Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Dining at The Diner

Grilled cheese sandwiches with bourbon bacon jam
Last night some friends and I went to a recently opened restaurant in Central called The Diner on Arbuthnot Road.

It replaced the ill-fated Brasserie de I'ile, retaining the beautifully tiled floor. But everything else is very American diner -- 50 license plates from different US states on the back wall, the back of a 1960s Cadillac converted into a seat, booth seating, a large traffic light and an open kitchen.

Mac n cheese balls with jalapeno slices
We got there after 8pm and there were only three tables occupied on a Monday night -- mostly by women interestingly enough.

The place focuses mostly on hamburgers, but also has dishes like buttermilk fried chicken ($108), onion rings (HK$58) and sliders (HK$115).

We started with Mac n Cheese Balls (HK$68), the favourite American dish rolled into balls and then dipped in batter and deep-fried, served with sliced jalapeno peppers. Inside was pipping hot macaroni and cheese that seemed more creamy than cheesy.

Another starter was frickles or sliced dill pickles that are deep-fried and served with chipotle mayo, a delicious dip. These are not as chunky as the ones at Roundhouse, but still retained the sour taste.

The cobb salad (HK$128) is hearty for one and best shared. It's choc full of Romaine lettuce, hard-boiled egg, chunks of grilled chicken, unripe avocado, blue cheese, tomato and cucumber.

Frickles with chipotle mayo sauce
I had a hankering for the grilled cheese sandwich (HK$95), but it wasn't like the one made in the movie Chef using three different cheese melted on the griddle. Instead it was cheddar cheese with bourbon bacon jam that made it taste quite sweet and presented in three layers of bread cut into quarters. Nevertheless the dish came with apple slaw that seemed to have more cabbage than apple in it.

My friends split the Memphis Burger (HK$145), featuring a beef patty topped with pulled pork, smoked cheddar, caramelized onions, dill pickles and BBQ sauce. The burger overall tasted more beef than pork which was a tad disappointing, but was quite hearty and not too dry.

Even more bizarre was that after our food was served, around 9pm, the waiter came by the tell us it was last call for food because the kitchen was closing. Already? We were quite surprised, but didn't have anymore requests because we had just started digging into our food.

Nevertheless a male customer walked in and ordered a chicken burger, so the kitchen actually stayed open for another hour.

A large portion of Cobb salad
In the end we finished the grilled cheese, the burger, the salad and left some frickles and one mac n cheese ball. We had no room for dessert and eventually left around 10.30pm, with the two tables of women still there.

We like the concept of The Diner, but have to wonder, like its previous tenants, how the restaurant will attract diners to schlep all the way up here for a meal. If it's not too busy now, how will it sustain in the long term?

And they do have an enticing brunch menu, but it won't be starting for another week... We wish them luck.

The Diner
G/F, 4-8 Arbuthnot Road
No telephone number!

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