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Victoria Diner -- wow, just wow!

yumyum Feb 14, 2011 09:15 AM

And not in a good way.

Tried the eggs benedict this weekend. I have never, ever had something quite like it. I wasn't expecting to be blown away, but they do have several different versions of Benny on the menu so I reckoned they probably knew their way around the dish. Boy was I wrong -- the hollandaise was basically a thin chicken gravy. I'm not kidding. My hunch is they have two big vats of Sysco sauce in the back -- one brown, one beige. They used the beige one for my benedict and it was beyond the nasty. Not only that but the muffin was soggy, the ham was basically luncheon meat, and the home fries were terrible. To their credit, the eggs were poached nicely. But I couldn't get over the gravydaise and had to leave 3/4 of the plate untouched.

Friend's corned beef hash was a very close cousin of Fancy Feast.

Yet, the place was packed. So I gotta axe: what's the deal with the Victoria Diner? Is it basically 3 a.m. or hang-over food? Or is there something I'm missing? I don't think I'll go back but am genuinely curious what fans see in this place. It can't be the food.

I've posted a picture of the travesty. I really wish you could taste it, but I like you too much to subject you to that.

-----
Victoria Diner
1024 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02118

 
  1. Bob Dobalina Feb 14, 2011 10:38 AM

    I think you might be spoiled by Somerville breakfasts.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob Dobalina
      yumyum Feb 14, 2011 10:51 AM

      You may be right. My quest for eggs benedict knows no geographical boundaries. But I haven't found better than the Eggs Bene at Soundbites (so far!)

    2. MC Slim JB Feb 14, 2011 10:41 AM

      I liked it a lot better when it was owned by Mike's City Diner, with essentially the same menu. I find it's okay for less ambitious dishes (eggs and bacon) when I'm out making a South Bay / Newmarket run, but I don't go nearly as often as I used to, especially with Speed's occasionally operating on weekends. It is a rare way-late-night option on Fri-Sat, but if I'm out that late, I'm not driving, so I don't get over there.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      -----
      Mike's City Diner
      1714 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

      1 Reply
      1. re: MC Slim JB
        j
        Jenny Ondioline Feb 14, 2011 01:52 PM

        I'm with Slim, I would never ever ever get anything more elaborate at Victoria's than over easy, sausage, hashbrowns, toast and coffee. I wouldn't even order scrambled there. But if you're looking for a cheap diner breakfast on your way south (if memory serves, we were gearing up for a Wrentham assault last time I ate there), you could do worse.

      2. Nab Feb 14, 2011 11:12 AM

        I will note the $3 upcharge for a side of beef sausage salvaged the entire plate. Butterflied and slapped on the griddle for a good crispy char that, once pierced, sprays beef-fat around a 3-table radius like a sawed-off.

        I know not the history of the Victoria, but the whole thing felt like a sham. Requisite James Dean and Elvis pics on the wall, 50s music a-playin', booths for the sake of booths that were not even real diner booths nor booths that any person could fit into, a kitchen you can't see, all the classic plates done poorly and $5 too much ... at least they have the 40-yr old veteran waitress thing going. Kinda Disney-ish, though.

         
        1 Reply
        1. re: Nab
          MC Slim JB Feb 14, 2011 11:53 AM

          Many of those veteran waitresses have been there over several changes of ownership dating back to the Seventies. It has had four different owners just in the 10 years I have been going. Mike's was clearly the high-water mark for diner food there.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        2. g
          gourmaniac Feb 14, 2011 12:20 PM

          Man, that is nasty. i went there once and found it overpriced, phony and blah but not quite so awful. I recall a small diner nearby (Liberty?) which was nothing special but OK breakfast, much cheaper and real.

          6 Replies
          1. re: gourmaniac
            yumyum Feb 14, 2011 01:13 PM

            I think I drove by the Liberty when burning rubber out of Victoria's lot. All boarded up now. Shame.

            1. re: yumyum
              Prav Feb 15, 2011 07:12 AM

              You mean burning clutch? oh wait, that's me.

            2. re: gourmaniac
              MC Slim JB Feb 14, 2011 01:43 PM

              I didn't notice that the Liberty had closed! I actually had breakfast there three or so years ago, thinking I might review it for the Phoenix. But it turned out to be the Diner of the Damned: it had windows, but seemed windowless, and was filthy and full of marginal characters with very busy pagers and mobile phones, drinking Bud longnecks with their breakfasts at 9am on a weekday. I thought, "If you were contemplating suicide, this place just might push you over the edge."

