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Ridge Diner (Park Ridge)

Ridge Diner (Park Ridge)

Diner Number 200…

I’ve been waiting to reach this point for a couple of months now.  Once I reached about 175, I became increasingly excited to go with my 200th.  Why like anything it’s just a number.  For 100, I ended up at the Silver Coin Diner in Hammonton.

We were traveling back from Connecticut and the Ridge Diner in Park Ridge, NJ was right on the way.  A few people had mentioned it was a good diner so I decided to stop.  Maybe it was just an off day, but nothing about my experience there was pleasant.

Atmosphere: F
I arrived during the lunch hour, and almost every table, booth, and seat was taken.  Being busy is fine, and I have no issues waiting.  There was one table in the far back, and I was immediately sat there.  The problem was, the tables were far too close to each other, and upon sitting down, a waiter said I would need to “scoot in” for the meal because he couldn’t pass.  I don’t sit exceptionally far from tables, in fact, I sit rather close to things.  In order to be close enough, my body was sitting against the table.  During the entire meal, I felt as though as I was sharing a conversation, a meal, and time, with 3 other parties.

Coffee: B

The coffee was decent.  It wasn’t good or bad, but the waitress didn’t bring until the meal when I asked.

The Ridge Diner park ridge nj

Food: F
The menu for the Ridge Diner is impressive.  They have everything from breakfast to lunch, and dinner.  They have plenty of healthy options including salads and sandwiches.  I decided to order the steak and eggs.  I had a good experience at the previous diner, so had high hopes.

The Ridge Diner park ridge nj

The steak was one of the most rubbery pieces I’ve had.  The meal was small, and it when it came out, it didn’t even look appetizing.  When I went to eat the steak, it tasted as if it had burned residue from other meals and was cooked dirty grill.  It didn’t taste good.  I tried to find the positive, but it just wasn’t a good meal.  The food took so long to come out,  I didn’t have a lot of extra time to wait for a new meal.

The Ridge Diner park ridge nj

Service: D
The waitress was friendly which saved the entire service.  She was so busy, and the food took far too long to come out.

Cost: $
For my steak and eggs as well as coffee, it was $18 which was not worth it at all.  It was the worst restaurant steak I’ve had, and the portion didn’t merit the price either.

Overall thoughts/Would I Come back:
No.  It stinks to have a bad experience, but that is all about the journey.

Atmosphere: F
Coffee: B
Food: F
Service: D
Cost: $10-20
Overall: F

You can see all 200 Diner reviews here.

Questions for you:

Tell me about one of your worst dining experiences!

How do you like your steak cooked?

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The Boulevard Diner (North Bergen)

The Boulevard Diner (North Bergen)

After the Irish Festival 5k last month, I found myself hungry in North Bergen.  Going to diners on the weekend can be hit or miss regarding how busy they are, especially in North Bergen.  When I arrived around 11:00, every table but one was taken.  Perfect! By the time I left, around noon it was much less crowded.

Atmosphere: A
The Boulevard Diner is everything you expect in a diner. The outside is modern, while the inside has plenty of booths, tables, and a full-length bar.  There is also an alcohol bar which is more common in North Jersey than south.

The boulevard diner north bergen nj

Coffee: B
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh, and the waitress brought a few refills.  There was nothing to write home about, but it was good coffee.  Not that I should have drunk as much as I did since I was on a road trip.

The boulevard diner north bergen nj

Food: A
There is everything you can imagine at the Boulevard Diner.  There are plenty of breakfast options, as well as healthy lunch options, and of course dinners such as seafood and steak.  As usual, after a road race, I tend to be somewhat hungry.  I decided to order the steak and eggs.  Sometimes diner steak is awful, and sometimes it’s good.

Luckily this was not only good but the best diner steak I’ve personally had.  The portion for a breakfast steak was also huge!  It was cooked medium rare as requested with two over easy eggs.  It was definitely one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in a while.

The boulevard diner north bergen nj

Service: A
For how busy the Boulevard Diner was, our waitress was very attentive and friendly.  Our food came out extremely fast as well.

Price: $
For my steak and eggs and coffee, the cost was $18.

Overall Thoughts/ Would I Come Back?
I enjoyed the Boulevard Diner a lot, and it was definitely one of the better diners I’ve been too.

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

You can see all 199 diners here. 

The 200th NJ review and a look back at diners both come next week! 

Questions for you:
Do you have any questions, topics you would like to see in the Diner Awards post?  (like favorite breakfast, worse food, etc).  Let me know!
What is your favorite way to eat eggs?

 

Westampton Family Diner

Westampton Family Diner

I was back in Burlington County and was able to cross another diner off my checklist.  Longer time readers might know, but I used to live in Burlington.  Then we decided to move east towards Philadelphia.  The Westampton Family Diner was one of the last diners to cross off my Burlington Diner “list”…for now.

