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This is my third visit here for dinner.

This is my third visit here for dinner. We usually have breakfast here. Seven of us entered a packed place for dinner, the line practically out the door, and the parking lot jammed with cars, got in line to get our names on the list and waited, about 25-35 minutes we were told, to be seated. The hostess grabbed some menus and then grabbed us and told us to follow. We did and when the hostess put the menus down on the table she turned around and stood there and waited for us to move out of the way so she could double back to the hostess stand. She wouldn’t budge until she literally plowed through us. I thought, “how rude”, and then brushed it off as the usual way I see the hostesses in this place doing it.

We sat down and shortly afterward the bus boy brought us short water glasses and additional paper place mats and flatware and napkins.

Looking over the long menu, which is ten laminated, spiral bound pages, front and back, with lunch and dinner page inserts and a page ‘slipped in’ the middle describing additional “fancy seafood’, I was hoping to find something very filling as I was quite hungry and thirsty as well. The waitress came over and asked if we would like something to drink. A small carafe of white wine, several cokes and a juice were ordered and a “just water, thank you” and she asked if we were ready to order. We asked for an additional minute or two, please, to look over the menu, which is very long. A few minutes later and a couple of pages into the long menu the waitress comes with the drinks and asks if we are ready. No one has been able to decide in such a short time and on such a long and diverse menu what to order so we asked for an additional minute or two, please.

I cruise all over the menu finding the Hot Open Roast Beef sounding appetizing and the menu states it comes with soup, salad, potato and vegetable, a soft drink, coffee and dessert. I was very hungry and thirsty. By this time the waitress has disappeared. Not even showing up at any neighboring tables so we could grab her. It was a very busy night and this place is always packed to the rafters 24/7. When we come here, usually for breakfast it’s a mob house.

The bus boy stops by to refill our water glasses and we ask if he could flag down the waitress for us. He smiled, looked at us like he was very nervous about it and left for the kitchen. A few minutes later the waitress comes; looking a bit disheveled and asks for our order. We gave her our orders, Hot Open Roast Beef, matzo ball soup, Italian dressing, fries, and broccoli. A hamburger deluxe, medium well, (the deluxe comes with fries, lettuce and tomato.) A cheeseburger deluxe, medium well. A grilled swiss cheese with tomato and bacon. A romanian steak, well done, manhattan clam chowder, greek salad, fries, and stewed zucchini. A garden omelet. A stuffed cabbage dinner special.

We ask for refills on the soft drinks and she is off to the kitchen. A bus boy brings us the bread basket. It is full of sliced challah bread and cellophane wrapped saltines - packs of two and melba toast - the same. The top two slices of challah bread were toasted and had some garlic margarine on them. And a small monkey dish of individual butter packs nice and cold.

A bit later the waitress comes running by us and says that our order is coming.

Waiting, a bus boy brings us the two soups. A few minutes later someone brings us the two salads. I give my salad to others at the table that don’t get soup or salad and didn’t order a soup or salad a la carte as I was still trying to eat my soup.

We see the waitress a couple of more times, she doesn’t make eye contact and goes into the kitchen. I am hungry. The bread basket is empty.

Finally the food comes. We all dig in and devour every crumb. The waitress came toward the end of our meal and asked if everything was ok. We ran out of soft drinks and the water glasses were, happily, refilled during our meal, so we were, “OK”.

She asks if we would like coffee. My dinner comes with coffee and dessert she says, and 4 more coffees were ordered, I got a thin slice of ‘house dessert’ cake, a slice of cheesecake and a jello with whipped cream, a rice pudding, and a chocolate horn were also ordered and brought to our table along with the check.

I paid at the cashier in the front by the door and doubled back to the table and left a cash tip at the table and we were all off on our merry way.

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  1. I'm confused. Are you asking a question?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Hobbert

      The important thing is the OP had an onion tied to his belt, which was the style at the time.

      1. re: 4X4

        That made me spit Coke all over the place.

    2. So, was that dinner better or worse than the two preceeding?

      Sounds like a popular, busy sort of place. Personally, I don't do waiting for a table and certainly not for 35 minutes.

