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Friday, July 13, 2012

Columbia Eats: The Diner

I've been really excited about trying The Diner, Columbia's new and much hyped family restaurant. Other fellow bloggers got to it pretty quickly, along with local media, praising their take on Southern staples and unique twist and turns on a few of the classics. It opened with a bit of a rocky start, but critics have said they've ironed out a lot of their early issues and hit their stride. Hearing that, I decided it was finally time to take my turn at the wheel and see what was going on at The Diner.

The menu at The Diner is pretty lean and muscular, with staples like sandwiches, burgers, and very diner-ish, but still Southern fare. I decided to go for the blue plate special of the day, fried trout with Charleston red rice and a Greek salad. I had high hopes for this dish, especially the red rice, but for me everything about it was kind of one note. Nothing was bad, but the salad was a salad, the red rice had a little bit of tomato with some kick - nothing memorable - and the fried trout was well, fried trout. Everything was seasoned fine and filling, but just lacking that wow factor to push it over the top. My friends ordered the meatloaf and chicken fried chicken, both of which were also nicely done, but neither claimed to be extraordinary in any way. Though we weren't necessarily disappointed with anything we had, nothing quite lived up to the hype that the Diner has acclaimed since it's opening. At least, not entree-wise.

Lemon-berry marscapone cake. Yum!
Desert, however, shimmered a little more with a nice variety of cake and chocolate dishes. Best of all was this lemon berry marscapone cake. Creamy, sweet, with a little tartness from the berries and sauce, it was a charming bite that sent the meal off on a much better note. I would come back just for a slice, and I very well might since there's a lack of great affordable cake slices around town. Compared to other desert dishes, this was definitely a bang-for-your-buck choice as well as the slice of pecan pie and brownie offered was just a bit on the small size for the same price.

Though I was disappointed in my experience, The Diner wasn't bad by any means, but rather simply just another solid, new offering for the Columbia area. In many ways, I think I still would rather frequent a place like Yesterday's which offers much of the same fare. The Diner is a touch cheaper then its Five Points competition, but for dishes like the meatloaf and chicken fried chicken, I believe Yesterday's edges the Diner out on quality and quantity for that matter. There is still brunch at the Diner for me to venture to, which I have heard good, even great things about, especially their chicken and waffles. Outside of that though, the Diner is worth a visit for a little change of scenery at the dinner table, but it shouldn't be shifting the masses in its general direction quite yet from what I've had.

The Diner on Urbanspoon


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