I’d like to think that I’m a pretty patient fellow, but nothing’s worse than waiting and waiting for a restaurant to open, in part because we tend to wait a couple of months to give the management and staff time to work out the kinks before we visit a new place. We’re not in Atlantic Station very often, but Ron Eyester’s latest restaurant, called simply Diner, sat so enticingly for so long. I enjoy Eyester’s work a whole lot, and he’s often very funny on Twitter (a plus), so when the stars lined up just right, I was so glad to stop by.
Now, sure, we’ve got a few diners in town already – although nowhere near as many as they do in the northeast – but by and large, these aren’t known for made-to-order cooking using sustainable ingredients from local providers. Diner gets ice cream from the local boys at High Road Craft, for example. The result is a menu that’s certainly not as dense as the gigantic books that you get at Landmark or Marietta, but I still had a hard time deciding what I wanted on my first visit. Everything sounded really good.
I settled on the fried chicken gyro, which has tenders with a tomato-cucumber salad, shredded lettuce, and a tzatziki sauce and I really enjoyed it. I happily paid the extra fifty cents to have some onion rings instead of fries, and totally loved that incredibly sharp and wonderful pickle. Everything tasted so fresh.
Having said that, I looked around for something else to say and realized that I needed to sample a little more than that. As I have said before, I don’t mind writing about a place after just one meal because I don’t consider myself in the business of “restaurant reviews,” but rather telling stories, and Diner absolutely felt like a place that had much more to share than what you could get with a single meal. So, a couple of weeks later, I went back for seconds.
On my second trip, I arrived hot, overheated, sweating, and downright worn out. We’d been working outside in the ninety-six degree sun over at my place of business, getting ready for a huge project. One of the adorable little design elements suddenly struck me: Eyester had selected some absolutely perfectly-sized glasses. While what I really wanted was the biggest cup of water in the world – one of those 64-ounce Big Gulp things, you know – the tables have these dainty little eight-ounce glasses like your grandmother had, or, you know, a northeastern diner. I drained the tiny thing of water and ice in one swallow, and asked to keep it coming. Since, as before, it was pretty slow inside – I wasn’t expecting it to be too busy at 2 in the afternoon but it really was pretty quiet – the service was quite attentive.
This time, I ordered the barbecue chicken sandwich, a boneless patty with cheese, fried green tomatoes, and a sticky sweet brown sauce like you might find in Memphis. It was a good sandwich; to be fair, I honestly don’t think that it’s as good as the chicken sandwich down the street at Chick-a-Biddy, and I preferred the gyro from my first visit, but it was still a fine lunch, and I loved the onion rings and pickle again.
Diner isn’t doing anything mind-blowing, but I left satisfied and pleased on both visits. Some vultures have been circling online, saying that business is even slower than I observed (Wyatt Williams of the AJC was particularly harsh in his review), but I do plan to be back.
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