Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stamford Area Brunches: Diner Alternatives

A lot of people love diners, but when I think of where to go for brunch, diners fall short in comparison to nicer places that are not much more expensive.

I'm on an anti-diner kick. We had friends in town a couple of weeks ago, so we went out for brunch at Parkway Diner on High Ridge. The pancakes I got seemed like they had been fried in loads of oil. Rather than fluffy and cakey, they were heavy and thin, and their edges were visibly oil-soaked. I ate them, of course, because they were pancakes, and I was hungry. The diner was packed, so I assume it's a popular place. Was this just a one-time fluke of pancake horror?
Other local diners:
--Springdale Diner: only been once.
--Curley's Diner: I'm scared of it. Is that crazy?
--Bull's Head Diner: enh.
--Lakeside Diner: a little better; tiny, but the food is good. See Chowhound reviews. Also, pics from a local blogger.
--City Limits Diner: a lot of people love it, but I just think it's OK. It's a diner. Like all diners, it specializes in large amounts of average food. That's nice sometimes, but not when you have better options.

I can recommend a few non-diners for brunch in the FC:

--Margot Cafe and Wine Bar. We haven't been there in a couple of months because my husband's disappointment when they are out of the quiche of the day is a pretty sad sight. Margot has a nice little brunch menu at what I think are excellent prices for the quality of food.

--My husband loves Tavern on Main in Westport. (We lived in Norwalk for one terrible year, so ate in Norwalk and Westport a lot.) The food is just damn good and the atmosphere is cozy. They've got fireplaces!!! It's great for the cooler times of the year.

--River House Tavern in Westport. We went there last Sunday, and despite there being 3 bees near my table, ducks with Elvis haircuts (I'm so not joking) swimming outside, and the waiter messing up my husband's French toast order, the brunch was very good. My spinach-cheese omelet was 12 bucks; compare that to 8 or 9 bucks at a diner, and the nicer, quieter atmosphere might be worth it to you. (Minus the bees.) I’ll blog more about RT later, because the crowd was so stereotypically upscale FC that I almost could not focus on my food. Let’s just say, I saw an ascot. Plus, I've got to give you a look at those ducks. I took pictures.

--Thataway Cafe on Greenwich Ave is a nice place to go for Sunday brunch. The food is quite good, and you can shop afterwards.

--I know the Greenwich Hyatt has a $55 brunch, but I can’t justify paying that. That is whack. I think Bloody Marys are included, though. It did get voted best brunch in the FC, but is it worth 55 bucks? Actually, maybe it is, if you drink enough Bloody Marys.

--I hear on Chowhound that Saltwater Grille has a $25 brunch buffet. The menu looks OK, but it doesn’t start until 11:30. Note to self: try SWG sometime, even though I have had mixed experiences there.

I rarely go out for brunch. We just eat cereal and frozen waffles, but when we have friends in town, we go out. When I want to treat myself to a decadent breakfast, I drive over to Liz Sue bagels and get a bagel with a double side of veggie cream cheese. That’s what I did this morning. Now I'm craving pancakes after this blog post, but I'll just pop some Eggos in the toaster and drench them in syrup.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Diners suck I never go . Cheap ass food.

Irenesbooks said...

Liz Sue's the best! Thataways is not bad either. I always wanted to go to Margot's but have found no takers so far.

Don't go to the Hyatt, it's not worth it.

And don't talk to me about Parkway Diner! It's the pits!

Julie said...

The Brewhouse in Norwalk has a brunch. We haven't been yet but it is $28 or so p.p. and was recommended by two of the judges I work with. I think that includes drinks as well. An ascot? Really? I hope you took a surreptitious picture....

Dora said...

The diners around here are pretty expensive (for diner food), dismal and disappointing. My fav was Stamford Diner on Summer St., but that's now a bank. I figure if I want pancakes and waffles and burnt coffee, I can do that at home pretty cheaply.

Always Home and Uncool said...

I've grown more and more disenchanted with Parkway. You are right on the pancakes, plus it has gotten very expensive and the service is terrible (always waiting around for a coffee refill or the check). Lakeside is good, but run across the street and bring over a Dunkin' Donuts coffee -- Lakeside's is the worst.

And you have every right to be frightened of Curley's.

MacKenzie's on High Ridge (by Mrs. Green's) may have brunch now.

Anonymous said...

How about Brunch up in Scotts Corners? Great little diner, food is fresh and they have outdoor tables in the summertime. They close early on sundays tough.

Or if you want to go for a fancy brunch, there's long ridge tavern and silvermine tavern in Norwalk.

Anonymous said...

Ducks are probably Mergansers, either Red breasted or hooded. They are diving ducks and are now in the process of migrating here for the season.

J from CT said...

Another vote for Liz Sue - I used to go there twice a week for a bagel and coffee, take it up to the commuter lot near exit 35 and relax before jumping on the Merritt. New job though, and I live right next to 95, so I only hit up Liz Sue on a weekend.

Curley's is more about the 3:00 AM visit than anything of actual quality. For a long time it was the only place to get anything in town at that time. The diner on Summer was the Century Diner, and I think they fiddled around with hours. Sometimes they'd be open 24 hrs on a weekend.

