I have come to realize I enjoy spending the majority of my downtime alone. Perhaps it’s some solipsistic desire to feel singular in a city teeming with people, but I find going to the movies by myself so much more rewarding than sharing popcorn with a date; it’s imperative that I shop alone; and when it comes to going out for meals, a book is simply my favorite table companion. So when I picture the ideal diner, my fantasy always figures me alone, in the middle of the night, peering longingly into a coffee mug like a woman in an Edward Hopper painting.
Almost every day on my way to and from school or the gym, I pass University Place Restaurant on the corner of 10th street. Without ever stepping foot in the joint, I’d stumbled across some reviews online, many of them less than favorable. People complained about the outdated utensils and containers, the size of the tables, and their coleslaw-to-pickle ration – all while regretting to mention a single word about the environment and/or the food itself. Naturally, I had to see for myself. After leaving the gym famished and exhausted from a rare Sunday morning workout, I was ready to make the two block trek to University Place, fully intending to gorge myself in a post-Thanksgiving blur.
What I Ate California Omelette: Avocado, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and cheddar cheese. To my excitement, this was a damn near perfect omelette. The creamy richness of the avocado paired with the hearty mushrooms and tangy tomatoes created a savory mix inside a fluffy outer shell. The cheese was distributed evenly and didn’t take over the plate or crowd the oft-beleaguered home fries (overcooked just enough to maintain a delicate crunch, yet seasoned to melt in your mouth). Soo delicious, albeit a little on the greasy side, but that was of no consequence. I’d just been to the gym, after all. ($10.45)
Coffee: The coffee tasted, well, exactly how diner coffee should taste – a little too watery or a little too bitter, but when mixed with the proper amount of sugar and cream, just delightful. What’s great about diner coffee is that it gets the job done while still being dull enough to blend with whatever you’re eating. This is an essential quality. ($1.50)
Apple Pie: With Thanksgiving behind me, I found myself longing for my mother’s apple pie more than ever. The crust was good: not the greatest I’ve sampled, but sufficiently buttery and flakey. The apple filling, however, was heavenly. Now, I am not comparing a diner pie to some gourmet bakery (or to my mother), I am simply judging off primal instincts – what ignites the taste buds and hits the spot, no matter how bathed in syrup and sugar it may be. ($4.95)
Overall, University Place Restaurant left me feeling contented and stuffed. Yes, maybe I ate enough to feed a small family, but it was indeed worth it. On the Dale Cooper scale, it gets a solid 8.5.