Londonist Reviews: The Diner Camden

By tikichris Last edited 113 months ago
Londonist Reviews: The Diner Camden
The Diner Camden

Remember that late night/early morning Waffle House pit stop on I-75 halfway between Hotlanta and Chattaboogie when the coffee flowed freely and fried eggs ran just how you like ‘em … or … how about that day at the Shore, sitting atop the Windmill devouring a steaming heap of chilli cheese fries with Bruce’s Born to Run blaring from some car radio barrelling down Route 36?

No? Well, if any of that sort of romanticized Americana sounded remotely appealing, consider a kinda-sorta rendition of the best of American road food at the newly opened Diner in Camden, where two quid for a proper cup of filter coffee with FREE refills had us whistling Dixie on a recent visit. The juicy California burger (essentially a cheeseburger with Monterey Jack and Guacamole) struck a nice chord as well, and the chilli cheese fries were equally wonderful in some musical metaphor way.

The setting’s good too: right round the corner from Camden Market with rooftop terrace seating. The Diner’s kitsched up interior reminded us New York’s Soho-gone-Southern joint, Tennessee Mountain, and even a teensy bit like LA and SF’s Big Foot Lodge (especially with the Diner’s hard shakes: alcoholic milk shake cocktails). The Diner is a fun and comfy spot to grab some grub and a good place to hunker down over a long meal.

As Stateside as the menu and ambience were, service was rather more reminiscent of dining experiences on this side of the Pond. Londonist’s dining partner opted for the ‘Lumberjack’ – a decent sized stack of pancakes with eggs and bacon. Unfortunately, by the time the syrup made it to the table, the cakes were already cold. Some butter would have been appreciated too. But, we’re willing to overlook a few foibles as the Diner’s still a young’un, only a couple of weeks old and worth us comin' back to (ya hear?).

Photography by Chris Osburn.

Last Updated 08 July 2008

Julie PH

Chilli cheese fries? Alcoholic milkshakes? Waffle House? Cousin Tiki, I believe I've just experienced my first twinge of homesickness. Well done, sir.

tikichris

When I saw chilli cheese fries on the menu, I got a bit sentimental as well. As for the Waffle House reference, I now regret writing it because it made me realize that it will be late December before I have an opportunity for some scattered smothered and covered hashbrowns.

Made ya twinge,
Chris

Amanda Farah

But is it open 24 hours? Because as any native New Jersian can tell you, the only point to diners are Sunday breakfasts and the fact that they're the only thing open in the middle of the night. That's the real way to keep kids off the streets...

tikichris

Me thinks it's only 8am - midnight but it's best to email/call them to find out:

info@thedinercamden.com
020 7485 5223

eas_e

Love these comments. LOL. and btw, Amen sister Amanda!

The burger was great. The chili cheese fries were AWESOME. I wasn't keen on the pancakes - they weren't fluffy or golden brown enough for me. I disliked the syrup too. It wasn't even Aunt Jemima (maybe it was - the English version of it? Dunno). But, with the rest of the meal and the FREE refills (joy!!), I'll be going back!

tikichris

True. Fluffier would have been better.

Siany

This place sounds brilliant. Hungry.

tikichris

Yeah Siany, you'd like it. Just let me know when you're heading over (I might wanna join ya).

- Chris

Dave

My only experience of this place is that it's just too damned busy on a Friday lunchtime - we couldn't get in the door! But, then again, where isn't? It's hard being popular...

Anyway, it's definitely a step up from the crumbling, dilapidated, orange 'Arizona' Tex-Mex eatery that was there previously.

Now I've heard reports from someone who has actually managed to eat there, I'm looking forward to making it through the door one day!

tikichris

At noon on Saturday we had the run of the place but by one it was packed to the gills.

Dave Knapik

The pancakes were not even remotely fluffy and the syrup did indeed taste quite weird. The service was abyssmal: we waited over 10 or 15 minutes before they even offered to get us a coffee. Free refills sound nice in theory, but if you can't actually find a waitress to get you that refill, it's rather pointless.

The cheese fries were okay, but they kinda got it all wrong. You don't just make fries then melt real cheese on 'em in the microwave. You need Velveeta. Some liquidy melted cheese poured over the top. It may not be very gourmet, but that's the way Americans make cheese fries. Yum. These were a bit sad.

I do hope to return for alcoholic milk shakes, but honestly, if you're in Camden and you want a burger, I can't believe this would beat Haché on Inverness Street. Similarly, if you want a fantastic American breakfast classic, the Camden Kitchen's Eggs Benedict/Royale is sublime.

tikichris

Sorry you had such a bad experience! I'm with ya on the non-fluffiness of the pancakes but still think the cheese fries were rockin'. Did you try them with chilli? I thought the chilli was excellent.

Rob

Not impressed. 3 of us went in to a near empty diner. We ordered our food & were then joined by 2 more friends. They then ordered. Everyone got their food bar myself & one of the late friends. Ok it will come soon...no in fact another 8 people on 3 different tables got their food before I did. When it finally turned up the order was wrong. I cancelled my breakfast as the rest of my group had near finished theirs. Other points were wrong toast order, shell in the eggs....weak maple syrup, top up coffee tasting of washing up liquid & a problem adding cinnamon to banana pancakes as that's not how it is on the menu...even though cinnamon is used for other dishes!!! I can only assume that the kitchen staff had a hangover & did not cope well with Sunday mornings as even though more people had arrived it was still only a handful of covers. The waitress who took the order was pleasant with a smile & the manager took off the soft drinks from the bill but this gesture will not have me ever stepping foot through that chain again

Londonian

I had pancakes in Camden. Not a large portion for the price but they weren't quite cooked and a bit raw in the middle, so that was fine as they weren't good enough to finish, anyway. The maple syrup gave the impression of having been watered down and there wasn't quite enough of it. I had to ask for butter. As many coffee refills as you like but given ungraciously by the waiter. I shan't be going there again.