Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Silver Diner, Cherry Hill

Silver Diner came to my attention years ago when I lived in the Washington metro area, where I think it originated. The concept is to re-do and over-do the classic diner, making it bigger, blockier, shinier and diner-ier than it ever was in the first place. As people point out all the time when they're talking about Mad Men (or, now, Boardwalk Empire), the textiles and other materials were different back then, and I'm sure that extends to chrome, glass block and neon as well. Silver Diner is simultaneously more silver and more diner than the silver diners of the past. It's just come to mind that if you want to know what diners used to be like, you could do much worse than checking out Angelo's , One reviewer on Yelp helpfully notes that "This place is literally a hole in the wall; yet they've managed to pack so much quality into such a tiny space."No, dumbass, it's not 'literally' a hole in the wall. It's 'literally' an original diner car that's been open since 1946. And they don't 'pack so much quality', they just fry up cheap ingredients on a flat griddle, and the browned grease tastes pretty good like it has since time immemorial. Words like 'literally' and 'epic' and '-driven' have been ruined recently. A lot of stuff has been ruined recently, including my temper. Now that I'm 36 I'm all crotchety and annoying. Shall we move on?

The interior is just as chrome-y and red-plastic-y and tile-floor-y as the exterior (I guess the exterior didn't have a tile floor. Sorry.) They some wall murals that are vaguely in a WPA style, something I love (did you ever see the one in the Coit Tower in San Francisco? I have, but I can't remember what it looked like. I'm just showing off that I used to live around there. See? 36 -->; annoying.)

They have jukeboxes too! I wasn't clear on whether you're supposed to pay for these; it would be a worthwhile addition for them to make the music free, or free the music, or free Mumia but I pushed some buttons and my tunes didn't drop, so I guess they're trying to squeeze some silver outta your pockets to enhance the silver-ness of everything else.

Did I mention why I really like blogging? It's the free association. Sometimes you can really get going, and all kinds of half-remembered things will come into your head. I find that enjoyable since I get so little mental stimulation in a normal day. Have you tried having a job? Really, it's not that great. So drinking this monster mug of (free refill-able, locally-roasted, organically-grown) coffee (and here's another thing I recently learned - in English, adjectives have a proper order. Never thought about it before, but you'll agree that 'red, new bike' sounds wrong, right? I think the three adjectives I used for the coffee were out of order, but that's how I thought of them.), I was kinda impressed with the taste. For many years I reflexively drank espresso when available, but after reading this post by Jerry Baldwin, one of the founders and the original roaster of Starbucks (in 1971, back when a bean was a bean), I started drinking regular coffee once in a while. I'm sure this isn't brewed in any special way, but it was really enjoyable.

The fancy adjectives on the coffee also illustrate something about the new Silver Diner - shortly before press time, they went live with a new menu that uses some combination of the words 'locally-sourced', 'sustainable', 'free-range', 'organic', 'healthy' and 'heart-smart' in every item's description. I'm all for that sort of stuff, as long as you don't pretend that it's the wave of the future and the only way for people to live. We have too many people for this stuff to be done locally; I chuckle when people get into 'foraging' and 'locavoring', because they build up a list of hidden spots and think that they're being clever and 'living off the land'. If ten of their friends tried to do the same thing, the 'locavoradius' would rapidly get exhausted and they'd be back to 'foraging' for sushi at Shop-Rite. So I think these eggs came from a local farm, which is great - I think there must be scale egg production facilities in PA or DE (there are certainly scale chicken production facilities in DE - Frank Purdue was from Salisbury, in the south). And scrambling up a bunch of eggs with a bunch of vegetables is always a nice idea.

Mom had this mishmash of culinary trends - 'sliders', 'healthy' bread, grilled salmon...Weird. Not a bad idea, just an odd one. Why does everything have to be a genre collision these days?

Lemme give you a little tip on being a 'heart-smart' locavore - don't eat the hollandaise sauce. Problem solved. This was a middling crabcake, much better than the Sysco travesty at Neena's the week before. The faux-English muffin at the base was a bit thick and bready; I know they come from a supermarket, but nothing beats Thomas' (although when I lived in Australia, I did allow that a nice piece of toasted Turkish bread is an adequate Antipodean substitute. Vegemite optional, boys.).

Lemme give you a closeup on that. As I ate it, I could literally feel my arteries hardening. No, that wasn't me. I don't even write that way.

Why am I so grumpy this morning? This is a decent place.

After lunch we went to the acquarium in Camden. I'd have to say it's best avoided. Kids might find it fascinating, but adults will find it small, tired, and overpriced. Here's an example - this animatronic display is supposed to simulate how certain types of fish catch prey by sucking them in. Think of the fish as the acquarium and the ping pong ball as your wallet, and that's the feeling you can expect. Except that the acquarium always gets its prey, while this guy is perpetually hungry.

1 comment:

  1. Jon, we miss your Izakaya reviews. Your U.S. reviews are interesting, though, because we know some of the places. We went to Silver Diner near us twice. Once because we were curious after seeing the long line forming in front of it on weekends and twice because my wife's all American family was visiting. We were underwhelmed both times; their biscuits reeked with baking powder (my wife's biscuits are much better) and main dishes were mediocre mush.