My Dad was visiting recently so I took him to Diner (85 Broadway, 718-486-3077) to have dinner. Not only did I know we were in for a fabulous meal, it would be guilt-free, as the people behind diner use only seasonal, well-raised food, happy, quality meat and have sustainability as the cornerstone to their philosophy. Check out their blog to read more about them and their ideas about food. The menu changes frequently, so the dishes I had might not be available exactly as I describe them.
The printed menu lists only a few dishes that are consistently made, like burgers and market salads. Since the specials are many, your server will write them down on the paper table covers as he or she describes them. It's a nice touch, and makes it easy on you when you're deciding to refer to the list. In addition to the wonderful food, the interior is lovely and comfortable as well. The main dining room is a renovated 1920's Kullman Diner, complete with booths and bar stools. The low lighting contributes to the Noir-ish feeling inside and there's an extra room in the back to accommodate more patrons.
I started with one of their special cocktails, a Martini made with a slice of pickled and roasted red pepper as garnish. Not only was it amazing to behold, it was delicious. Just a hint of hotness lingered with each sip, and as the capsicum soaked in the gin, the heat of the drink increased slightly, adding some adventure to my imbibing.
For appetizers we each chose something from the Specials. I got the Crostini on Country Bread with Chanterelles. It was a simple dish, but the flavors were complex. Buttery but not greasy, earthy and hearty, I savored every bite.
My boyfriend ordered the Squash Soup which came garnished with big leaves of Cilantro. This was the perfect Autumnal dish, and tasted so good since the ingredients were so fresh. With a dollop of cream and chunks of squash it was light yet satisfying.
My dad got the Cardoon Salad. None of us had ever heard of this stalk vegetable that was described to us to be like celery but is actually related to the globe artichoke. It was great. The cardoon was dense and almost meaty and was dressed in a lemony parmesean sauce atop a bed of lettuce greens.
For my main dish I chose the Cod with Pork Sausage and Clams. This was one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten, EVER! Seriously, I couldn't believe how tasty it was, and how well everything went together. The mild cod had a nice consistency and provided balance to the strong, savory sausage. The clams were great too, and the leafy greens sprinkled about added a light, slightly bitter note.
My boyfriend got the Swordfish with Chick Peas and Pickled Peppers. This too was wonderful - the fish was like a piece of steak and the peppers added a bit of a kick to the dish, but in a subtle way. Yum!
My Dad ordered the Gnocchi which were light and almost fluffy in consistency. They were amazing little balls of dough covered in a buttery sauce and topped with cheese. It was a small portion, so choose something else if you're really hungry. Although, there were originally seven but my Dad couldn't resist eating one before I snapped a photo!
After dinner we were pretty full, but since dinner was so fantastic, we wanted to sample the desserts. We got the French Apple Tart with cinnamon whipped cream. It looked amazing, was served warm and the dough was nicely flaky. The flavor of the apples shone through instead of being drowned in sugar.
But it was the Flourless Chocolate Cake that...took the cake! It was so smooth, slightly bitter due to the dark chocolate used and topped with a thin layer of dense chocolate. It was truly unbelieveable.
I would recommend Diner to anyone, for any meal, since everything is thoughtfully prepared with the freshest and best ingredient and is presented lovingly. It's a completely pleasurable experience.