Review | Written and photographed by Nathan Mattise
Trying to find out what defines a true “New York style” diner is hard. The Wikipedia entry for “Diner” seems to imply an NY Diner would be one that’s oriented toward Greek cuisine. Syracuse’s own New York Style Diner might offer a gyro every now and then but it’s certainly not their menu focus. My first experience there did uncover two very New York characteristics for the place: a busy crowd and higher prices than their Syracuse counterparts.
I heard good things about the New York Style Diner from reliable sources, so I took my latest issue of SPIN and headed over for a noon breakfast one Saturday. It’s a no frills local restaurant setup on the outside but inside is definitely a bit more diner-esque. There’s plenty of seating of all varieties – booth, table or countertop – and a large specials board is visible on each side of the restaurant.
Considering the place’s name, it’s interesting that they resisted the temptation to decorate the interior with NYC’s local imagery. You won’t find Lady Liberty or any Yankee garb lining the walls. However, the lack of over-decoration does give the place a rather clean look.
As previously stated, this place gets busy. There were some empty seats but the interior is large so it’s easy to get seated even if there’s a healthy crowd. The unfortunate thing about that is large constant crowds can definitely impact the experience. I overheard a table lamenting a 30-minute wait for their food after being seated (and later a lack of blue cheese available for their lunch option). There seemed to be only two waitresses working the entire room but mine did a pretty good job of checking in often and keeping my coffee hot (only complaint was she offered hot sauce, I accepted… but then didn’t get any hot sauce. Honest mistake that I didn’t remind her about in fairness).
The menu is the most New York thing about the diner. It’s pretty large (offers both breakfast and lunch in addition to specials), it’s slightly more expensive than the average ‘Cuse diner and everything has a NY-flair to its name. I opted for Anna’s Central Park – large white toast with eggs and a breakfast meat grilled into it (with a side of homefries for $5.75). Originally I was hoping to get corned beef hash involved, but I was told that would cost me $2.25 more (despite a side of hash being only $.10 more than a side of bacon or sausage). In the end I opted for the bacon.
Food was pretty good overall. This particular dish seemed like it could benefit from the toast and bacon being a little crisper and then the use of some condiment (either ketchup or hot sauce) to make it a fork-oriented meal rather than picking up the toast. Naturally, I ate it by picking up the toast. The homefries were very solid no matter how you ate them however – not too greasy but seasoned well and flavor. The portion was also just about perfect so that you didn’t feel overwhelmed but were comfortably full.
The New York Style Diner might not have lived up to the hype I was getting from friends, but it had its perks. The space itself is great for a diner. Their menu is large and varied. However, the crowds could make your visit less than it could be. Maybe drive by the lot first and proceed from there.
The Final Tab
Pros: Nice space, good menu (varied, large), solid food
Cons: Cost, crowds can impact service at times
Two out of Five (Just Eggs | Could’ve been better…)