We’ve all seen hundreds of American movies. Think, particularly, of those that are based in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and you’ll know what a typical American diner looks like. Now, squash all those images together so you have one really, really stereotypical American diner. Move that image to Hong Kong and you’ve got The Diner, a newly opened diner (obvs) on Arbuthnot Road.
With an abundance of red leather stools and booth seating, a black and white tiled floor, old jukeboxes (sadly not functioning), cheesy old school tunes (obviously not from the jukeboxes), authentic American licence plates and the tail end of a real 1958 Cadillac converted into a sofa, The Diner could not be more stereotypical if it tried.
The menu continues on this same theme, offering typically American fuss-free food such as ribs, chicken wings, nachos and a wide selection of burgers. Although there are a some soups and salads, including one called a “skinny soup” (the one dish that tells you how many calories it contains), coming to The Diner on a diet is not recommended.
After some interesting cocktails, including a bacon-infused Old Fashioned, we got started on a feast that, in true American style, probably accounted for two days’ worth of calories in one meal.
Apparently ‘starter’ at The Diner doesn’t mean what it means in every other restaurant, since our Love Me Tender Ribs were served after our main courses. Nonetheless, I’ll do things properly and start with them. I certainly did love these tender ribs. The meat fell beautifully off the bone, smothered in a delicious sweet and sticky barbecue sauce.
Since they didn’t have our first choice of burger (The Big John), we settled instead for the Memphis Burger – a beef patty topped with pulled pork, smoked cheddar, caramelised onions, dill pickles and more of that yummy BBQ sauce. The brioche bun was fluffy and delicious, with just a hint of sweetness. Beneath this, the ingredients weren’t as juicy as I had expected them to be, but apparently barbecued meat in Memphis tends to be drier anyway. The patty itself didn’t carry a great deal of flavour, but the other ingredients enhanced this. This is certainly not the best burger in Hong Kong, but neither is it the worst.
Having been initially against the idea of ordering the Southern Fried Chicken Burger, I actually enjoyed this much more than the beef burger. The buttermilk fried chicken breast was both crispy and juicy, and was packed full of flavour. It was unfortunately served a little on the tepid side, but I soon got over this when I tasted all its deliciousness.
We switched one of our regular orders of fries for one that was smothered in bacon bourbon jam. These fries had a beautiful sweet versus savoury flavour that I loved. The normal serving comes topped with cheese as well, but we didn’t want anything getting in the way of our bacon!
At the time we visited, the only dessert on the menu was a chocolate brownie. Initially we couldn’t even see the brownie hiding beneath such a ridiculous amount of cream. Since neither of us are particularly fond of cream, we scraped it all off and got down to the good stuff. I’d say it was more of a chocolate cake in consistency than a brownie, but nevertheless it had a wonderfully rich flavour that kept me going back for more.
Service, it must be said, was beyond terrible. Although the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy, we practically had to stand on the table and wave frantically in order to get any form of attention. Needless to say that even though there was a huge stamp across the bill informing us of their no service charge policy, we did not leave a tip. The total bill came to $670 for the two of us – not exactly equivalent to a true American diner, but neither will it break the bank.
Overall, although our experience at The Diner was somewhat mixed, I wouldn’t be against the idea of returning; it’s a fun, comically stereotypical spot that I can imagine would make a great setting for a raucous night out with a group of friends and a few shots of peanut butter vodka (yes, really).
G/F, 4-8 Arbuthnot Road
Tel: +852 2562 381
No reservations (except for the Cadillac sofa)