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Tried Square Lake Diner in Troy, MI today...

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Goatgolfer and I went to to SLD today for the first time. Actually, I should say that he bought me lunch today, since that's what happened. Decent first experience.

I ordered the salmon entree, and GG had the Birmingham burger. The salmon came with mashed sweet potatoes and either a cup of soup or small salad, and I chose the house-made chicken noodle soup. That soup is absolutely *nothing* to write home about. It was edible, and because I was hungry, I consumed it. Make note, though: it's not good. It's plain, underseasoned, and looks pretty dreary. No crackers, either. Not the best of starts.

However, there's some redemption, here: the salmon was actually pretty tasty, and nicely prepared. It had a nice taste, if kind of an odd look. It came atop those mashed sweet potatoes, so you had an orangish-colored fish on top of bright orange sweet potatoes. Presentation here is a very, very low priority, and it's pretty evident. GG felt so bad about the appearance of the plate that he took some of his burger's lettuce and put it on my plate, just so there'd be something a bit more visually appealing. The mashed sweet potatoes were a bit too mushy/liquidy than I would have preferred them be, but still tasted good. Like I said, though, they got the salmon right, and that's important.

GG's burger (served with ordinary potato chips...nothing of consequence, but fries were another $2 if you wanted them) was good as well. He asked for it medium-rare, and the kitchen delivered on the request. No hands-wringing morons who're afraid to serve something with a bit of red in *that* kitchen, I should say. That's actually something, in this day and age. His Birmingham burger came topped with Gruyere (yuck...why?) which he must have liked. It also came with bacon, which he graciously allowed me to have a slice of, and credit where it's due: the slice I had was very nice. Still warm, with the correct crispness, and nice flavor. He also gave me his pickle spear, which I enjoyed.

Service was pretty good, but our server messed up when tallying up the bill. She accidentally (I'm pretty sure) charged us separately for my cup of soup, which is supposed to come with the entree. When it was pointed out, she apologized for her mistake and paid GG back for the mistake in cash, which I thought was pretty quick thinking on her feet. I think that the servers were just a tad overworked/stretched thin today because of the multiple newspaper writeups...our server told us that it was the busiest day they'd ever had to this point, so a mental error like this is pretty forgivable. I just hope it was a mental error, and not an attempt to inflate the bill.

One thing they really need to do is change the online menu and prices to reflect the actual menu and prices in the diner itself. That seared salmon entree I had? Online (www.squarelakediner.com) it says that it's $13.99 and comes with a mustard creme fraiche sauce, served with crispy garlic potatoes. In actuality, it's listed at $15.99, it has a honey mustard glaze, and those crispy garlic potatoes aren't available, or at least they weren't today when I asked about it, and we were there at normal lunch time. Even Molly Abraham says that they should have had the crispy garlic potatoes. So, $2 more, no creme fraiche, no potato substitute, and they tried to charge us for the soup. And, I think, for $7.29, the fries should be included with the burger, or that the upcharge should have only been $1, but that's just a trifle.

So, all in all, it was pretty good. Certainly nothing that would rock anyone's world at all, but to be fair, it's still early in the life of the place, they've obviously got some kinks to work out, and they're getting the most important things right. We both left feeling pretty good about the experience, and as time winds on, I think the overall performance has a good chance of improving. The setting certainly is a step or two above the average diner setting, and it's actually kind of interesting that they have a full bar in there. Service will improve, plating (I'm almost *dead* sure) will improve (seriously: it'd almost *have* to...), and if they work at it, they should be a pretty nice destination for the "Costs a little more, but it's worth it" crowd, which I'm definitely a part of.

Thank you again for lunch, GG!

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    1. Thanks for the writeup...this place is close enough to work that after seeing the decent review in the News, it's on my list of places to try for lunch.

      But boo to them for not having correct pricing on line.

      Think I'll wait a couple of weeks, though, till they settle down.

      1 Reply
      1. re: coney with everything

        Sounds like pretty solid wisdom to me, CWE. Let the onslaught happen and they'll have their trial by fire, and perhaps they'll come out of it on the other side a bit stronger. Again, though...don't bother with that soup. ;)

      2. Went for biscuits & gravy this morning. $3.99 for two biscuits and a bucket of gravy. Presented cool I sent it back and of course it came out volcanically hot. After a minute when it was edible the gravy had an unusual sweet/smoky taste that I eventually figured out was ham with the sausage gravy. For me it wasn't really an improvement but perhaps for some. The jury is still out for me and I think it may be a while before I give them another go.

        1. Thanks for this info! I hadn't heard of it and it's pretty close, so I will also wait but give it a try next month.

          1. I catered food from Pete, the owner. His nephew Frank quoted a price, and when I went to pick up the food with 15 hungry kids at home, he jacked up the price by another 60% more. Will NEVER, EVER go there. I can get better food at nearby gourmet restaurants than this diner. NEVER TRUST ME GOING THERE AGAIN.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Satishh

              60%? Wow...that'd be "Keep your #-+$*& food...the kids'll eat pizza!" territory for me. Something about this sounds odd.

              1. re: boagman

                Yes, I would have said that if I didn't have 15 hungry kids waiting at home at the birthday party event. Frank quoted a price to me, and I guess his uncle Pete yelled at him and changed the price. I had to pay the price. Well, I learnt my lesson the hard way.