      1. So...you went out to dinner at a busy restaurant?

        1. Like others, I'm mystified by the point. If it's a specific review, which makes the most sense, then of where. I know you have been posting for a few years (at least since 2010) so you aren't a confused newbie.

          1 Reply
            1. re: lenorel57

              Apparently there's a super secret NAF diner that none of us besides Gastronomos have been informed of?

              1. re: gaffk

                ALL of the diners in the New York / New Jersey area are "NAF" and it ain't no "secret" and most definitely not "super"

                ;-)

            2. The above narrative is reflective of a typical night out with the extended family at a generic diner. Some names were changed to protect the innocent.
              Some of you may find certain things in it that point to New York or New Jersey, but that's purely coincidental.
              It outlines the mundane details of daily life as a Chowhound out and about for dinner with a group of non-Chowhounds. After all, it is posted on the "Not About Food" Topic Board.
              If you have a relevant comment to post, please do. I welcome criticism at every level, but, please, keep it clean. The moderators here have enough to do.
              Thanks for reading and happy Chowhounding!

              Ciao!

              19 Replies
              1. re: Gastronomos

                Why didn't you post this preface to begin with?

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Much like the Preface to the second or subseqent edition of a book, it gets a second look and a different perspective.
                  If I came across a post such as this on the Not About Food Discussion Board I may have replied with something noting a similar experience, or a flaw in the story, or a Not About Food something or other. It isn't something that requires much thought. Both to write and to reply to.
                  Replying to some food centric posts here and on some of the other boards could take much thought, at least for a Chowhound.

                  One of the replies that I found humorous, at least, was one that simply stated "Never Mind"

                  Much like the dining experience a Chowhound had and was outlined in the narrative

                2. re: Gastronomos

                  I see my comment was removed and I'd like to apologize for being snarky.

                  1. re: KrumTx

                    Please, no need to apologize. The moderators chose to delete the 30 something replies for many reasons including confusion about the original post. I posted the above explanation to hopefully alleviate some of that confusion. Thanks for reading. :-)

                  2. re: Gastronomos

                    I'm still puzzled by your purpose. This seems more like a blog post rather than a discussion topic.

                    1. re: Hobbert

                      Perhaps. But I was hoping to invoke a conversation about the more mundane dining experiences Chowhounds have on a day-to-day basis. Something more than a focused discussion of Bananas or a pizza centric thread, for example. And I didn’t find posting a query such as, “So, Chowhounds, tell me about your mundane eating experiences.” to be very provocative of a broader subject or subjects. So, I started. I posted first. If the discussion takes a left turn somewhere into something specific, fine. I’ll just “go with the flow”. I replied to some of the posts that I thought were on point and got some humorous replies as well. And, since this is “Not About Food”, if the discussion turns into one debating the type of dining facility, or something specific in the post, or my poor writing skills for that matter or about any number of things, then so be it.

                      Ciao!

                      1. re: Gastronomos

                        "But I was hoping to invoke a conversation about the more mundane dining experiences Chowhounds have on a day-to-day basis."

                        We went out to dinner Saturday. The server took our order and later on brought out our food. We ate the food, paid the bill, and left. The food and service were both satisfactory though not exemplary.

                        1. re: kengk

                          was it your first visit? if so, will you return? if not, why did you return?

                          1. re: kengk

                            And that review only took one short paragraph - just as it should...

                            Hunt

                      2. re: Gastronomos

                        <Some names were changed to protect the innocent>

                        So, maybe you were watching old re-runs of 'Dragnet' and you imagined yourself writing a script focusing on a family sitting in a restaurant eating mediocre food in the same old restaurant you've eaten at 3 times?
                        Perhaps others can compare their experiences and it will become a Chowhound weekly series?

                        1. re: latindancer

                          if that is what you would like to see

                          1. re: latindancer

                            Yes, I was thinking what we really need is a "What's for dinner, my most uneventful mundane meal out" edition.

                            1. re: chowser

                              chowser, "my most uneventful mundane meal out".
                              I guess "most" would be key. otherwise it seems like the daily "uneventful mundane meal" out would take over these boards

                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                Hmmm, yes, a "most uneventful mundane meal" needs the "most" similar to the "most perfect meal out" threads.