I think Lakeside is overrated save for their doughnuts. Bring a couple dozen into work and you'll be a hero. I think they make their coffee from a vat of lake water they keep in the kitchen with a duck swimming in it - it's that bad.

Not a breakfast place, but for something decadent go to Shop-Rite on Hope St. right when they open and try a fresh glazed croissant. They'll even give you a tiny cup of coffee for free.

I know this is supposed to be anti-diner, but another diner that doesn't get mentioned is Pat's Diner on Jefferson. I occasionally talk a walk there while my car is getting serviced at Hank May's.

Mr. Z said...

As an adult, diners occupy an important segment in my diet: they are one of the few places (besides IHOP) where it's acceptable to order pancakes for dinner.

Dinner Pancakes are a completely misunderstood delicacy. Seriously, we should be embracing the dinner pancake, and here I find an entire blog entry dedicated to disparaging the fine local diners here in the FC.

Are the diners as nice as Margot's or Winfield's? No, nor should they be. If there's one thing we don't need in the FC, it's more of the same upwardly mobile dining establishments.

Margot has her place (a great brunch place to bring guests), but so do our diners!

Chris MC said...

There are two diners I will voluntarily patronize in the FC (and do) - Post Road Diner in Norwalk (I avoid Silver Star pretty successfully), and Blue Colony in Newtown off I-84. I eat brunch regularly at PRD. Usually it is a terrific bargain of a sandwich and excellent cheesecake at BC.

There are probably others, but I haven't been finding them much.

Dora said...

I forgot about the one diner that I like in this area: Orem's Diner on the Norwalk/Wilton line.

Mr. Z said...

I also like Post Road and I noticed today that the diner on the Darien/Norwalk line has been remodeled and is reopening under a new name.

For those looking for a non-diner brunch, Brasitas on East Main offers a Sunday Brunch now too...

Anonymous said...

I know you were blogging about diner alternatives, but I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Bedford Street Diner. I've been there a few times and it's pretty good- as diner's go.

Whitemist said...

I used to like diners till I found out about the people who run them, the cooks come off the street and change any time, many of the employees are illegals ( I don't mind that they are illegal, but I do mind the abuse they get for being so in the diner setting). I can usually prepare better food at home. IHOP is definitely better. And I used to go to them regularly. I would classify Margo's as a Cafe and is definitely good, just as most of the cafe's and restaurants mentioned here. I still have not gone to Bedford Street Diner, but might consider it if I get more recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Bedford Street dinner is good. The other dinners are terrible.

Anonymous said...

My personal favorite diner is Pat's. Yes it's a bit of a dive, but that's how diners should be. Elm Street is also a pretty good diner as well. Love their homemade donuts. Haven't been there is years, but the one on Long Ridge used to be pretty darn good.

gms said...

Stamford diners are expensive and not all that hot. I like Pat's, where the waitress keeps getting her boobs enlarged until they now overwhelm her chest. But the food is mediocre and not all that cheap, except for the quintssential diner deal: bacon egg & cheese on a hard roll for something like $3. Pie's pretty good, too.

Diners are for a good, cheap, greasy fried egg breakfast, at which most excel.

Long Ridge Diner has great donuts, but is, again, expensive when it comes to entrees.

The diner right down the street from Barnes & Nobel in Norwalk is the best in terms of campiness and authenticity, which is why I love diners, and why I am dinerfan on another board.

But no, they are not for everybody or for every occasion, and I just love their essential dive-i-ness and the grease experience.

I got in trouble once in Denver when I wrote an article in which I described my regular breakfast spot, the Butcher Block by the stockyards, as the kind of place where you can get food just like Mom used to make if, like my mom, she couldn't cook her way out of a popcorn bag.

patty said...

The lack of love for Lakeside surprises me a little in these comments. Forget the donuts - while they are superb, they don't come close to the pancakes. Heaven on a plate.

Manager Mom said...

I'm sad to say that the Parkway has gone straight down the toilet. It used to be our favorite place - I think when Lushe went and got all of those other restaurants, they lost focus on having good food.

You forgot Napa and Co brunch! It looks ridiculously good. Not on a laid-off mom's budget, but maybe if I skipped a mortgage payment or something...

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Napa had a brunch! I saw Steve Martin there the other night!!!

Anonymous said...

Long Ridge Tavern used to have a nice brunch, but I haven't gone there in ages. And of course the classic FC brunch is at Silvermine Tavern in Norwalk.

Curley's really isn't that scary. Or maybe it's just that I've gone so often that I'm immune to it. The people are nice, though admittedly the food is standard diner fare. (i.e., it's meh.) The best time to go to Curley's is after a night out at the bars, when all that will do is a grilled cheese sandwich and fries.

Anonymous said...

Went to Lakeside last sunday. It was horrible.
- coffee was awful
- eggs were not cooked as ordered
- chili was unidentifiable
- service was poor
Would not go back again

Bruce Beckett said...

As an Englishman, I luuuv diners but I'm very disappointed with the standard of diner in Stamford. Bull's Head is my local and that's really gone downhill. Shabby decor, poor service, horrible home fries, plus they always want to sit us by the ladies' toilet. My wife liked Orem's Diner in Wilton but I've yet to find one I really want to go back to.