Atmosphere:  A
I wasn’t the diner to be so big.  It was a big restaurant building with plenty of booths, a full-length bar, and a dessert case.  For some reason, I had pictured it to be much smaller.westampton family diner mount holly nj

Coffee: B
The waitress brewed hot coffee, and it was good.  There was nothing unusual or unique about it, but it tasted good.

Westampton Family diner nj

Food: A
The Westampton Diner has a lot of choices, and the menu is massive.  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to have that many choices, and I had no idea what I wanted.  I’ve been back a couple of times since and my favorite was the steak and eggs.  My brother had ordered it the first time we went, and it looked good, so I decided to give it a shot the second time, and I’m happy I did.

Westampton Family diner nj

The portion size is huge.  The steak itself is roughly a pound, and with the over-easy eggs, it’s definitely a lot.  It also came with hashbrown and toast. I had run about 10 miles in the morning and was still full.

Service: A
Both times I’ve been, the service at the Westampton Diner was fast.  The waitress refilled our drinks quickly, and the food came out quickly.  On top of that, the waitress was extremely friendly always had a story to tell us when she returned to our table.

Cost: $
For the steak and eggs, and coffee, the cost was $15.  The portion size was massive.

Overall Summary/Would I Come Back?
I liked the Westampton Diner, and I’ll be back again.  It’s a fast, inexpensive diner.  It’s one of my favorite in that area!

Atmosphere: B
Coffee: B
Food: A
Service: A
Cost: $7-13
Overall: B

Nearby Diners I’ve been: Vincentown, Route 38, and Pandora

You can see all 168 diners here.

Questions for you:
Have you moved recently?
How do you like your eggs cooked?

Allwood Diner

The Allwood Diner is a diner I’ve wanted to go for a long time.

Why? Just on the name alone.  I had so many questions before going.  Is it all wood?  Is it a log cabin?  Eventually, I just googled the Allwood diner and realized the name came from the location, not the appearance. 

When I found myself in the area a few weeks ago, I decided to finally go eat at the Allwood Diner.

Atmosphere: B
To answer the question: Is the Allwood Diner, all wood? Unfortunately, no.  It does have plenty of wood paneling, but personally, I think it would be awesome if it were an “all wood” log cabin.  The diner itself is clean, modern, and matches the stereotype of a North Jersey diner.

allwood diner

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh ran time.  The bonus was it was all Lacas Coffee from South Jersey.  Lacas Coffee is my favorite, so it’s hard to beat that!  It was hot, fresh and with plenty of whipped cream.  So no complaints from me.

allwood diner coffee

Food: B
The Allwood Diner has everything you could want or need in a diner.  There are over 8 pages with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Something I’ve never ordered before is “pizza fries” so I decided to get a side of those as an appetizer.  The fries are topped with mozzarella as well as marinara sauce.  They were good but soggy.  I am happy I tried them but decided that perhaps they aren’t for me.  You don’t know until you try something.

allwood diner

For my entree, I ordered a steak sandwich which is different than a “Philly Cheesesteak” as it lacked cheese.  It was served on a large garlic roll.  I ordered my steak medium rare.  It was cooked as requested but I definitely could have used thicker steak.

allwood diner

In all, my meal was good.  It wasn’t anything to write home about, but I have no complaints and there was nothing bad either.

Service: A
We had a new server who was very friendly.  If it wasn’t his first day, it was his first week. What impressed me the most was when the waiter was confused, the manager came over to make sure everything was correct. The food came out in a blink of an eye, which is always ideal.

Cost: $
For my coffee, pizza fries, and steak sandwich the cost was $22.

Overall Thoughts:
I liked the Allwood Diner and had a pleasant experience there.  I do think I put higher expectations on it than it showed me but it was a good diner. I would come back next time in the area.

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

Nearby Diners I’ve been:

See all 165 diners I’ve been here.

Questions for you:
Have you had pizza fries before?
What I your favorite type of sandwich?

The Gateway Diner (Albany, NY)

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?

Meal Favorites

When I wrote my last post about food, I had no idea how the post would be perceived.  Since I no longer write much about food, you never know how readers might respond.  Everyone needs to eat, and food and nutrition are an important part of running and working out.

I thought it would be interesting to showcase some of my favorite foods and meal staples.  I’m not great at cooking, and I don’t shop at a lot of specialty stores.  Most of my shopping comes from the three closest grocery stores to me: Wegmans, Shoprite and Whole Foods. 

I shop at Wegmans and Shoprite for most of my groceries and Whole Foods for fish, steak, and some produce.

