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Diner / Marlow & Sons review (w/ pics) - wow, excellent american food in brooklyn and probably one of the best meals ive had in NYC

l
Lau Oct 3, 2009 08:43 AM

Diner / Marlow & Sons is obviously pretty well known and I've been meaning to come for a long time, but I have to admit that after I saw the Anthony Bourdain episode, I had to come b/c it looked so good. I also forget how close Williamsberg is to the LES where I live (literally a 5 min cab ride and close to me that most places in the city). So a few weeks ago, I decided to go with my GF and a good friend of mine.

Now Marlow & Sons and Diner are literally right next to each other and if you didn't know are owned by the same people who own local butcher shop Marlow & Daughters (down the street) where they source their meat from.

Even though there wasn't really a wait at Diner, we put our name down and said we wanted to grab some food at Marlow & Sons and the hostess was totally cool about it. We started at Marlow & Sons, which sort of looks like some old school grocery store, its all wood and had selves of things like honey. The back room is filled with tables. We sat upfront. They have a full dinner menu and seem to specialize in oysters. Here's what we got:
- oysters: wow these were really great, they were from the east coast although i'm totally blanking on where exactly they were from, but the were very fresh and briny...i mean its an oyster, so i dont know how much description i can go into, but they were really good put it that way. They came with a vinagrette sauce and cocktail sauce, i didn't try to the cocktail sauce (i think its too strong for oysters generally), but i did try the vinagrette sauce and it was excelltn
- corn niblets: this was a special of the day and omg were these good. this corn rivals cafe habana for best corn. The corn was corn into pieces and fried, sounds weird, but i honestly i wouldn't have even known it was fried if they didn't tell me, it wasn't greasy and didn't really taste fried at all. It had a parmesan herb sauce on it and we squeezed limes all over it, I can't tell you how good this dish was....wow

So after a few beers and some amazing appetizers, we walked next door to Diner, which is modeled after a diner car that has seating it in. We decided to eat outside since it was a nice out. The menu only has a burger on it, they change their menu daily and the waitress literally wrote the menu down on the table (paper table clothes). Here's what we got:
- beef carpacchio: this was the one disappointment of the night, the meat was fine, but the sauce they put on it tasted heavily of mayo and we all decided that it just tasted way too mayo-y (i hate mayo fyi)
- 1.5 lbs steak: this was so excellent, it was served on the bone, which I always love as i think the flavor of the meat around the bone is so good. The meat was really flavorful, I can't really explain it, but just had an awesome flavor to it and was super tender (ordered medium rare). The melt bone marrow butter on it, so the meat has this great rich flavor to it. It's steak, so again its somewhat self-explantory, but literally one of the best steaks ive had in the city.
- burger: another hit, just a super good burger, the meat was very flavorful, not overcooked and just a great burger, definitely one of the better burgers in NYC.
- fries: self-explantory, but really good, not super thin or super fat, but very fresh and crispy, not overly salted and just really great fries

Overall, an unbelievable meal. I really highly suggest, going here, one of the best meals ive had in a really long time.

Here's pics (I'm R.L. on yelp):
- corn niblets: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/G18cPTEjuxXx957dGYBDAQ?select=vC226IyC0L3YM0bGliMvQA
- oysters: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/G18cPTEjuxXx957dGYBDAQ?select=I8fX1oMmEpDO3Us8mq21cQ
- steak: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/l2u-IHL-rNz0uvn6-UC-Rw?select=-XmGn1ZMvnGmIyXqFFILqQ
- burger: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/l2u-IH...

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Marlow & Sons
81 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Diner
85 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

  1. lambretta76 Oct 3, 2009 10:09 AM

    Just a note, it isn't "modeled after a diner car", it is one:

    http://www.dinernyc.com/about.html

    "... and took over the lease of the 1920’s Kullman Diner car one block away from their home."

    I enjoy both places immensely, but haven't been to Diner in probably 7-8 years. At one point there were three diner cars open in Williamsburg - Diner, Relish, and Miss Williamsburg Diner. I think Ms. Williamsburg has since closed.

    4 Replies
    1. re: lambretta76
      q
      quentinC Oct 4, 2009 05:43 AM

      not only has miss williamsburg long closed, but the whole diner was gutted and now they park trucks there,,, sad

      1. re: quentinC
        b
        bhill Dec 10, 2009 03:53 PM

        Ms Williamsburg was destroyed in a fire. What a great spot in what used to be the middle of nowhere! Relish is a name I haven't heard in a while. Are they still in any good? Unlike Diner, I never heard anything about that place once I left the neighborhood.

        1. re: bhill
          c
          captainspacefood Dec 12, 2009 01:45 PM

          Relish is one of the most insane NYC dining experiences. The waitstaff is basically on quaaludes.

          1. re: captainspacefood
            CalJack Dec 12, 2009 02:04 PM

            Agreed - the complete disinterest in service coupled with the schizophrenic greasy-diner/seedy lounge atmosphere kills any interest I've ever had in the food at Relish, though some claim to like it well enough. It's twice the scene you'll find at Diner with none of the charm.

    2. a
      AimeeD Oct 4, 2009 12:44 PM

      Glad to hear you had a great meal!

      1. 2slices Oct 8, 2009 09:13 AM

        Lau,

        Diner for Brunch, go straight for the Pork and Grits with a fried egg. Knock your socks off good.

        5 Replies
        1. re: 2slices
          l
          Lau Oct 8, 2009 09:17 AM

          the waitress was telling me about brunch...def want to try

          1. re: 2slices
            k
            kathryn Dec 8, 2009 10:03 PM

            Is the wait typically short for brunch around, say, noon on a Sunday?

