Thursday, December 20, 2012

American City Diner Food Review

American City Diner's Burger & Fries

50's Food... Today's Prices

There's something therapeutic about eating in a diner: Perhaps it's having a jukebox at each table, or the chance to order Salisbury Steak for old time's sake. Whatever it is, I associate diner food with comfort. After visiting American City Diner, just south of Chevy Chase Circle on Connecticut Avenue, I can add expensive to my list of associations.

Often littered with kids, American City Diner is bustling and loud (not exactly my idea of comfort.) Still, it's practically an "institution" on the Avenue... and I'm all about loyalty. I grabbed a late dinner (ACD is open until 11 PM Sunday-Thursday, and all day & night Friday-Saturday) and slid into a booth in the front. The staff here are usually pretty friendly (with the odd/old exceptions... typical of most diners) and tonight was no different. I ordered an 8 oz. burger with potato chips, a Pepsi (no Coke) and a basket of fries.

Before my meal arrived, two pre-teen girls took over the booth in front of me and proceeded to ruin my evening with empty-headed banter (the word 'like' was used like 1,000 times.) That's the risk you run in a place like this, but it goes to the joint's atmosphere. If you're keeping score at home, the "big spenders" ordered a single waffle with whipped cream and butter and two waters (tap, not bottled) between them. They were still there when I left.

Luckily for ACD, they made up the difference with my order. An 8 ounce burger with chips and pickle set me back $8.95. The basket of fries added a whopping $4.50 to the bill, and the Pepsi (not Coke) tossed another $2.75 on the fire. With a tip, that's just under $20... for one person. I wonder how much that waffle cost?

$20 for dinner is fine, if the food is good; but that's never the case at ACD. I don't expect miracles, but my burger arrived pink in the middle (I asked for medium) with a .5 oz (that's half an ounce) bag of Snyder's potato chips and NO pickle. The basket of fries is actually a modest number of hot, oily spuds on a plate. Basket infers lots of fries, don't you think? I felt cheated from the start. The burger had no taste whatsoever (yet another grill man who doesn't use salt and pepper.) Toss in the aforementioned mindless chatter from the dum-dum twins and you have a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully the service was above par, so the evening wasn't a total wash; but ACD desperately needs to consider lowering their prices... even an order of Franks and Beans will set you back $12.50 (that's two hot dogs and some canned beans.) So much for 1950's prices... Try 2050.

Atmosphere: D (Loud, lots of kids.)
Burger: C-
Fries: C (Smallest basket, I've ever seen)
Price: F (Almost $20 for a burger, drink & fries? They better be good... and they're not.)
Service: B
Overall: D (At least I got in, out of the rain.)