How do you give a diner, with only 18 bolted-to-the-floor seats, a 5 star rating???
Very simply… they did everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING right.
We (Mrs. Gardiner, Kiddo and I) headed in here for lunch on our “off day” from skiing. We’d seen the TA reviews, and were intrigued how a diner could rank so high.
Yes, it’s hidden away. Yes, it’s a small place. Yes, I only counted 18 seats, and those truly were bolted to the floor. You’re not squeezing in extra seats here. We sat in the back left corner as you enter. Didn’t know it, but this gave us a ringside seat for what turned out to be a celebration of fresh, fresh cooking. From our seats, we had a full, clear theatre view of the prep area, the cooking area AND the back storeroom. We were delighted!
The gentleman running things in the prep/cooking area was apparently one of the owners (guessing it’s a husband/wife thing). I watched:
>Onion rings: He pulled raw onions out of a tub, soaked them in a milk/cream sauce, then hand breaded them, then fried them. Fresh.
>Burgers: He pulled enormous (very likely half pound) burgers and cooked them himself. Cheese? I counted him putting on THREE slices of cheese.
>Omelets: I watched the other chef make the most gorgeous, overflowing omelettes on the gas burner side of things.
>Pancakes: Someone had ordered blueberry pancakes… I watched the chef/owner pour the batter carefully onto his grill, then he pulled out a tub of actual blueberries, and hand-placed about 20 blueberries into the still-cooking batter. Fresh, real, blueberries!
>Iced Tea: Mrs. Gardiner and I had ordered iced tea… watching the storeroom, we learned that they actually brew their tea there at the restaurant, then ice it themselves… no pre-mix, no bottles. Fresh.
Now, all this said, I can’t recommend this as a “hit it every day for breakfast AND lunch” place. Looking at the menu, your health would dictate many of the menu items are purely guilty pleasures. Fresh stuff? YES. Well prepared? YES. Is everything on the menu a cup of fruit yogurt? Eh… not so much.
(Let’s just say that every time The Little Diner opens, the Colorado Association of Cardiologists breathes out a collective “ka-ching”. This is not the menu at a wheatgrass, soymilk, Vikram-yoga health spa… let’s be clear about this.)
So, I was wowed by the fresh ingredients used, yes. BUT, the friendly and fast service, and delicious prep eclipsed that for us… the personal touch of having one of the owners in the kitchen truly made the meal. Choose your menu items wisely, though, and if you don’t choose wisely, at least up your Zocor dosage, ok?
Yes, I (and the Gardiner family) will happily be back, but only once a year. (AND… if any of you tell MY cardiologist about this, I’ll defriend you faster than the Diner can serve you hot toast. (that’s also fast, by the way…)
It is a diner, and that’s what it wants to be. In this, it truly excels.
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