When someone asks your favorite food, I feel like it’s a weird question.  You can’t compare items like steak to donuts, both are delicious but it’s hard to compare.  I have a lot of favorite foods.  I like sugary treats, but I also like a big juicy steak too.

Favorite breakfast item:

Breakfast is easy for me.  I have a waffle with peanut butter.  I’ve been doing this for years, and it’s always worked for me.  I eat a waffle every morning, whether I’m running, racing or just resting.  I’ve never had a stomach issue.  I use Bisquick and just add water.  I also use flour, egg, baking powder and milk if I don’t have the mix.  I can usually run between 1-2 hours after eating.  I don’t like to run on an empty stomach.  I generally eat within 20 minutes of waking up, relax and then go for a run 1-2 hours later.

waffle1

Artsy waffle for you

Lunch:

Lunch depends on if I’m at home or if I’m at work.  Most people know I work at a local running store.  It’s hard to predict a day in a retail store and no two days are the same.  I can’t plan to bring a big meal because I might not have time to eat it.  I could have plenty of time, or I could be snacking the entire day.  I’ve become used to it, though, and I honestly don’t mind either way.

I usually pack easy to eat sandwiches or bars so that if we get slammed, I can still eat.  It’s not like I can tell a customer “Go away I’ve got to get my lunch on”.  I’ve been looking for an easy “bar” recipe if anyone has any.

Some quick and easy staples.  Sometimes quick and easy means I order down the road from work:

Power bars are one of my favorites, especially the cookie dough

Power bars are one of my favorites, especially the cookie dough

French toast bagels from Panera make their appearence often.

French toast bagels from Panera make their appearance often

Quick and easy salads

Quick and easy salads

I crave soup in the winter. My two favorites are split pea and lentil

I crave soup in the winter. My two favorite kinds of soup are split pea and lentil

I recently got a take out pita bead sandwich which has become one of my favorite lunch buys.

I recently got a takeout pita bread sandwich which has become one of my favorite lunch buys. It has pesto, chicken, and melted feta

Dinner:

I’ve said this more times than I can remember, but I am a very simple dinner person.  I like meat, potato and vegetable.  I rotate through all of them, but both my husband and I aren’t fancy cooks.  Our meals tend to take between 15-30 minutes to cook.  Luckily my husband is the same way.  He cooks the meat, and I prepare everything else.

Some of our favorite meats:

  • steak
  • salmon or any pink fish (we aren’t fans of too many white fish)
  • chicken
  • Squid (yes, one of my favorite, if not favorite meats is squid)
Steak and kale

Steak and kale (I love T-bone steaks because they are so fatty, anyone else?)

Another T-bone

Another T-bone

Sea Bass and Squid from the other night

Sea Bass and Squid from the other night

The usual suspects

We frequently cook some vegetable or have a salad.  My current favorite vegetables are eggplant and squash, but it varies.

Vegetables of (current) choice:

  • eggplant and squash
  • asparagus
Eggplant sauteed in oil and garlic is the easiest and most deliscious vegeatble

Eggplant sauteed in oil and garlic is the easiest and most delicious vegetable

Then, of course, there is the grain/potato portion of dinner.  Current favorites include

  • Pasta or rice (because it takes 5 minutes!)  I went through a phase with pasta where I didn’t eat it much and always chose other items over it.  Now I can’t get enough.
  • Sweet or normal potatoes
  • Bread from Panera. If you recall, my husband won a year supply of Panera bread from a race last year, and we use it to buy a loaf.  Panera bread goes well with everything in my life.
Pasta with spinach and cheese

Pasta with spinach and cheese

As you can see, my husband and I are simple eaters.  We don’t spend hours creating perfect food dishes.  Spending a few hours is some people’s hobby, but we know we like fast, simple and easy food!  We save fancy eating for going out.

Questions for you:

Do you prefer cooking simple food or fancier recipes?

Does anyone have any “bar” recipes? 

Eating on High Mileage

A lot of people question how I eat enough to withstand 100 mile weeks.  It couldn’t be possible to ever gain weight while running 100 mile weeks and you couldn’t possibly eat enough to withstand that activity…ect. 

First and foremost, I only ran 100 mile week.  I didn’t run 52 but rather just 1.  That was my peak week and most of my other weeks were between 60-80.  Most not all.  As much as I want to credit myself to running multiple 100 mile weeks, I know I would just get injured running several in a row.  (or more then 1).

I’ve rambled about this a few times but blogging nutrition and real life nutrition is not the same thing.  I feel bad for certified dieticians and nutritionists that also blog.  They get mixed in with other bloggers whose research involves personal research and study which is not the same as being certified.  Point blank: it’s not.  I’ve taken plenty of nutrition classes but don’t know nearly enough as someone who has studied and has their undergraduate, masters, or even PhD.  I can tell you what has worked for me but that is no way telling what will work for you or that is right or wrong.

