- Food and Cooking
The Brooklyn Diner - A Breakfast Review
Brooklyn has given the world some cultural gems, not to mention its own dialect. The Brooklyn Diner is not in Brooklyn but in two locations in Manhattan at 212 West 57th Street, just off Seventh Avenue and at 155 West 43rd Street on Broadway.
Here is a general observation: diners in the Northeast suffer from a lack of imagination. The great thing about a diner is that you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner on your schedule. Diners are geared up to serve a great variety of food. But, especially when it comes to breakfast, the menu is drearily familiar from one diner to the next. The Southwest, on the other hand, has discovered some wonderful Tex-Mex breakfast offerings, such as huevos ranchero but for some reason the variety has eluded the rest of the country.
Why Diners are Boring for Breakfast
If you look at a typical breakfast menu for a diner you will see pretty much the same fare. Let's review:
Eggs. Scrambled, over, sunny side up or poached. About the only new thing that has shown up on diner menus in the past few years are breakfast wraps. Omelet's? Some diners try to get a bit fancy and name their omelets, but it is always a familiar choice of unimaginative concoctions.
Meats. Sausage, ham, bacon and sometimes corned beef hash. Turkey often shows up, but in omelets only. When was the last time you saw chicken on a breakfast menu?
Sides. How would you like your potatoes? With so many culinary choices available, including rice, pasta, and various grains one would think that a wide choice would be yours. One would think. Some large chains, such as IHOP, offer a stack of pancakes as an alternative to toast. Well I guess that's to be expected from a place that calls itself the International House of Pancakes. But beyond that, your choice of breakfast sides is quite limited.
The Mixed Marriage of Irving and Gina
Brooklyn Diner Midtown
The Brooklyn Diner
Why did it take the owners of the Brooklyn Diner to figure out that there are alternatives to the usual dreary fare that a diner offers? The Brooklyn Diner is an exception to the boring Northeast diner menu.
Just look at a few of the different items you will find on the menu.
· Hot Italian Sausage, the cure for the "breakfast sausage." The spicy taste of this sausage is a perfect complement to an egg breakfast.
· Chicken and apple sausage. Someting new, someting different and something that tastes great.
· Polenta. Who knew? Polenta is a coarsely ground cornmeal that originated in Northern Italy. It has a pleasant taste that goes well with a variety of foods and great texture. I have never before seen it offered on a breakfast menu before. It is a perfect complement to eggs.
· Black beans and rice. Served in a small tower, this combination goes great with breakfast. It's tasty, nutritious and has a wonderful gentle texture. It's a welcome alternative to hash brown potatoes or French fries, the typical breakfast choice.
· Sautéed spinach. On a breakfast menu? Sautéed spinach is a common side on most dinner or lunch menus, but it's surprising to see it on a breakfast menu. It's a welcome addition and once you try it for breakfast you'll wonder why it isn't a standard.
· Noodle kugel. This is another delicious starch that you seldom see offered with breakfast. Like so many of their other sides, noodle kugel is an excellent companion to eggs.
· Marinara sauce. We all know the wonderful taste of marinara sauce, but we expect to see it only with a pasta meal. The Brooklyn Diner people have realized that it's a taste that goes wonderfully with breakfast.
· My personal favorite:"The Mixed Marriage of Irving and Gina," named for the owners. It includes two eggs baked into challah toast, Italian sausage, marinara sauce, peppers, onions and, of course, polenta. It is a breakfast apart!
Most of my visits to the Brooklyn Diner is to the 57th Street location. Besides the wonderful food and great service, the Brooklyn Diner is also a great place for Celebrity Spotting. On one visit, as my wife and I were being led to our table, I noticed none other than the great comedian, Colin Quinn. When we sat down I said to Lynda "Did you see who that is?" She told me to look who was sitting across from him - Jerry Seinfeld. Shortly after that visit they collaborated on the great one man show: Long Story Short, starring Colin Quinn and produced by Jerry Seinfeld. A few months later we saw the show, which was hilarious. The next morning we went to the Brooklyn Diner and who was there but Colin Quinn. Nice breakfast company.
The next time you're in Mid Town Manhattan, make sure to pay the Brooklyn Diner a visit.
Copyright © 2012 by Russell F. Moran