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              1. re: MC Slim JB
                g
                gourmaniac Feb 15, 2011 05:00 AM

                Well put. Maybe it was that dark Elmore Leonard feel that i found appealing. I guess I was there a long time ago and recall mostly Newmarket Square truckers and such.

                1. re: MC Slim JB
                  MC Slim JB Feb 15, 2011 06:49 AM

                  I was thinking more Jim Thompson. The food wasn't awful, just supermarket Pullman toast with oleo level cheapness. But the ambiance was profoundly grim: flourescent lights, worn formica, ruined linoleum, trampled dreams.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                    Nab Feb 15, 2011 06:57 AM

                    Y'know, next time you do a drive-by, please confirm that the place has actually closed down, as its hard to telll from the, ah, ... ambiance. Could very well be "thriving" for all I could tell !

              2. Niblet Feb 14, 2011 12:47 PM

                Oh nonono. A quick and timely deployment via "More photos from yumyum" to the recent burger pic settled the queasiness.

                1. Karl S Feb 14, 2011 02:55 PM

                  That may explain the facsimile of CB hash I had there recently. At one time, it was good, but I've not been in a long while, and even longer since I had that. It had virtually no crust, and was barely cooked through, and not well enough for proper CB hash (the tiny cubes of potato were still relatively uniform - which is a sign of CB hash fail). It was sad considering what used to be. (The eggs were poached nicely, I should hasten to add.) And the place was not busy, so it's not a matter of a rush job.

                  1. b
                    bear Feb 15, 2011 04:12 PM

                    My condolences on your experience, yumyum. Few things in a restaurant turn me off more than that awful reconstituted (probably Knorr's) hollandaise. It doesn't taste anything like the real thing, and yet so many places use it. It really does taste like artificial chicken-flavored gravy. There is none of the lemony tang and wonderful texture of the classic sauce.

                    I imagine that it's tough for a small place to keep something as perishable and difficult to keep emulsified as hollandaise, but if ya ain't gonna do it right, don't put it on the menu! I've learned to be obnoxious and ask if it is house-made before I order it, but that hasn't always helped me to avoid getting the fake stuff.

                    I haven't been to Soundbites in quite a while, but agree that they do a nice version. I've also enjoyed the sauce at Henrietta's (Saturday breakfast, not brunch), at North 26 and at the South End Buttery. I often ask for a little extra on the side. Caffe Nuovo, a new place in the North End, also makes their own and it's good but more vinegar-based than lemon. (By the way, my husband loves their usda prime tenderloin with scali toast, homefries, two eggs and a ramekin of the sauce for $14.95. Perfectly med-rare every time he's ordered it. A good value.)

                    -----
                    South End Buttery
                    314 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, MA 02118

                    North 26 Restaurant & Bar
                    26 North Street, Boston, MA 02109

                    Caffe Nuovo
                    76 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113

                    21 Replies
                    1. re: bear
                      Nab Feb 15, 2011 06:30 PM

                      bear, THANK YOU for chiming in. Gosh, I'm surprised more folks haven't chimed in with their bewilderment. I was absolutely spellbound by this sauce ... your comments make me wonder if it's common practice to use reconstituted Knorr's gravy sachets in place of a sauce from another planet (hollandaise) ..... is this true ???? Is this really the case that many places use powder CHICKEN GRAVY for hollandaise ?? I walked outta there convinced that either A) that was a fluke, or B) they just happen to pull that shenanigan at Victoria's and only at Victoria's (ie, it musta been "by design") and everybody was in on the joke. I thought this was one of the more amusing and fascinating restaurant experiences I've had and yet the thread makes me think it might not be out of the ordinary. WTF. Please tell me y'all don't experience this on a regular basis. I've been telling everybody I encounter - on the T, in the restroom, in the cashout line at WF - about this experience. This is not normal man !

                      1. re: Nab
                        Nab Feb 16, 2011 09:51 AM

                        Upon further investigation, I've concluded that it's just me that thinks this is the craziest thing I've heard of in the last decade.

                        I've lost my marbles and need to make an appointment with the shrinkinakitchen.com immediately !

                        1. re: Nab
                          j
                          Jenny Ondioline Feb 16, 2011 09:53 AM

                          I guess I don't think it's crazy simply because I totally wouldn't expect a place like Victoria to make an even passable eggs benedict, even if it IS on the menu.

