The Diner on Clifton has been my families’ go-to spot for years when we meet out for dinner and for the occasional weekday breakfast. Unfortunately, the recent price increases caused us to seek out alternatives. With two other diners only blocks away, I can’t imagine what management was thinking: this is NOT a fancy restaurant, it’s a diner on a busy corner with decent food, bad parking and old basement bathrooms. So, an extra $1 or $2 a dish is enough to push something from "kinda pricey" to "expensive".
About the food…my favorite appetizer is the Artichoke Dill Bake, a small cast iron skillet filled with baked creamy cheeses, artichokes and dill served with fried pita chips seasoned with lemon pepper. The pita chips are excellent but often they don’t give you enough for the dip and an extra batch is $3, making this an $11 appetizer.
The soups are usually good, the portions are large and usually the dessert case is filled with a half-dozen or so Cheesecake Factory-sized treats. The house standard is Garden Vegetable Chowder, and occasionally they have a yummy Cheeseburger soup as well. The roasted turkey sandwich and chicken pita are excellent. I also recommend the chili dog with potato salad.
The salads are large, usually enough for two meals – but they should really offer half-sizes and at those prices, serve some bread on the side at least. A dinner salad, a side of fries and a drink cost about $15, and if my friend and I order a salad and a dinner to share, dinner is $30. My favorite dish is the penne pesto pasta, but again a half-size and a piece of garlic bread would be nice. Sitting outside is an option (in the summer) but it's a congested street corner so the noise and fumes make outside dining unpleasant.
I prefer to support non-chain restaurants whenever possible. But frankly, charging more without making some improvements is risky. Give people a piece of bread with their soup, salad and pasta, or at the very least, a clean bathroom. At this point with their remodeled interior and improved menu, My Friends Place up the street has become a better alternative.