The Gateway Diner (Albany, NY)

A few weeks ago, I was driving through Albany, New York.  While driving through, we were hungry so a quick google search led us to the Gateway Diner.

Atmosphere: B
The outside of the Gateway Diner has lots of lights.  It resembles a space ship or disco club.

The inside looks like it could be updated and it honestly seems like it’s right out of the 90s. It wasn’t bad; it just needed an update.  It’s an unusual combination from the outside to the inside.  Disco club outside and very 1990s inside.

Coffee: C 
The coffee was luke warm at best.  The whipped cream stayed intact on top of the beverage and didn’t melt.  I like hot coffee.  One of the biggest ways for me to dislike coffee is if it’s not hot.  Coffee is made to be either hot or cold.The Gateway Diner

Service: C 
The hostess took our drink orders and then forgot to bring them back.  After asking the waitress for coffee twice, she brought the coffee out.  Most of the staff was very nice, just forgetful.  We also went extended periods without seeing anyone, which was surprising because there weren’t many parties in the diner. Throughout our entire meal, there was never more than three parties in the Gateway Diner.

Food: B
The Gateway Diner has several options but surprisingly, not a lot of breakfast options.  I decided to order the sirloin off the specials menu.  It was a thin steak that came with three sides.  I chose a soup, french fries, and beets.

I ordered the cream of corn chowder.  I’m not sure if I have ever had cream of corn chowder before then.  There was plenty of corn plus it was hot.  I wish my coffee had been that hot.The Gateway Diner

The steak was tough, but the broth made it good.  I hate to say the steak relied on the broth but I think without it, I would be dousing my meal with ketchup.  The beets were great.  I enjoyed the French fries as well.  They were crispy and not overly greasy.The Gateway Diner

Gateway Diner

Overall my meal was pretty typical of a diner.  It wasn’t a fancy 5-star restaurant but it was a good meal.

Price: $
For my entree and coffee, the cost was $15 which was a great deal for the amount of food I received.  It wasn’t the freshest, but there was a lot of food.

Summary/Would I come back? 
I liked the Gateway Diner, and it was a good meal.  The service was slow as well as lukewarm coffee but it was inexpensive, and there was plenty of food.  If I’m in the area again, I will go back.

Atmosphere: B
Coffee: C
Service: C
Food: B
Cost: $10-15
Overall: B
Questions for you:
Do you like beets? 
What temperature do you like your coffee?

The Black Horse Diner

Last weekend, my parents came up to visit.  During that time we decided to eat the Black Horse Diner in Mount Ephram.  I’ve been to almost all of the diners in Camden County so I’m typically weary of the ones I haven’t been too.

We arrived around noon on a weekday, and it was crowded.  Being crowded is always a good sign.  We were quickly seated, but by the time we left, there was a long wait. Rarely do you see a wait at any diner!

Atmosphere: B
The Black Horse Diner looks like it might have once been a fast food restaurant and remodeled.  It was clean and open.  The outside was cobblestone, and the inside had plenty of booths and tables.

Coffee: B
The coffee wasn’t good or bad.  The waitress did leave a pot at the table which was nice.  I don’t have anything bad to say about it, but there was nothing that stuck out either.

The Black Horse Diner mount ephraim

Service: B
The service was interesting.  While the diner was busy, our waitress was all over the place.  She was friendly, but everything was slow.  She took our orders slowly; the food was slow, and even just paying was slow.

Food: A
The food at the Black Horse Diner is a very traditional diner.  They have nothing unique or interesting but have everything a normal diner does: all day breakfast, seafood, steak and a few Greek specialties.

After eating junk and sugar all weekend, I opted for a Greek salad with salmon. To be honest, I thought the salad wouldn’t be overwhelmingly big.  I thought it would be a small diner salad.  When it arrived, it was one of the biggest salads I’ve ever received.  Even though I had run earlier in the day, I was stuffed afterwards.  The ingredients were fresh, and it had everything a standard Greek Salad should have including anchovies (my favorite).  The Greek dressing was good as well.  It’s one of the better Greek salads I’ve had.

The Black Horse Diner mount ephraim

To be honest, my favorite part was that the salad was served in a bowl that resembled an upside down lampshade.