                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                            Nab Feb 16, 2011 09:57 AM

                            Neither would I, nor do I expect 90% of breakfast joints in the city to, but that's not what is driving me insane. It's the use of CHICKEN GRAVY in place of a hollandaise !!!! This is what I have lost sleep over. This is why I need to call a shrinkinthekitchen.com.

                            1. re: Nab
                              j
                              Jenny Ondioline Feb 16, 2011 10:09 AM

                              But that's what I mean: I wouldn't expect a place like Victoria--where I'm not sure they even offer real butter with the toast--to do anything even approaching a hollandaise, and therefore finding out that it's just Sysco chicken gravy wouldn't be a shock to the system. If anything, that they bothered to color it yellow is more of a surprise!

                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                Nab Feb 16, 2011 10:27 AM

                                Some would argue that Whirl is a reasonable facsimile for butter. Commonly used on the flattop in the diner setting. Pats of margarine on toast, also not an uncommon facsimile for butter. Chicken gravy is WORLDS apart from a hollandaise ! I have got to believe there are a million "butter-lemon" flavoured yellow sauces out there that one would use before ladling CHICKEN GRAVY on top of eggs ! Chicken gravy does not even remotely come close to tasting like hollandaise, and if it wasn't for the yellow colouring, it would bear no resemblance at all ! Please, Jenny. You're my last hope. Please tell me you at least can see what I'm saying. Please. I am standing outside Mclean until I hear back from you.

                                1. re: Nab
                                  Prav Feb 16, 2011 10:43 AM

                                  They're coming to take me away, he he, ha ha,
                                  To the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time

                                  1. re: Nab
                                    StriperGuy Feb 16, 2011 11:04 AM

                                    I live a mile from Mclean, I'll come visit!

                                    And wait til you try my semi-home-made Fauxlandaise, it's DELISH!

                                    1. re: StriperGuy
                                      Nab Feb 16, 2011 11:29 AM

                                      Bring some Shangri La, Golden Garden, and your wife's pasta !!

                                      -----
                                      Golden Garden
                                      63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

                                      1. re: Nab
                                        StriperGuy Feb 16, 2011 11:31 AM

                                        She made me gnocchi for valentines...

                            2. re: Nab
                              StriperGuy Feb 16, 2011 10:15 AM

                              That's how I make hollandaise: Cambell's Chicken Gravy, Margarine, and that lemon juice that come's inside a little plastic lemon shaped thingie... DELISH!

                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                MC Slim JB Feb 16, 2011 03:45 PM

                                I believe the proper response to that recipe is, "Yum-O!"

                                I'm thinking that it's unrealistic to expect a proper Hollandaise in many settings below the fine dining level. It would be an interesting survey question: which breakfast places in town do a proper butter-and-yolk-emulsion sauce, instead of some debased approximation?

                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                  okra Apr 4, 2011 06:00 AM

                                  Signs up for this database....

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                    d
                                    devilham Aug 7, 2011 10:27 AM

                                    I worked the breakfast shift for 6 years in a fine dining establishment, and then later (at the sunset of my cooking career) at a pub (Sunday brunch only), and made hollandaise from scratch every morning...it's just not that hard to make or keep, and is actually cost effective since many people ask for egg white omelets and scrambled eggs, you use the whites of the egg for that, and then take the separated yokes to make your hollandaise. Fifteen eggs did the trick for most mornings, kept all morning long, and tasted far superior to the knorr crap....I worked in a hotel, but in an independent restaurant inside the hotel, and the hotel kitchen used that stuff....kind of blew my mind, since making your own was so easy....go figure.

                              2. re: Nab
                                galleygirl Apr 6, 2011 05:20 PM

                                Ya know, I finally read this thread, and I have to say, I'm inclined to think it's a Sysco manifestation, because Knorr Hollandaise is actually the correct lemony yellow color, and tastes, surprisingly, like Hollandaise (to those who don't get it too frequently). I was forced to use this subterfuge during my days as a galleygirl...Just sayin'....

                                1. re: galleygirl
                                  MC Slim JB Apr 6, 2011 05:33 PM

                                  Among soup and sauce mixes that come from an envelope, Knorr's isn't always terrible, but the ingredient list on their Hollandaise is terrifying: Modified Corn Starch, Maltodextrin, Wheat Starch, Whey Protein Concentrate (Milk), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Lactose, Corn Starch, Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten, Salt, Fructose, Citric Acid, Onion Powder, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Guar Gum, Spices (Including Paprika), Turmeric (For Color), Caramel Color, Natural Flavor, Garlic Powder, Dextrose.