                              2. re: chowser

                                Maybe an entire board dedicated to that subject? Or not...

                                Hunt

                            2. Human nature is perverse. Why am I actually writing to say I am clueless about this discussion?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Sinicle

                                No matter how perverse or cynical, sardonic sarcasm is of interest to you, Sinicle?

                              2. I now understand why CHers who've been around since the inception of the board bemoan how far adrift CH has come from its initial concept of finding good food.

                                6 Replies
                                    1. re: mcf

                                      Funny thing is, I was one of them from early on. Bemoaning and seeing many good chowhounds, true chowhounds, leave CH.com for distant shores, surfing the net on other websites. Some started their own sites way back when. I was never a "serial poster" but CH.com was drifting from its initial concept very early on.

                                      BTW, FWIW, GASTRONOMOS is Greek, not Latin. ;-)

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        Slow lightbulb moment. Well played, Gastronomos.

                                    2. Imagine how I felt after my third visit here. It was more than 5 minutes. And that's just this one place. These places are everywhere! And I have sat through many more...

                                      4 Replies
                                        1. re: Gastronomos

                                          I think you miss the point of Dirtywextraolives' post. I believe he is referencing your post and not the restaurant.

                                          1. I still do not get this:

                                            "We did and when the hostess put the menus down on the table she turned around and stood there and waited for us to move out of the way so she could double back to the hostess stand. She wouldn’t budge until she literally plowed through us. I thought, “how rude”, and then brushed it off as the usual way I see the hostesses in this place doing it."

                                            So she waited for you to move and she did not move, but she plowed through you. How do you not move and plow simultaneously?

                                            And I would still like to know if the short water glasses were especially exciting, especially disappointing, downright upsetting, or something else that you thought to mention the size of the water glasses.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Just Visiting

                                              Just Visiting, the short water glasses are brought to every table after you sit down, either before or after you order your food in a place such as this. If when the waitperson asks if you would like to order a drink, and one person at the table says, "Just water, please / thank you." then sometimes a large or tall glass of water is brought to the person with the drinks / soft drinks to the others. That didn't happen this time, and to think of it, it doesn't always happen, usually only if the waitperson is thinking of bothering, I guess.

                                            2. This is like a Seinfeld episode: A bunch of people sitting around a diner and nothing happens...

                                              4 Replies
                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                  And then they speak of it for an hour.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    ... and people tune in to watch. (In this case, read.)

                                                2. So, I find myself on a Friday afternoon sitting at my desk, in my office, I look out the window briefly at the beautiful spring day, the trees waving in the breeze, highlighted by the sun’s reflection.

                                                  I turn my attention back to my office, in particular my computer screen ,where I had just read a post on one of my social networking sites, Chowhound. The post I had just read is what caused me to turn my attention outside where I pondered to myself, “I have no idea what the purpose of what I just read was”. I re-read the same post a 2nd time and while I completely understand each word as written, all combined in their content, I’m confused by what the over all message the writer is trying to convey. I take a sip of my coffee, scratch my head and proceed to read the comments which follow.

                                                  A rapid smile comes across my face as I read several other people with the same confused questions as myself, there is always comfort to be found in numbers. Ahh Haa! I finally see where the author of this short story offers an explanation as to the intended purpose of this story, another sip of coffee and slight scratch of the head, nope I’m still confused.

                                                  I find the comments and questions following the story a little difficult to follow, it seems the moderators have been deleting several comments, which throws the flow of the comments out of sync. I keep sipping, scratching and reading…..I feel like I’m stepping harder on an accelerator knowing I’m driving down a dead end street, the end is going to come, just not fast enough for me.

                                                  This has been my response after reading “This is my third visit here for dinner”

                                                  24 Replies
                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                    i got distracted trying to recall the last time i was anyplace that gave wrapped melba toast in the breadbasket. did this story happen in the 60s?

