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Diners (LONG)

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Diners (LONG)

David Pantol | Mar 26, 2002 09:28 AM

Hello fellow chow hounds! I have a question that has been bugging me for a while and I was hoping all you chow hounds out there could help me.
I live in one of the five boros of NYC. I have in-laws that live in another boro.
My question is, what is the attraction to diners?
I, personally, don't have a problem with an old fashioned "greasy spoon" for Breakfast and/or Lunch. You know, good pancakes/eggs/waffles and the like and good sandwiches/burgers/fries/meatloaf and the like. It's just that when we go out for dinner with the inlaws they shun the idea of dining at a restaurant and always suggest a local diner.
We dined at a nice little "happening" place for their anniversary and they were very disappointed that we chose this place. It was a nice table-clothed dining room, dimly lit and a wait staff that was friendly(if not exactly wellread on the menu).
I am a starch man at heart, but will enjoy a hunk of raw meat everynowandagain, as long as it is raw, as in black and blue, rare, red, juicy, MOO. My father-in-law enjoys only meat, preferably veal chop, "very well done" or the occasional romanian steak, again, very well done. No sauce, no flavorings, no garnish, no nothing else on the plate, at all. Even side dishes MUST be served in a monkey dish, diner style. Anything that will even remotely resemble moistness is reason enough for him to send it back and ask for it more well done. And, lest we forget, a monkey dish full of lemons for his chop or steak. This is to kill any bacteria/germs/whatever that might still have survived the burning, er, cooking process (and give a taste, of some sort, to the remaining protein left). At this nice little restaurant I decided, being their anniversary and all, to order a steak, as it was labeled "Black Angus" on the menu, just to join him in his carnivorous meal. He decided, this not being a diner, as he is accustomed to, and rebelling against it, to order the pasta, the one thing on a plate he despises. I enjoyed a well done steak (ordered rare, but it wasn't a really GREAT place) and he didn't bother finishing his "undercooked pasta"(where he comes from pasta is boiled for at least 20 minutes and not drained, but allowed to cool in the water and served BLOATED with DRY toppings. Gee, no wonder he doesn't like pasta, but will argue that it's worse to serve it "al dente". ) The wine selection was of an inexpensive bottle of white blah blah, ordered by me to accommodate his taste(or lack thereof) to white wine and pair it with *his* dish, not my steak. His comments were, "this tastes just like the house wine at the diner". His point being, why pay the price for a bottle when (to him) it tastes just like bag-in-the-box wine.
My point is, what is it about a diner that attracts so many people?
Perhaps my view of 'eating out', or 'dining out' differs from most people. I go out to dinner to enjoy what the CHEF has to offer, not asking him to substitute everything for what I want, I could have gone to a diner for that. Any dishwasher, er, cook can take what has been in the walk-in refrigerator/freezer for a few months and microwave or deep fry it to order and pair it with things that each individual likes. But it takes a CHEF to prepare a meal that does not need to be drowned in ketchup or salt or pepper.

To me a restaurant is a place that when an order is taken it is served 'as is', that is to say, if my plate of food needs any salt or pepper, the chef did not do his/her job.(period)
Every diner I walk into I have to drown my food in a pile of salt and pepper to extract anything that even remotely resembles flavor. So I just order a "hot open roast beef" with FF and a coke. At least the Roast beef that has been there for a month or so is drowned in a pile of "brown gravy", to hide any "taste" that this pile of....might have.
But it isn't just my in-laws, I have noticed, that go for dinner at a diner. These places PACK them in. Is it that people don't enjoy not having a choice of substituting everything for things that make no sense? Is it that people don't really know what cuisine is?(I have already answered that for myself) Or is it that at a diner you can get mass quantity despite the poor quality for a cheaper price?
Just a question. Thanks in advance for your replies.

Dave

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