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                    galleygirl Apr 7, 2011 07:29 AM

                                    Oh yeah, I didn't say it was good for you, I just said it tasted more like Hollandaise than chicken gravy..Those ingredient lists are in line with a lot of stuff that restaurants serve from Sysco and US Foodservice, as I'm sure you know. Actually, they've got a lot in common with the majority of the things you can buy in the grocery store. We probably live a rarified life of people who read labels and chose not to eat those things, but out in the real world, we're a minority....I personally can't eat Knorr soups, because I actually have allergic reactions to them, and I'm not allergic to ANYTHING....

                                  2. re: galleygirl
                                    yumyum Apr 7, 2011 07:45 AM

                                    Yeah GG -- Knorr Hollandaise isn't nearly as bad as this dreck was. I've used it myself.

                                2. re: bear
                                  yumyum Feb 16, 2011 09:56 AM

                                  Thanks bear! But I need to really drive this point home: the gravydaise wasn't even as good as Knorr in a packet. That at least is *trying* to be hollandaise. This was literally chicken gravy with some yellow food coloring and not a hint of lemon or butter to it.

                                  It was astounding.

                                  1. re: yumyum
                                    b
                                    bear Feb 16, 2011 03:26 PM

                                    Nab and yumyum, I'll totally with you on this. I swear I've had chicken-flavored hollandaise at several otherwise passable places, but I've never seen a travesty the magnitude of your "breakfast".

                                    I'm guessing they took something like the stuff in the following links and used chicken bouillon to reconstitute it. Totally gross.

                                    Wow, this one makes ten liters of sauce!
                                    http://www.amazon.com/HOLLANDAISE-dehydrated-sauce-powder-29-98/dp/B000BR6YW0

                                    http://www.echonyc.com/~jkarpf/eggs/r... (scroll down to the end for a short review)

                                    1. re: bear
                                      KilgoreTrout Aug 5, 2011 02:08 PM

                                      Here is a fun quote from the product description on Amazon
                                      (very hygroscopic product) - Well close the box after using - Do not storage on the floor. Note : Product very hygroscopic and sensible about heat choc. An aglomeration is possible without effect about the quality product if it is still in DLUO.

                                3. j
                                  jjbourgeois Feb 15, 2011 04:37 PM

                                  That just looks horrible

                                  1. nsenada Apr 3, 2011 05:02 PM

                                    Looks like chicken-colored, wallpaper-paste-flavored eggs benedict knows no state boundaries. I experienced this eggtrocity in a diner in my hometown in CT.

                                     
                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: nsenada
                                      yumyum Apr 3, 2011 08:33 PM

                                      Well for crying out loud! What do we have to do to get good hollandaise? Cuz I'll do it! I'm cautiously optimistic about olde magouns saloon... they have a brilliant Irish fryup on weekends and have an actual chef in the kitchen. Crazy!

                                      1. re: yumyum
                                        opinionatedchef Apr 4, 2011 12:02 AM

                                        aquitaine's is a true hollandaise but i was really surprised , last week, that it was seriously lemon challenged. Fortunately, whenever i order eggs benedict i always ask for lemon wedges at the same time.(otherwise, the eggs are cold before i get the necessary lemon)

                                    2. MrsCheese Apr 3, 2011 06:20 PM

                                      Yikes. Not only does the "hollandaise" look gross, but there's about a bucketload of it on the plate. I think I would have just asked for a clean plate and transferred everything, trying to leave as much faux-hollandaise behind as possible. What a disappointment.

                                      1. MC Slim JB Apr 3, 2011 07:49 PM

                                        I was in The Breakfast Club diner in North Allston the other day, and thinking of this thread made me order the Eggs Benedict, but not before I asked, "Do you make your own, real Hollandaise?", to which my server replied yes. (She also admitted that their hash was not house-made, which gave me confidence.)

                                        Alas, while it wasn't as horrible as some of the mucilage described here, and didn't taste like horrid chicken gravy, it did not taste like a traditional from-scratch Hollandaise, either. (The online menu describes it as "homemade Benedict sauce"; I didn't notice if it says that on the print menu, too.)

                                        After all, what can you expect for $7.50? The chunky home fries were pretty good.

                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                        -----
                                        Breakfast Club
                                        270 Western Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                          Beachowolfe Apr 4, 2011 07:19 PM

                                          Did you have a milkshake?

