Diners in London - Closest to the Real Deal
The USA's influence on the way the world eats is vast, and reaches much further than the processed junk and Day-Glo fizzy drinks that seem to get it all its bad press. Sure, hamburgers and hot dogs are hardly going to win any healthy eating points, but neither do they have to always involve mechanically-recovered-meat and frozen fries. But the Great American Diner is about more than the food - it's an icon of prosperity and comfort and convenience, a gleaming symbol of the Golden Age that's just as potent today as when they first started appearing back in the first half of the last century. Here are my picks of the closest London has to offer to the real deal.
Judged on appearances alone, Fatboys has the whole diner thing absolutely nailed. It’s honestly as authentic a recreation of a 1940s roadside diner as it’s possible to find outside North America, and in that respect is a towering achievement. That the food doesn’t quite live up to the chrome-plated promise of the décor, then, is possibly unsurprising, but it’s not all bad – pancakes are made fresh, burgers are decent and it’s difficult not to enjoy a peanut butter milkshake.
Mishkin’s doesn’t even pretend to serve completely authentic US diner food. They call themselves a “kind of Jewish diner with cocktails”, which I couldn’t put better myself; it’s comfort food, and certainly American influenced (Reuben sandwiches, sliders) but with a certain charming British twist – this is a place you can eat a Brick Lane salt beef beigel (NOT bagel) washed down with a pink gin Sazerac, but enjoy it in a nice comfy leather booth as well.
You wouldn’t normally find salmon, capers and lemon confit on a traditional US diner menu but this is Notting Hill, where normal restaurant rules don’t apply. But you can still find an excellent cheeseburger for a very-reasonable-for-the-area £10, a £8 hot dog, and plenty of dark, cosy leather booths to enjoy them in. There’s also a great selection of craft beers, and if you want to go and see the Avengers in the cinema upstairs you get 50% off the bill between 5-6pm. www.electricdiner.com
This tiny spot in (again, amazingly) Notting Hill oozes atmosphere; Americana memorabilia adorn the walls, the attractively retro booths are soft and inviting, and the menu is an incredibly well-priced trip through diner classics – burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, pancakes, you know the drill. As a nod to food trends they’ve recently added American cereals to the breakfast menu at £4.25 a bowl, but otherwise this is as traditional as you can get. www.lucky7london.co.uk
OK perhaps the Big Easy is stretching the ‘diner’ concept somewhat, as its concept is more Southern States Crabshack than East Coast roadside. But they do serve burgers and chicken wings and sandwiches with French fries for a not indecent amount of money considering the location, and any ambience lost due to the absence of cosy booth seating is gained from a general boisterous party atmosphere, cheap(ish) cocktails and live music. It’s difficult not to enjoy yourself at Big Easy.
Image Credit: Ben Sutherland, flickr
Cover Image Credit: Kevan, flickr
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Over the seven years Chris Pople has been writing the Cheese and Biscuits blog, he has written about nearly 500 different restaurants, which is far too many by anyone’s standards. During that time he has been lucky enough to be picked as one of the top food blogs in the Times, New Statesman and Esquire magazine, and for the last three years running has been named as one of London’s 1000 Most Influential people. He’s probably in a restaurant right now, scouring the menu for spelling mistakes and waiting for a martini.