February 19, 2012

My Breakfast With Sylis: Reviewing Andy's Diner

Here's a fun lil' fact about me: I love diners. No. You don't understand. I. LOVE. DINERS. I don't know if it's the night owl hours they keep, the readily available breakfast at any time of the day or the general air of sexual permissiveness they support. At any rate, my priorities are God, country, diners, etc... (don't worry, family is pretty high up on my "etc..."). There is nothing like a good diner. A place where you can kick back after a night of whiskey and bad decisions, get some pork roll and maybe break down a bathroom door or two. Conversely, there's nothing as bad as a bad diner.

And so, it is with a heavy heart I present my review of Andy's Diner.

Please understand that this pains me to write. I am a huge proponent of local businesses. I will gladly pay a little extra to support the local guy over the conglomerate every time. So long as the differential in quality is relatively negligible.

That brings us to my recent experience at Andy's Diner in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. I've eaten at Andy's a handful of times since it opened a few years ago. And while I was never wowed, I always left thinking it was serviceable. Damning with faint praise?Sure. That all changed with my latest excursion.

Andy's is a 24 hour diner with a bar/pub attached. Convenient if you're trying to get your eggs within walking distance of your kegs. Being that they are legally required to stop serving alcohol by 2am, the bar area becomes somewhat of a dead zone at that point.

To my specific experience...

I approached Andy's main entrance and observed the host (whom I recognized from my previous trips to the diner) and another employee enjoying a cigarette by the front door. Despite my passing directly by them, neither came to the host desk to seat me. A waitress who I happened to make frustrated eye contact with sat me. She then signaled for the host to come inside, which he did approximately 5 minutes later. Perhaps this was his break.

The waitress who sat me did not wait on me. She seemed to fall off the earth, actually, as she was the only waitress I didn't see pass my table. The waitress assigned to me seemed to have every customer in the diner as well. This, despite the plentiful staff and relatively low amount of guests at 3:30am. Odd.

I ordered a coffee and ice water. I received my coffee only. Perhaps there's a shortage of ice water I don't know about. I ordered my food at the same time as my beverage(s). 2 eggs, scrambled. Scrapple (aka pig's asshole, but it's delish, trust). Home fries. White toast. I decided I'd remind my waitress of my ice water order when she came to check on a refill for my coffee. I never got that opportunity. Not for lack of time. No. I waited approximately 20 minutes for my food. 20. Minutes. For eggs, scrapple, home fries and toast. At 3:30am. Ok.

And by the time my food came, I was so inwardly amused and befuddled by everything that I ordered an orange juice just to see if it'd come before I finished my meal. Ah, yes. My meal. The focal point of my early morning pilgrimage. Oh boy.

The home fries are best described as home cake. Over cooked and singed to the point of being welded into a dry, flaky mass. I'm not a ketchup guy, but the exception was made here. The scrapple was...scrapple. I mean, it's quite literally the inner ring of a pig's anus. The eggs were adequate, if not underwhelming. I've had some debates over this, but I prefer my eggs to err on the side of fluffy. It's a matter of class (peace to the 1% who get that reference). I have to award points for creativity on my white toast. It was a variation of white toast that's best described as totally burnt. Brilliant re-imagining on a breakfast food staple.

The waitress did come by to ask if I needed anything. I was too timid to ask for a vat of water to choke down the home cake and "white" toast. I opted for a coffee refill, which she was quick to accommodate. Interestingly enough, as I was composing my notes on my...meal(?)...I noticed the waitress seemingly watching me. I wonder what she saw. She then produced a check. Slow with the food, quick with the check. I felt right at home.

I know I sound like a total asshole. But I have this problem with incompetence. I truly believe the people working at Andy's Diner are capable of putting together a fine breakfast. And I understand that at 3:30am you may not be on your A game. And I'm not asking for out of this world quality and service. I'm asking for competence, damn it. Competence. It's what this country was built on. Being slightly above mediocre, yet not setting the bar at an unattainable height. And I don't want to single out any one person. Especially my waitress. They have the least control over the product. I know that. But they also have the most control over a customer's overall experience. A good to great waitress can make a mediocre meal seem much better than it actually is. And I bet my waitress was probably at the end of a long day, maybe after having worked at another job. So I'm not holding her up as an effigy.

I write this review with the hope that the owner or manager of Andy's Diner will read it. Maybe implement the changes in areas that require them. That's what's cool about the internet. I can have a shitty experience, write a review of it on my shitty blog, and the owner of the place the shitty experience occurred in can take my constructive criticism and better his business. In theory, anyway. I intend to re-visit Andy's in the future. I look forward to writing a review that is the polar opposite of this one. Maybe I'll even get some ice water.

Til then, this is Sy, reminding you to take some time to eat out with the one you love.

PS. My 10oz orange juice cost $3.30. Sup with that, Andy? You gotta be ballin with those prices!

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