                                          1. re: Beachowolfe
                                            MC Slim JB Apr 4, 2011 08:05 PM

                                            No. Are they special there? I love a good chocolate malt frappe.

                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                          2. re: MC Slim JB
                                            yumyum Aug 5, 2011 01:10 PM

                                            Checked out The Breakfast Club today for lunch and of course I had to try the Eggs Benedict because I'm a nutter. The hollandaise didn't taste home made to me either and our waitress also steered us away from the hash saying it was the soft style, not crispy (odd? I wonder if anyone's tried it?). Overall the benny was good -- nicely toasted english muffin, good poach on the eggs, and nice griddled ham (not Canadian bacon as advertised). But again, that hollandaise was suspect, even though it was a far cry from the abomination I had at Victoria.

                                            The winner though was the breakfast plate called "The Teacher" : two eggs, bacon, sausage, ham and home fries with scali toast. Very nice. And a deal at $7.50.

                                            I really liked the overall feel of the diner complete with 80's music and a fairly mixed crowd. The waitresses were friendly but not overbearing. And our food came out lickity split. How come this place doesn't get much love around here? It's not earth-shaking, but it's solid.

                                            The menu: http://dinetheory.com/tbc/TBC_menu051...

                                            -----
                                            Breakfast Club
                                            270 Western Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                                             
                                             
                                            1. re: yumyum
                                              MC Slim JB Aug 5, 2011 01:24 PM

                                              I tend to go only when I can hit it at off-hours, as in my recent visit, at 11am-ish on a weekday. It's small enough to generate long lines on weekends. Plus, if I'm going to get in a car and on the Pike, I might as well go another exit and hit Deluxe Town.

                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                              1. re: yumyum
                                                j
                                                Jenny Ondioline Aug 5, 2011 01:46 PM

                                                By "soft-style," she means "straight out of a can a la Mary Kitchens."

                                                The Breakfast Club is okay, but by being okay, that makes it the best of Allston's wretched breakfast options. Maybe that "Allston Diner" that's going in where Grain and Salt used to be will get the job done...

                                                -----
                                                Grain and Salt
                                                431 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                                Breakfast Club
                                                270 Western Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                  yumyum Aug 5, 2011 01:50 PM

                                                  Or maybe "a la Fancy Feast"???

                                                  I actually don't mind that style, as long as they crisp it up good on the flat top. But something in her eyes was definitely transmitting "noooooo".

                                                  1. re: yumyum
                                                    j
                                                    Jenny Ondioline Aug 5, 2011 01:54 PM

                                                    I'm not sure the hash even goes on the griddle: no evidence of crispness at all. It could just be microwaved.

                                                    Tbe Breakfast Club, like Victoria, is one of those places where as long as you stick to the basics -- over easy, sausage, homefries, toast -- it'll be okay.

                                                    -----
                                                    Breakfast Club
                                                    270 Western Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                                                    1. re: yumyum
                                                      Kat Aug 6, 2011 05:59 AM

                                                      LOL re: Fancy Feast

                                              2. dmullin699 Apr 4, 2011 06:51 PM

                                                Mckenna's on Savin Hill Ave in Dorchester is about a mile away, and it is amazing.
                                                Everything a diner should be.
                                                It is also steps away from the Savin Hill MBTA station.
                                                I still have nightmares about the Victoria Diner.

                                                -----
                                                Victoria Diner
                                                1024 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                                                1. l
                                                  libertywharf Aug 5, 2011 01:47 PM

                                                  If it has new owners I will have to try it. It was terrible when owned by mikes city diner. I grew up in this place and ate here over the course of 20 plus years. The original owners knew how to run it, mikes destroyed it.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: libertywharf
                                                    MC Slim JB Aug 5, 2011 03:40 PM

                                                    I had a different impression: Victoria was okay pre-Mike's, best under the Mike's stewardship, and significantly worse under the current owners.

                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                      l
                                                      libertywharf Aug 5, 2011 03:58 PM

                                                      The last few years before mikes bought it, I saw a decline. But for most of the years under the original owners, it was a hot spot.

                                                      Side note: there are only a few waitresses there from the original days.

                                                    2. re: libertywharf
                                                      aadesmd Aug 9, 2011 08:59 PM

                                                      Agree completely. The Victoria got me through medical school, which is high praise considering the experience that I had at BU Med sucked.

                                                      1. re: aadesmd
                                                        Nab Aug 9, 2011 10:25 PM

                                                        i think gastroenterology got you thru the victoria

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