of my tweets talking about them, so that was neat.  Twitter is nice like that…talk about someone (good/bad) and it calls back to haunt you.

I hope each athlete competing was clean, and I’m excited for the Olympics to play out and how each athlete trains in the next few months and does.  Winning the Trials doesn’t mean you’ll medal. I could dedicate multiple blog posts to geeking about this sort of stuff.

Finally, in case you missed any posts this week, here you go:
5 Ways to Love Yourself
Saucony Kinvara Review
Meal Favorites
How Blogging is Changed since 2010

That’s all I have this week.  Unlike last weekend, I’m looking forward to a beautiful weekend.

Questions for you:

Are you racing this weekend?

How was your week?