The Black Horse Diner mount ephraim salad

Cost: $18
For my salad and coffee, the cost was $18.  For the portion size (normally enough for two people), that is a great value.

Overall thoughts/would I come back?
I enjoyed the Black Horse Diner and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of food.  It’s one of my favorite local diners. It seems like The Black Horse Diner follows the “how to be a diner rulebook” to a tee.  Not that there are many rules of dinering, but they had all day breakfast, are open 24 hours, have multiple booths and full-length bar.  The only thing missing is a bright metallic building.

Close by diners:
Metro Diner
The Club Diner
The Phily Diner

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

Questions for you:
What is the biggest restaurant salad you’ve received?

JumBars (Bethleham, PA)

While visiting for the Runners World Festival, my friends at the Super Secret Meeting recommended going to the JumBars in Bethlehem, PA.  On another note, if you haven’t watched any of the videos, Hannah and Ali are hilarious.

Atmosphere:
Jumbars is tiny but cute.  It’s not exactly a diner but more of a mom and pop shop in downtown Bethlehem.  Each of the tables has a slightly different tablecloth and different design.  It’s one of my favorite restaurant atmospheres because it’s quirky and fun.  It reminds me more of a coffee shop or cafe but shares a lot of characteristics of a diner too.

Coffee: F
I hate to give any restaurant or diner, a bad coffee review but the coffee was cold.  I actually didn’t finish the cup because it was cold and did nothing for me.

Jumbars coffee

Service: C
The service at the Jumbar wasn’t great either.  It wasn’t the worst, but the food took quite a long time to come out.  I think about 30 minutes the first time.  When I asked for something, the waitress forgot about it, so we had to ask someone else.  The waitress rarely came over…otherwise I would have asked for a different coffee.

Food: C
The menu is small. Jumbars is actually only open until 2 pm, so they don’t serve dinner.

I ordered the hummus appetizer as well as the beet salad with salmon.  I’ve been craving beets a lot more lately and the beet salad sounded good. Jumbars app

They forgot the salmon, and when I asked about it the waitress mentioned: “just don’t touch it and we can take it back”.  The salmon took another 15-20 minutes to come back.

Jumbars Salad

The food portion itself was small.  I liked the food a lot, but I wish I had more of it.  I was glad I ordered the hummus appetizer because it had a lot of flatbread and made it into a full meal.  The beet salad was more of the size of an appetizer than an entrée salad.  In summary, the food was good, however, the portions were tiny.

Cost: $$
For my salad, coffee, and hummus appetizer, the cost was $22.  The cost was high, and while the food was good, I wish I had more of it.

Overall/Would I come back?
I want to give the Jumbars a second chance because it does appear to be a local favorite.  I know now that the food portion isn’t big, so I’ll definitely keep that in mind.  I’m hoping I might have had a bad experience and I do hope to eventually go back and see.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Coffee: F
Service: C
Food: C
Cost: $12-20
Overall: C

Question for you: What is your favorite local restaurant?

 

Manny’s Diner

As you can tell, I’ve become great friends with the owner of the website: New Jersey Isn’t Boring.  We try and meet up 1-2 times per month at a diner neither of us has been too. That way we can catch up and review another diner.  Last month we went to the Jersey Diner in Delran.

It’s becoming more difficult to find diners because we’ve both been to so many.  The woes of dinering…

A couple of weeks ago, we met at Manny’s Diner in Clark, New Jersey.  There is another location in…When we arrived around 11:30, it was busy, and there were barely any parking spots left.  Luckily there was plenty of seating inside.

Atmosphere: B
The outside is clean, modern and well kept.  There is one of the longest ramps I’ve seen at a restaurant, and it nearly wraps around the entire building.  It wasn’t a stereotypical, shiny metallic building but it was clean and well kept.

The inside has several rooms that are centered around a room with a bar.  Out of every diner I’ve been too, Manny’s Diner had one of the biggest bars.

Coffee: A
Manny’s Diner serves Lacas coffee.  I’ve mentioned before, but Lacas is one of my favorite brews.  It’s South Jersey local and it’s hard to mess it up (except ).  The coffee at Manny’s was perfect.  It was hot and refilled frequently.

