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Brooklyn Diner: Fuhggedaboutit

I was on my way to Times Square and saw Brooklyn Diner on W. 43rd by Times Square. It looked clean, the staff was very friendly when I went in and they even helped me with the seating. This is why I'm confused. I knew it was a tourist trap just from the location and the name of the place. I've been to other tourist traps in NYC which were decent enough so why not try Brooklyn Diner. The owner/s obviously keep a tight reign on the appearance and performance of the restaurant and the staff so why is the food so bad?

I ordered the pigs in a blanket and crispy chicken salad with Gorgonzola and Black Forest ham and vinaigrette . The wrapped dogs were gross to say the least. They came out luke warm. The dough was greasy and cold and the meat was rubbery inside and out. The crispy chicken salad was this mosh of salty fried chicken chunks with chopped lettuce, tomato, some strips of meat I'm guessing was the ham and white chunky stuff I'm guessing was the cheese. Both of which were bland and like the hot dogs had a rubbery texture. The vinaigrettes tasted like pure Heinz Wood Vinegar. I'm talking real sour stuff. No hint of oil at all. The only good thing out of that meal was the bottle of Diet Stewart's Root Beer. These kinds of places really should be outlawed. It really is an embarrassment.

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  1. I am sure when the check came you were pretty pleased as well. Thats why they call it a tourist trap. When you are from Iowa, its not that bad. Just like food on a cruise.

    1. Yes and no. Like I tried to point out, usually with the bad tourist traps the restaurant shows that it doesn't care how they present themselves. They're hoping you spend for the name only. Brooklyn Diner, as bad as the food is, is very professional in it's cleanliness and staff behavior. I mean am I wrong? Are there other traps that go out of their way to keep their place clean and hire pro wait staff only for the food to be beneath dog food? I am asking this in all seriousness.

      1. My general rule is when eating in a place with "diner" in the name I only order "diner" food. It doesn't pay to get fancy. Anyway we had breakfast in the Brooklyn Diner on W57 St a while ago, but only because it was convenient at the time. Breakfast was pretty good but at that price we won't be making a habit of it.

        Reviewers have said to stick to the burgers or hot dogs when at the Brooklyn Diner.

        1. I've only eaten at Brooklyn Diner once, but my chicken soup was the best I'd ever had.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LindyHopper

            It really is the best. Nice use of dill.

          2. i went to the 57th St place (under diress) and i thought it was awful...

            1. I quite like the one on 57th Street. The burger is great. When it comes to the food, however, the term "Diner" is a misnomer when describing it. But good food at high prices.

              1. I work right near the one on 57th Street and every so often get roped into going for lunch. The food is usually pretty good, but it is just so overpriced and by no means a "diner" in the true sense of the word. The tuna sandwich is excellent as are the burgers and the other sandwiches that I've had. The last time I had a salad, it was a Greek salad with shrimp and it was like $20. I'm a big spender, but $20 for a salad with a few shrimp on it?

                1. What would be a good alternative in "diner" food then?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: sasicka

                    If you mean specific places, in my neighborhood we go to (or order in from) the Coopertown Diner on 20th & 1st. Or the Sunflower Diner on 26th & 2nd. When I lived on the UWS, we went to Westside Cafe on 69th & Broadway.

                    1. re: valerie

                      Sunflower diner is atrocious. The food is okay but the service is unbelievably bad. Not very clean either.

                      Mayrose is a pretty good diner.

                      A true, old school greasy spoon diner that I used to go to once in awhile when I worked down there, is the Pearl Street Diner. Talk about old school...sit at the counter and enjoy the spectacle.

                      1. re: valerie

                        Unless there's more than one Sunflower Diner, the one I know is on the corner of 26th & 3rd. In my view, the food is awful!

                        1. re: RGR

                          Yes, pardon me, Sunflower is on 26th & 3rd.

                          We don't go to a diner for gourmet food, we go for things like eggs, french toast and pancakes or sandwiches and salads (even in the NJ and Long Island diners where the menus are 42 pages long). And for that, in my view, Sunflower is fine. I never really thought of Mayrose as a "diner" in my definition of a diner.

                          As an aside, we also like Totonno's (which you have mentioned that you don't like) and I think that Bao Noodles is vile (which you have mentioned that you do like). So I suppose it really goes back to (as you like to say) "chacun a son gout".

                          1. re: valerie

                            When it comes to sandwiches, Sunflower does not make a decent BLT. In that, sadly, they are not alone. It's a problem I encounter at too many diners and coffee shops.

                            I certainly agree with you that nobody in their right mind goes to a diner for gourmet food.

                            Speaking of Bao Noodles, we hadn't been there in quite some time. We had lunch there again recently and, while I won't go so far as to say it was vile, some of the food was rather disappointing. So, my opinion can change when warranted.

                    2. The 57th sreet location is WAY better than the time times square location. They honestly have the best chinese chicken salad that ive had in my life. The place is always crazy and i find the food to be good. Although i do agree that its overpriced for what it is... i mean, what isnt in NY anyway?

                      1. "My general rule is when eating in a place with "diner" in the name I only order "diner" food. It doesn't pay to get fancy."

                        Adding the corollary that it often pays not to get fancy anywhere but a truly "fancy" restaurant, I couldn't agree with you more. I've eaten there a couple of times - got a burger once, some other kind of sandwich like a turkey club the other time. I thought it was actually pretty good by diner standards, but one peek at the menu is all you need to know it's distinctly overpriced (if you're from NYC anyway.) I definitely wouldn't recommend it without caveats, but by many measures, it's both better and nicer than the other diners I know of around there, if you don't mind the prices.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MikeG

                          No question, Brooklyn Diner is a nice place to eat. But when I'm looking for breakfast I check if the place has a "breakfast special" and did I just miss it. Believe it or not, years ago the best breakfast in Midtown was at the counter in Walgreen's Drug Store on the SE corner of 50 St and 6 Ave. right under the looming RCA Bldg. Now when I have breakfast out it's usually at Big Nick's on Broadway at 76 St.

                          For dinner we liked The Mansion Diner on York Ave at 86 Street but they just went through a huge makeover that took a long time. I hope the menu hasn't suffered.

                        2. I've been there once in order to try the 15-bite hot dog. It was good. That's what they're known for--they even have a little button to pin on your clothes if you order it. Stick to that and you won't be disappointed.