This year, Diner 77 celebrates its thirtieth birthday and while its classic American fare might not take the diner to another level of gastronomic delight, its chefs certainly cook up a darn good meal.
The single dining room smelt like a school cafeteria. Thirty years of chips have been cooked in this joint and despite a new lick of paint, there was an old-fashioned ambience. But now, in a time of frugality, when eating in is apparently the new eating out, I was surprised the waitress turned us away on a Tuesday evening because it was full to the rafters.
Nevertheless, 15 minutes later, I was seated and perusing its vast menu.
The burger itself was not as thick as some of the ones served in Diner 77’s gourmet rivals, but it sure tasted like beef and in true USA style, there was just a bit too much of everything.
Darn it, the barbecue burger was nearly drowned in sauce and the Mexican had beef chilli, guacamole and sour cream piled high.
The tuna steak, which was supposed to come in ciabatta bread, arrived in a toasted burger bun with no apology, but the tuna was well cooked and the waitress accommodated the demands of one fussy customer who didn’t want Cajun spices.
I won’t deny I was out to prove this classic diner was 10 times better than some of its UK-chain gourmet rivals, so was pleasantly surprised when it proved better value for money.
Deserts are normally the speciality of American diners, and when I ordered pancakes I expected a tall and tasty stack. But the pancakes seemed to be shop-bought and reheated. Similarly disappointing, the ice cream was bland and they did not have the listed bubblegum flavour. But it is difficult not to enjoy eating in a restaurant with staff as genuine as in Diner 77. I felt at ease to pig out in stereotypical USA style.
Pontcanna Street, Cardiff