Manny's Diner Clark

Service: A
The service at Manny’s Diner was great.  The waiter refilled our drinks, brought out the food and was extremely friendly.  Even though it was busy, everything was prompt and efficient.

Food: B
The menu at Manny’s is huge. They specialize in seafood, but they have anything and everything you could want is a diner.  They have a lot of specials as well.  I decided to order their fried goat cheese salad off of the specials: “Power Baby Green Salads”.

Manny's Diner Clark

It came with soup, and I chose lentil. The lentil soup was homemade, and it was delicious.  It was hot and just what I was craving.

Manny's Diner Clark

The salad was excellent, but it was small.  The piece of salmon took up most of the salad.  It was one of the better salads I’ve had at a diner, but I could have used twice as much.

Manny's Diner Clark

Cost: $$
Manny’s Diner is on the pricier side.  Even though I ordered off the specials, the piece of salmon ended up being an extra $10.  For the salad, salmon, and coffee the cost was $20.

Summary/Would I come back?
I enjoyed Manny’s Diner and I would probably come back for dinner.  I would try one of their many dinner and seafood options.

Summary:
Atmosphere: B
Coffee: A
Service: A
Food: B
Cost: $10-20
Overall: A 

Questions for you:
Do you order off of the specials?
Do you like cheese?

Ivy Stone Diner, Bar and Grill

The Ivy Stone Diner in Iselin has been on my to-do list for a while.  As most people know, I like seafood a lot.  Growing up in Virginia Beach, you’re never far from seafood.  The Ivy Stone Diner and Lounge, claims to have the “the best seafood” around.

I met my friend, Christine, for lunch.  We arrived around noon, and there were only two other parties in the restaurant.

Atmosphere: B
The Ivy Stone Diner is having a major identity crisis.  Is it a diner? A nightclub? A bar? It’s a very fancy restaurant with minimal features that make it a diner.  It’s nice, but the ritzy chandelier or moonlit bathroom sink hardly classify it as a diner.

Ivy Stone Diner and Lounge
The moonlit bathroom sink

Service: C
It was clear the server was extremely new.  He was nice and refilled our beverages when we asked.  For only two other parties in the restaurant, the food came out very slowly. I felt like I’ve been to many other diners, much more crowded that the food came out quickly.  It was borderline slow for a buddy restaurant let alone a diner with three parties.

Coffee: B
The coffee was good.  It was brought out hot and fresh.  We had plenty of refills as well.Ivy Stone Diner and Lounge

Food: C
The Ivy Stone Diner has a small menu.  It more resembles a bar than a diner.  There aren’t a lot if breakfast options.  Since they are well known for their seafood, I ordered salmon and a Greek salad.  I was shocked when I tasted the salmon.

It was apparently frozen and reheated. It wasn’t terrible but the hardly quality I would label as “the best.”  The Greek salad was good, and I enjoyed the dressing.Ivy Stone Diner and Lounge

Price: $$
For my salmon, salad, coffee the cost was $21.  It was more on the pricy side for the quality of food and size.

Summary/Would I come back?
The Ivy Stone Diner is interesting and not the usual “diner.”  It’s not a bad stop, just a very ok restaurant.

Atmosphere: B
Service: C
Coffee: B
Food: C
Price: $12-20

Overall: C
Questions for you:
Do you like seafood?
Is your area known for anything?

Route 130 Diner

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Eric and I visited the Route 130 Diner in Delran.  Eric is a fast local runner who is a good friend.  We originally met through work, and he trains with some of my faster coworkers.

I’m always skeptical of diners that are within 20 minutes of my house that I haven’t been too.  At this point, I’ve been to most, if not all of the diners that have been recommended by friends.  I’ve steered clear of local diners that people have told me are not great.  I hadn’t heard much about the Route 130 Diner in Delran, so I didn’t know what to expect.

We arrived around 6 pm on a Friday, and it was packed.  It was one of the few diners that we even had to wait for a table.

Atmosphere: B
The Route 130 Diner layout reminds me of an Old Golden Corral.  It uses wooden side paneling as well as similar booths.  There is a bar and bakery case.  The bakery case caught my eye.