            1. re: kathryn
              CalJack Dec 11, 2009 08:49 PM

              I would expect a sizable (half hour or more) wait on a Sunday any time after 11:15 or so at Diner. I'm not sure whether Marlow offers a full brunch menu at this time - I know they've started doing a lunch menu in the last year that extends beyond the baked goods visible in their cafe/coffee area, but brunch is still uncharted territory for me. Diner's seating area and layout in general are both so cramped that a line tends to spill out onto the sidewalk during peak hours, and the current cold spell could well exacerbate the wait as the sidewalk patio tables are unlikely to be an option (you may be able to wait inside next door at Marlow).
              That said, brunch at Diner is as delicious as it is lively, with a handful of offerings (like the aforementioned pork & grits) that inevitably break just enough from the usual brunch mold to keep me coming back. It can be sneakily expensive though, especially when the servers neglect to offer any prices as they rattle off the daily specials.

              1. re: CalJack
                k
                kathryn Dec 13, 2009 01:00 PM

                Went for brunch at Diner today. Showed up at 12:15 with a party of four, with no wait time at all! Must have been the gray skies and rain. When we left there were definitely people waiting.

                My vanilla bourbon French Toast was great. Brioche, I think. Custardy and fluffy on the inside and sinfully rich--reminded me of the one in the Five Points cookbook. Excellent.

                My husband's country breakfast was also good too. Fluffy biscuits, sausage, gravy, eggs. Eggs were nicely seasoned, which you often don't find. He wiped his plate nearly clean and also enjoyed his Bloody Maria (it's also nice that they let you order a "big" size). I'd eat both of these again.

                Our friend ordered the burger which was great. The brioche bun got a little soggy from the juices, but the meat is fantastic! Cooked medium rare, well seasoned, full of flavor. Really nicely done -- I couldn't get over how much flavor was packed into the burger patty. (To compare, the burger I had a few weeks ago at Bill's Burger & Bar in the Meatpacking District might as well have been styrofoam.) Really liked the pickled red onions on top, too. Their fries were also excellent. A tad bit on the salty side, but they were also seasoned too. They were a bit thicker than I usually go for, but the mayo (wonderfully thick and goopy) and hot, fluffy insides made up for it.

                We also shared a market salad with mustard vinaigrette, sunchokes, bacon, which was also really good. Maybe just a little bit overdressed but I'd rather have that than underdressed. High quality in the mustard vinaigrette -- perfectly tangy. Smelled amazing, too.

                I think the only thing I wasn't impressed with was the cranberry scone with apple butter and lemon ricotta cream (or something). I was hoping it would be more buttery, like the scones they serve at Sarabeth's, as opposed to a more crumbly American style scone. This was good, not great. This was the only "eh" item.

                Everything else but the scone was good (especially the burger) and I'd come back here for brunch again!

                1. re: kathryn
                  l
                  Lau Dec 13, 2009 03:14 PM

                  glad you enjoyed and brunch sounds awesome, so ill have to go when i get back from the holidays

          2. j
            jinx Dec 12, 2009 03:52 AM

            Inspired by this post (and, I have to admit that Bourdin episode) as well as a craving for a big steak, we returned to Diner last night after an absence of at least five years or more. We used to go often, and I'm not sure why we stopped (I guess more varied/good choices closer to home--Park Slope/Windsor Terrace area.) I was celebrating a new job and so we splurged on the Porterhouse 1.5 lb for two ($65.) Wow, this was a darn great steak made all the more so by the slathering of marrow butter. Done perfectly medium rare. The fries were also excellent as was the accompanying simple bowl of spicy fresh arugula salad. We had started with a kale salad (with roasted parsnips, hazelnuts, dried cranberries) and we finished with a flourless chocolate cake with whipped creme fraiche. Everything was quite simply but perfectly prepared. I do think the steak was a bit overpriced for its size (we actually could have eaten more) but we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and remembered again what we liked so much about Diner. Friendly efficient service, funky cozy place, great music. And we didn't even feel out of place considering our decidedly non-hipster look and definitely being the oldest folks in the place, lol. We won't wait five years to return, that's for sure, although the porterhouse will have to be saved for very special occasions.

            It also occurred to us that with the long-ago demise of Mike & Tony's there is just no place to get a porterhouse or t-bone steak in our end of Brooklyn anymore (well, there is now Morton's, but eating in a hotel doesn't appeal to me.) Even Prime Meats--which we've yet to try-- only serves ribeye.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jinx
              l
              Lau Dec 12, 2009 07:06 PM

              great you enjoyed your meal.

              "Everything was quite simply but perfectly prepared" - i think that sums up part of what i really really like about Diner. My tastes have changed overtime and i have alot more respect for foods cooked well that don't rely on ridiculous amts of sauce or salt etc to cover up the poor execution and Diner does it very well.

              1. re: jinx
                c
                chewbie Feb 16, 2010 01:47 AM

                I know a lot of people on here have had negative experiences, but I found the porterhouse for 2 at Flatbush Farm to be very good and a decent value (considering the size, quality, etc.). Haven't been since summer but thought it was worth mentioning.

              2. ccferg Feb 4, 2012 05:31 PM

                Wow. Just had frog legs there on Wednesday night. Hadn't had them in years and always prepared in a garlic butter. I'm sorry I can't describe this better, but they were fabulous. Fried, crispy, and then plated in a lovely sauce. My only complaint was that it was served as a small plate ($16). I would have been happy to spend another $10 for a large dinner plate.

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                Diner
                85 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

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