Let's be honest. If this were a regular Manhattan diner, it probably wouldn't be getting an Infatuation review. We're saving those for a separate special feature, where we eat nothing but NYC diner food for a month straight, and then make a gross but poignant documentary about it. So...see you in Cannes.
This, however, is not your typical Moonstruck Diner. This is cool kid restauranteur Mathieu Palombino of Motorino's new trendy diner in Nolita, which recently opened to all kinds of hype and food blogger frenzy. We'd like to chime in and politely ask that everyone relax.
Bowery Diner is (unfortunately) not the second coming of Florent. Such greatness will never be replicated nor can it be duplicated - copycat neon sign out front or not. Plus, the food at this new "hot spot" is mediocre at best. We expected more from a place with a fully stocked raw bar. We also can't really figure out why a place that takes the time to fully stock a raw bar can't bring it when it comes to the diner staples like burgers and pancakes? Is it because you don't have to cook those things? Because Moonstruck is kicking your ass on them.
Ultimately, breakfast is the time to visit the Bowery Diner, because that's where we found a few of the things that earned the restaurant a handful of points, and especially because some of the very same food that you'll find on the dinner menu is cheaper when it's light out. Unfortunately, the service sucks all day long. Are you a college kid who knows how to roll a joint but has zero experience waiting tables? Congrats, there's a summer job waiting for you at Bowery Diner. We'll be sure to come on in and ask you to do nothing.
Surprisingly, these medium sized clams were the best thing we tasted on the dinner menu. The garlic broth was excellent, and the clams were delicious. When we asked our waiter what was in the random bowl that came with the clams, he had no idea, and didn't make any effort to find out. It turns out it was duck fat, which we managed to figure out after the clams were all gone. Oh well. For nine bucks, it's a steal.
This was more like a charcuterie mixing bowl than a plate. Very strange. The duck pâté, bacon, pork loin, mortadella, petit jesus, soppressata & prosciutto were all massively portioned and very forgettable. Skip it.
Mac & Cheese
Let's just say this - we did a dinner with eight people here. We ordered a mac & cheese, and half of it was left on the table. Enough said.
They've gotten a lot of love for the smoked meat sandwiches here, specifically the reuben. It's definitely good, but it's definitely not incredible either. The pastrami on ours was a tad on the dry side, and the cheese was lumpy and cold instead of melted and smooth. The frustrating thing is that when I went at lunch - when the sandwich is only $11 - they were out of it. So I was a little bitter about having to pony up $16 for the same sandwich at dinner.
We were tempted to go with the Bowery Special (a beef patty topped with pastrami), but decided to keep it simple to see how their basic diner burger fared. Well, they failed the Infatuation burger test. This burger is a joke. There are two dry, super thin griddle patties set on top of one another on the driest burger bun you've ever tasted. It tasted like it was stale.
The common theme here is that the seafood dishes seem to be the best bets. A filet of seared tuna sits underneath a stack of bibb lettuce with a bunch of typical nicoise fixins. We'd get this again for sure.
One of the better dishes we had for dinner, the hanger steak was solid, yet unexciting and at $24, can certainly be passed over.
We have high standards when it comes to fried chicken, and this one just wasn't very good. If it's late and you're craving fried chicken, go to Blue Ribbon Brasserie. The meat was moist and perfectly cooked, but the skin was missing that fatty crunchy salty goodness that makes fried chicken the cigarettes of food.
These pancakes made me wish we were at Clinton St. Baking Company where they take their flapjacks seriously.
Delicious and served with a couple small slices of bacon. Order it.
Corned Beef Hash
This was pretty delicious, albeit a little smoky for some diners at our table.
AKA the Colombian Breakfast with two sunny side eggs, sausage, avocado, beans, plantains and the biggest, thickest slab of bacon you've ever seen. Unfortunately, the thick, fatty pig was inedible. Instead of eating it, we gave it to the baby to use as a chew toy.
You can order up eggs however you like them. We went scrambled with potatoes, spinach, onions and what was supposed to be cheddar. They forgot the cheese. Not surprising.