There are actually two entry doors to the restaurant, and it’s extremely confusing.  People come and go from both sides and then you don’t know where the line to be seated starts or ends.

Service: B
We waited for about 5 minutes for our waitress to acknowledge us but once she did, she brought over drinks and took our food.  I felt as though as I was always asking her for refills, but she was friendly.

Coffee: A
The coffee at the Route 130 Diner was great.  The waitress added lots of whipped cream (let’s be honest more whipped cream always wins).  Plus it was hot.  I have no complaints and it one of the better diner coffees I’ve had.

Route 130 diner Delran

Food: A
The menu for the Route 130 Diner isn’t posted online anywhere, so I had no idea what to expect.  They do have everything from breakfast to lunch to dinner.  I saw a table order a salad next to me and decided to go with the same one.

Route 130 diner Delran

Their house salad resembled a Greek Salad with a lot of cheese.  There was an entire layer of cheese, but I didn’t mind.  I think all entree salads should come with meat, cheese, and bread.  If not I will probably order some.

I ordered salmon, and it was extremely fresh.  I was pleasantly surprised with how large the portion was as well as the quality of the food.  Honestly, it was one of the best salad I’ve had at a restaurant in a while.

Dessert: C
I decided to order the German Chocolate Cake to take home.  The frosting of the cake was good. However, it tasted as if the cake had been sitting for quite some time.  The pieces of layer cake were hard and somewhat crusty.  It wasn’t the worst cake I’ve had but not the best either.  If I came back, I probably wouldn’t have ordered the cake.

Cost: $
For my coffee, salad, and cake the cost was $22.  That’s not too bad for the amount of food as well as the quality of the entree.

Summary/Would I come back?
I was pleasantly surprised with the Route 130 Diner in Delran.  It’s a great stop if you are heading North from Philadelphia or around the area.  It’s one of the better diners I’ve been too locally.

Closeby Diners: Jersey Diner, Golden Dawn Diner, and Dolphin Diner

Summary:
Atmosphere: C
Coffee: A
Service: B
Food: A
Dessert: C
Cost: $12-20
Overall: B

Questions for you:
Have you ever ordered something because you saw another table order it?
When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised at a restaurant? 

The Continental (Philadelphia)

Recently I went to the Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar in Philadelphia.

While it’s always 5 pm somewhere, it was a little early for a martini.  I’ve heard the restaurant and diner is delicious and in fact, it was ranked as having the biggest and best salads in Philadelphia.  So why not?

Atmosphere: A 
The Continental is a lot bigger than anticipated.  When looking inward, it looks like a 10 table restaurant.  However, when you get into the restaurant, you realize there are 3-4 rooms and two full bars.  It was surprising!  I love the inside, and it’s very classic diner.

The Continental Philadelphia

Service: B
The waitress was nice and made helpful recommendations.  She refilled our drinks when we asked.  It was strange because 3/4 of the meals came out at the same time, but my husband’s food came out 10 minutes later.  It would have been better if they had waited for all four meals.

Coffee: D
Sadly, this was some of the worst coffee I’ve had at a restaurant or diner.  The coffee was luke warm at best.  Honestly, I didn’t want a refill because it wasn’t great.

The Continental Philadelphia

Food: A
The menu at the Continental is small, but they focus on fancier food dishes.  As I mentioned, they are well known for their salads, so I decided to order the Continental salad which contained chicken.  The salad was one of the biggest portioned salads I’ve had, and all of the ingredients were fresh.

The Continental Philadelphia salad

I also ordered the octopus since I like octopus.  The octopus was cooked in olive oil and came with pita bread.  Octopus and pita bread…I couldn’t ask for a better combination.

The Continental Philadelphia

Cost: $$$

For my salad, octopus and coffee the cost was $33.  It’s pricer, but the food was fresh and worth it.

Overall summary/would I come back? 

I really enjoyed the Continental, and I’ll be back.  Next time I’ll skip the coffee but other than that, it’s a great diner/restaurant.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Coffee: D
Service: B
Food: A
Price: $20-30
Overall: B

Questions for you:
Have you ever been to a martini bar? 
Do you like octopus?