Bad Meal at Diner
Soo...Diner in South Williamsburg has long been on my list of favorite restaurants in the 'burg. Thus I have been pretty bummed to have two disappointing meals there; the most recent one was on Saturday night. The specials also sounded quite good. I got the wild sockeye salmon cooked medium rare atop a sweet bean stew with greens and my husband got pork tenderloin with creamy polenta and roasted plums.
My entree started out good -- the salmon was cooked quite well and the bean stew was fresh and lively. However, the plate got saltier with every bite to the point where I couldn't finish it. My husband enjoyed the polenta, but the pork tenderloin was dry and flavorless, and so tough he couldn't saw through it with the serrated knife he provided. In addition, the roasted plums looked gorgeous but were so sour and bitter that they provided a nasty counterpoint to the polenta. Neither of us finished our meals. The waitress asked how everything was, and my husband said we found both dishes mediocre. I explained to her that my dish was quite salty, and she said they had been hearing that all night, and at the staff tasting, all the servers told the cooks it was too salty. Though apparently it didn't affect the preparation. She kindly comped us a flourless chocolate cake which was excellent.
My other big problem is that in the listing of the 10+ specials they write on the paper on the table, they don't list the price. Usually I ask, but I forgot this time. My salmon was $22 and the pork was $26 -- pretty outrageous, I thought and about $8 more than what I would have expected to pay given the preparation. The only entree listed on the printed menu is the burger for $12, and makes it really difficult to gauge what the price points will be.
Overall, we ended up with a combination of poor food and high prices...such a bad mix! Bummer!
I have to defend Diner a bit here. I don't know, I don't think the prices at Diner have increased due to trendiness. Keep in mind, the restaurant has been in business for almost 10 years, so. Their burgers were $10 when they started out. They also have never written prices on the table- they do however usually mention in the oral description if a dish is over $30 (ie: I was there Monday PM and the Ribeye was $35 which was pointed out to us without asking). Also, $25 for a special entree at Diner doesn't seem that outrageous to me.
Anyhow, all this aside, the consistency is not the same as it used to be at Diner. I have experienced this salt problem as well at Diner on occasion. One thing that is always good is the burger. Definitely the best in the neighborhood- in my opinion.
I try to support Diner because I believe their concept of good local ingredients when available and buying animals from reputable farms. I also like (most) of the servers/waitstaff and find them helpful and friendly. Everyone has an off night I guess. Hopefully they will improve. Next time, be sure to ask about $.
PS My Monday dinner at Diner, I had a burger (perfect as usual) and last week I had the chicken on heirloom tomatoes- which seemed odd to me, but was really good. Their tomatoes= delicious.
"They also have never written prices on the table- they do however usually mention in the oral description if a dish is over $30 (ie: I was there Monday PM and the Ribeye was $35 which was pointed out to us without asking). Also, $25 for a special entree at Diner doesn't seem that outrageous to me."
While I absolutely would agree that $25 for a great entree is not over the top, having to guess the price of an entree as being over or under $30 based on whether or not the price is quoted by the Server, just doesn't make any sense. Patrons should not have to ask the prices. Not having written prices is an annoying affectation.
That having been said, I agree that it's great that you support neighborhood. businesses. :-}
I've had so many great times and so much good to good-plus food there over the years....Once or twice in a blue moon (often on a Saturday), it has been off its game, though. Recently I returned after about a year away and was shocked by the changes in pricing. I used to enjoy the $16 ribeye, which had been replaced by a choice of three or four gigantic cuts of beef "for two" starting at about $75 and topping out at, I think, $120 (in fairness, that may have been "for three"). I couldn't believe my ears as the bartender gave me the rundown. Was back once since then; those steaks were gone, and the meal was on par with some of the best I've had there. It has certainly changed, though.
i wouldn't be that harsh on them. the meals i've had there have always been amazing (like the scallop wrapped in their home made pancetta... amazing!!) but the last time i went, it was definitely disappointing. i had their home made pastrami which i was very excited about, but it turned out to be dry beyond belief, sawing it like the OP's pork tenderloin. maybe if they served it thinly sliced instead of a huge steak-like slab, it would've been more tolerable. also, i agree with the OP about their pricing. we got the calf liver appetizer and while i can't remember how much it was, it was a LOT more expensive than the other appetizers and wouldn't have ordered it i had known the price.
i'm hoping they're reading this and amp up their performance. i really really love that restaurant and i hope they're just in a rut. i'm willing to give them another try.