Anonymous said...

Lakeside is more about the view. Stamford Diner was the best, but it burned down :( Bulls Head diner smells - it's horrible!

Yes, I can understand why you're afraid of Curly's Diner, but go for lunch. It's good. The poor woman did so much to keep that place - go and support her.

Anonymous said...

Bedford Street diner is great...I also had a great breakfast at the Court Square Diner Cafe on Prospect and North Street this past weekend, am i the only one who's been there since they reopened?

Anonymous said...

The only time I went to Court Square was right when it first opened. I didn't trust it because the waiters were all in suits, there was a white cloth over the table, the menu was thick and scripty and bound in leather, and yet it still appeared to be a diner. It struck me as one of those mediocre restaurants that tries too hard to be classy, but then merely comes off as Klassy. And mediocre. Worth trying again?

Anonymous said...

Mostly, I just miss Star Confectionery.

Anonymous said...

Back to Court Square...i think i'd like to go back to try out lunch sometime...on saturday we asked for the breakfast menu which was nicely laid out, but only one page. I ordered corned beef hash and eggs over easy, which was delicious and i would say was slightly better than it is at the bedford street diner. My boyfriend got french toast that was great (but hard to mess up anyway). I liked that the place seemed very clean and the waiters were all very friendly and attentive...no suits! lol

Whitemist said...

Court Square...hmmm. I should not comment cause I do not like the management, but it is a strange duck, call it more of a cafe with diner food. Since I know all about the inside info on the "Closing" and "reopening". I will kept my mouth shut unless someone asks. I know that the HD had many essential equipment for breakfast taken out when they were purported to be "bought out" and replaced by Greek food (hence the suits) and no breakfast for a short time. I assume they replaced the removed items and continued without Kahn's approval since the manager/owner(?) came back to revive the old Court Square. The back room kitchen while cooking could get messy, but I do have to vouch for cleanliness and the cooks always did an better than average job. The waiters were always good (but could get temperamental, like in a regular diner). You would almost always be greeted from a far table by the manager/owner (unless she didn't like you or was in the middle of yelling at someone). So yes a diner with diner atmosphere and actually better than average diner food.
P.S. they also have a real bar which does vary little business unless it is karaoke night.

Anonymous said...

>I will kept my mouth shut unless someone asks.

OK. I'm interested. What is the story there?

Anonymous said...

Whats sad is all the places mention are pretty bad..

Bulls Head- People only go because its the only place open 24 hours and the location..Word of advice..Dont go into the kitchen! Once you do, you definitely wont go back here!

Parkway Diner- Its gone rapidly downhill.

Lakeside Diner- Coffee is absolutely undrinkable!! No coffee, no go for me!

Curleys- I wont even set foot in there!

Pats- Its not even a diner! Paper plates and just some scary looking stuff.. I dont like watching the cook sweating into my food.

Bedford Street- Not really a diner to me..Its like a coffee shop and below average.

I dont wanna sound like Im picky, but the only place left that is edible is probably City Limits. It is pretty decent, but extremely pricy..bring your wallets! $15 for bacon and eggs with coffee, tax and tip..or almost $20 for a bacon cheeseburger, fries, coke, tax and tip..Its definitely not somewhere to go every day and the service isnt what you would expect at that price, but it is a diner in the end.

Anonymous said...

Liz Sue?! Yuk. Thats not a bagel. Still looking for a real one in Stamford, I heard Village Bagel comes close.

Some of the best I've had actually come from a horribly named place called Bagels-4-U in NJ. Now THAT is a good bagel.

Stamford Talk said...

Nah, I was very disappointed with my Liz Sue bagel the other day. Cream cheese was too creamy, bagel was sorta soggy.

Anonymous said...

seems like everyone here hates all the diners in town so why do you go to them??!! hands down cleanest diner with good food and great owners is bedford street diner...

Anonymous said...

I think Bedford Street Diner is excellent. It's on the smaller side (a plus), family operated, and has some unique menu items... not to mention some tasty dessert choices.

Anonymous said...

I am not impressed at all with bedford..It seems like average to low end quality and nothing about the place to me screams diner.. Definitely better options around. Ill stick to City Limits

Anonymous said...

I am not impressed at all with bedford..It seems like average to low end quality and nothing about the place to me screams diner.. Definitely better options around. Ill stick to City Limits

Anonymous said...

I love the Bedford street! The quality of the food is excellent, and it has such a great atmosphere. Stick to city limits and you'll go broke!!

Anonymous said...

City Limits is alright. A bit overrated (and overpriced) in my opinion. I like Bedford Street because it's on the smaller side and the food is great. But hey, to each their own.

Anonymous said...

Pat's is the best.

Paul said...

I've been to Bedford Street on a friend's recommendation. The food is definitely on the plus side as diner food goes. Nice atmosphere... tons of free parking!

Gold Frog Digital said...

City Limits Diner SUUUUCCCKKKKSSS. Overpriced, small portions.

I endorse Orems in Wilton and when on a budget, the Family Diner in Norwalk.