                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      jrvedivici & hotoynoodle,

                                                      LOL!!! Thank you!!! Yes!!! Did it happen in the 1960's???!!!???
                                                      No. Unfortunately, this is very recent. Melba toast is offered exactly like this, wrapped in cellophane. This was my third visit to this particular place, but many, many (too many) visits have been made to the same generic places in the past, and unfortunately again probably in the future.
                                                      This is a story of a particular type of place that time has forgotten. The generic Big Box New Jersey Style greek Diner that plagues the landscape of New Jersey, New York and surrounding areas. The owners are getting older and some are closing their doors. Others are trying to emulate the chains such as TGIF and Applebee’s, but keeping the same subpar food type stuff, the 20 page menus and the attitude to boot.
                                                      This post was originally on the New York State board, but the moderators moved it. I tried to tell them it has little reference outside of the NY/NJ area.
                                                      jrvedivici, thanks for the reply, it hit the nail on the head. EXACTLY. SPOT ON!
                                                      This post also has to do with the sad place that CH.com has come. Sorting and sifting thru hundreds of posts and threads to find a simple chowhound worthy spot to eat.
                                                      The mods deleted over 30 posts at first and left a few. Deleted a few more and confusing us all when we read the thru the threads.
                                                      It’s too bad. Some of these places serve 10,000 plates a week. I was hoping that I could find a chowhound that did not frequent these places and understands that these are the antithesis of chowhound, or of at least its original intent.
                                                      So far, no luck.

                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8967...

                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8967...

                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                        i grew up in ny/nj, so know exactly the kind of place you mean. the big menus, but i only ever got grilled cheese anyway, lol.

                                                        i don't find ch a "sad place" at all, nor do i find myself subject to mediocre chow on purpose. my boston board is lively and there are so many new places to try all the time, i have trouble keeping up.

                                                        i could choose to eat at krap places, i suppose, but life is too short.

                                                        cheesecake factory has a 10-page menu and serves (i'm sure at least) 10,000 plates a week too. i don't eat there either. never have.

                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                          "but i only ever got grilled cheese anyway, lol."

                                                          The OP states, "A grilled swiss cheese with tomato and bacon." That's all my MIL ever orders. EVER. LOL!
                                                          Funny, she only ordered grilled swiss cheese, but seeing me being an 'adventurous' eater all these years, she added tomato and bacon to the order. That's All she ever orders! LOL!

                                                            1. re: fara

                                                              Wonder who will water all the children of the garden
                                                              When they sigh about the barren lack
                                                              Of rain and droop so hungry 'neath the sky

                                                        2. re: Gastronomos

                                                          I'm glad you were able to appreciate the humor I was trying to dry-ly convey.

                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                            How could anyone not appreciate this?

                                                            "I feel like I’m stepping harder on an accelerator knowing I’m driving down a dead end street, the end is going to come, just not fast enough for me."

                                                            The best description ever of, sadly, too many situations in life.

                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                              please post similarly again anywhere on chowhound.com

                                                              thanks!

                                                            2. re: Gastronomos

                                                              I grew up in the tri state area, and am now based out west in LA. I can't tell you how many times I have wished to know where a good Greek diner was out here. They just simply don't exist. Everything is either a chain, fast food, or a trendy and expensive place. Sometimes, a nice familiar feel of a DINER was all I really wanted. Especially since the ones I grew up with had decent food, and really good breakfasts that were priced right.

                                                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                Perhaps we had/have different experiences.
                                                                When I was younger, here on Long Island we Never finished a night out until we went to the diner.
                                                                Same as NJ, but Disco Fries on LI meant brown gravy *on the side*. Breakfast or lunch or dinner or all three at 4am...
                                                                I get it. Yeah. I know. "a nice familiar feel of a DINER".
                                                                I want that too. Really. I do. These places though, How do I explain? Oh, read my OP story!
                                                                Sorry, I am not a fan.

                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                  This entire thread has me alternately scratching my head, laughing out loud, and hitting the accelerator. I lived on Long Island and identified this type of place immediately. The 10 page menu with the paper insert for "fancy seafood" and hamburger deluxe platter were dead giveaways. The last time my husband and I went, we looked around, lamented what we'd become, and never looked back.