The majority of healthy living blogs focus on getting enough vegetables, fiber and more vegetables into their diet.  If I ate half the amount of vegetables that some people do, I would be able to run 1 mile…maybe 2 with deciding it was time to go home.

When you run high mileage and exercise you must learn that you have to eat a lot of foods that aren’t high in fiber.  You must eat food that is still healthy but you can’t eat 3000 calories worth of broccoli.  You also can’t eat 3000 calories worth of ice cream.  Both will result in you not feeling great for a run.

A typical day for me looks something like this right now:

Breakfast: 400-500 calories

Coffee+cream (100-200 calories…my vice).

Some of my breakfast choices lately have been: Bagel and peanut butter, egg sandwich, eggs and toast, waffle with Greek yogurt or peanut butter.

A standard waffle with peanut butter and yogurt has been my go to before races right now and I think I’ll stay to that before the marathon (as well as a bagel with peanut butter while waiting around beforehand).  My standard race day nutrition used to be a bagel with peanut butter and yogurt but I had stomach cramps a few races back and it was enough to change my mind.

Raspberry pancakes make me happy

Raspberry pancakes make me happy

Bagel+peanut butter+yogurt also make me happy

Bagel+peanut butter+yogurt also make me happy

 

French toast bagels are my favorite (panera or wegmans FYI)

French toast bagels are my favorite (panera or wegmans FYI)

Run

Lunch (within an hour of running) 500-800 calories

I’ve been having a lot egg sandwiches lately.  Eggs, avocado and cheddar cheese on a bagel.  I really just have whatever is in the fridge.  It could be a sandwich, soup or salad.  I don’t have a standard post run meal or lunch. I normally just like to eat what is in the fridge.

Sometimes I’ll go to the gym in between, sometimes I won’t.   (now that I’m tapering, I don’t).

egg and ham sandwich

egg and ham sandwich

lentil soup (this cold has got me craving it)

lentil soup (this cold has got me craving it)

Soup with parm cheese so good

Soup with parm cheese so good

Random salad I attempted to make restaurant worthy...they never are as to why I try and eat salads at restaurants more.

Random salad I attempted to make restaurant worthy…they never are as to why I try and eat salads at restaurants more.

 

Snack: 200-300 calories

I consume a lot of yogurt

I consume a lot of yogurt

No really...

No really…’

Baked apples are good (especially in the cold)

Baked apples are good (especially in the cold)

I also eat bars on the go...snickers marathon bars are really good

I also eat bars on the go…snickers marathon bars are really good

I normally have a snack sometime in the middle of the day.   I’ve been enjoying apples and peanut butter lately but that is only because apples have been so cheap at stores.   I also have left overs if they are in the fridge.

Dinner: 800-1200

As if anything else is planned, my dinner is the least planned and changes daily.  I am such a meat and potatoes kind of person.  I’ll have a serving of meat (steak and fish being my favorite), some sort of vegetables (cooked kale, brussel sprouts and spaghetti squash are my current favorites) and some sort of grain.  I’ve been better about eating a carbohydrate such as bread or race.  I’m actually not a big pasta fan (I don’t like the consistency) so I tend to eat more rice and bread.

steak and potatoes

steak and potatoes

ham and potatoes (and apples)

ham and potatoes (and apples)

Sweet Potato+Salmon+mushrooms (I'm so different)

Sweet Potato+Salmon+mushrooms (I’m so different)

I normally like to make a smoothie at night with a cup of milk and protein powder.  I have a big sweet tooth so often times I’ll just have ice cream.  I don’t really schedule a treat at night but if I’m craving something I’ll have something.   Whatever I’m craving I generally have at night.  I go to bed around 9-10 personally.

ice cream

ice cream

ice cream, cherries and whip cream

ice cream, cherries and whip cream

Protein shake

Protein shake

hot cocoa and whip cream

hot cocoa and whip cream

—–

I know this is very vague but it’s how I eat.  I don’t worry or stress about food or getting my vegetables daily.  As much as I say I want to meal plan, I don’t. If I eat too many vegetables then I don’t feel good running.  I don’t know how people eat so many vegetables (honestly).  I do strive to get vegetables but not overboard.  I try and get enough protein, carbohydrates and fat but I don’t track it and it doesn’t ruin my day.  I found the less I stress about food the easier it is.  I’ve never had a problem getting enough food and have never lost weight during a training cycle.

I will say I’m hoping to do a carbohydrate deplete and then carb load during my final week of taper.

Questions for you:

What does a typical day for you look like?

Do you plan your food weekly or eat when you are hungry? 

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