                                                                  1. re: Cachetes

                                                                    Cachetes please elaborate. Your described reaction is exactly right. Your last sentence I would like to hear more about... :-)

                                                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                      I just remember looking around and thinking that we were all eating enormous plates of sadness. I was still too young to be giving up that easily.

                                                                        1. re: Cachetes

                                                                          Is it just me or is this suddenly taking a Hotel California turn;

                                                                          Welcome to the Diner California;

                                                                          On a dark desert highway, cool whip in my hand
                                                                          Warm smell of cheese fries, rising up through the air
                                                                          Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
                                                                          My head grew heavy and my stomach growled slight
                                                                          I had to stop for bite.

                                                                          There she stood in the doorway;
                                                                          Holding the menu still
                                                                          And I was thinking to myself
                                                                          'This could be heaven or this could be Hell'
                                                                          Then she took me to a table oh she showed me the way
                                                                          There were voices in the kitchen,
                                                                          I thought I heard them say

                                                                          Welcome to the Jersey Diner California
                                                                          Such a lovely place (such lovely plates)
                                                                          Such a lovely open face
                                                                          Plenty of room at the Diner California
                                                                          Any time of year (any time of year) you can order it here

                                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                            YES!

                                                                            ...

                                                                            it just may well be that sanitarium for all those lost chowhound souls...

                                                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                Fantastic stuff. Let me put it in CBS, Sunday afternoon speak:

                                                                                "Well, this par four is a bit shorter than many on the tour."

                                                                                "Yeah, but it plays difficult because of the way it's laid out."

                                                                                "Indeed."

                                                                                "Ok, the Big Man is approaching the tee. I think he has a one iron in his hands. Interesting."

                                                                                "Indeed."

                                                                                (((HUSH)))*

                                                                                (((SWIPE)))

                                                                                "Wow, that was quite a swing . . . Oh my gods of golf . . . . it's in the hole."

                                                                                "He really did hit that one perfectly."

                                                                                "Obviously."

                                                                                And jr, the world still needs to convert existin' diners into better places to eat. Those spaces are so fuc*in' cool and fun to hang out in. Who doesn't like a spinning stool? A booth to sit next to Peggy Sue in? Ketchup bottles in a stainless steel basket even though we're now servin' uni wrapped in bacon?

                                                                                *Not in the Deep Purple sense. As an aside, is there a better organ solo in the classic rock pantheon?

                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                  I think it is pretty much impossible to wrap uni with bacon.

                                                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                    I think it is pretty much impossible to wrap uni with bacon.

                                                                                    ~~~~~

                                                                                    zomg! if you find somebody that figures it out, let me know! i have had uni napped with lardo and nearly died from delight.

                                                                                  2. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                    I was thinking Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here."

                                                                                    Getting "darker" by the moment.

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                        That was about the last time that I encountered such, though it might have been the early '70s. My parents frequented several restaurants on the MS Gulf Coast, that offered such. I left in the '60s, but did not leave the Deep South, so I am now foggy on when that passed.

                                                                        Now, in my youth, I did enjoy that Melba Toast, with real butter, but that was then, and this is now.

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                    2. Is Stanley Kubrik hiding around here with a movie camera???

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                        Could have sworn I had posted before. Couple three times.

                                                                        Mods must not have gotten the Tongue Firmly In Cheek oriented statements, or I forgot to hit REPLY again.

                                                                        I have been enjoying this nap of the earth flight from the start. Jinking and jiving through the canyons to get to the target.

                                                                        Open the bomb bay doors. I am ready to ride this H bomb down, hooping and hollering all the way.

                                                                      2. Well, you certainly were hungry and thirsty. And hungry. And thirsty...

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: silence9

                                                                          For sure I was! And I left even more thirsty than I came in. What with all the salt and pepper I dumped on the food. But that's typical for these places breakfast luch dinner and late night.
                                                                          "...off on our merry way..."

                                                                        2. My interpretation of this is that you were slightly buzzed and philosophical at 2am when you posted this.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: fara

                                                                            the date and time stamp have nothing to do with reality. It was morning, more like 7am or so, when I wrote this.

                                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                              I'm not sure that does anything to alter impressions. :-)