Over the Summer I heard whispers that not one, but two American style diners were set to open in Canterbury this Autumn. Obviously, now I no longer live in London so I can no longer hang out at The Diner at weekends, this news got me rather excited. Now one of these diners is rather pedestrian (Ed's Diner in Whitefriars), but the other was a complete unknown: enter the brightly coloured, all American Elsie Mo's Diner on Burgate.
They have an extremely extensive selection of American beers, ales and lagers on offer, as well as classic American sodas, milkshakes, floats and £6.95 cocktails. Being a Saturday morning/ lunchtime, I just had to go for the Bloody Mary. It was not much like what I usually associate with a 'good' Bloody Mary, though it had a good hit of booze from the vodka. it had a really pleasant spicing, which I could have sworn had cardamom in, and while it is not what I'd class as a start among Bloody Mary's, I still really, really enjoyed it as a stand along drink.
Feeling like something a little lighter, Mummy went for the starter of crab balls, serves with a chilli jam and a side salad. God they were good. Big, generous fried balls stuffed with rich and flavourful crab meat, and the perfect size for a light lunch with skin on fries on the side (this is an American diner, after all.)
Never people to do things by halves, when my father and I could not decided what to order (so many delicious sounding classics!), I suggested we get the 'Mother Clucker'; a sharing platter for two (supposedly, we think it would be great for three or four) where you get a beer can chicken, two breaded fried chicken drumsticks, two barbecue chicken wings skin on fries, beans and slaw, all for £29.95. Feast time.
Now, I've never actually had beer can chicken before. I've had Rose's recipe for Beer Can Jerk Chicken with Pineapple & Mango Salsa bookmarked forever, and now I want to try it out more than ever. Elsie Mo's version was great and had a nice flavour, wonderful for just diving in with your hands. The legs and wings were wonderful and succulent, but the breast had dried out a little. Not the end of the world if you use the pieces to mop up any excess barbecue sauce. The atmosphere more than makes up for any minor issues with the food.
The barbecue chicken wings were my absolute favourite part. I'd order them again in a heartbeat (so succulent), and the perfect barbecue sauce has already made my mind up that the next time I visit I'm going to be going for the baby half rack of ribs smothered in the stuff. I have a suspicion that they may just give my favourite ribs in the city at The Foundry a run for their money, and that's saying something.
The drumsticks were also really succulent, though I did not enjoy the fried breadcrumb coating as much as I would had this been classic fried chicken, but they still would go down a treat with a couple of pints of beer. Basically, if any Diner has food better than Barney's Beanery whose various Los Angeles joints I've ended up in a fair few times which is my benchmark for passably good food to go with beer, you're onto a winner in the genre.
I was very impressed with the slaw, earmarking it as a side I'd order again. It was not too heavy with mayo, had a great flavour and still retained a good amount of crunch. However, I like all slaw equally, unlike my father who prefers them on the tangier side; he was not as much of a fan of this number as I was.
I can't really comment much on the beans, the one downside of the meal. I think they were perfectly delicious (though nothing for me will beat The Burger Bro's Pit Beans), but it was rather hard to tell because they were stone cold. They need to work on heating their dishes through before they serve the beans up in future, I think. However, while we declined as we had plenty of food on the table, our server did offer to fetch us a new dish.
Finally, the skin on fries. These were absolutely fantastic; crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle, you simply have to get a side of these with your order if they don't already come as standard. I'd also recommend them with a bit of ketchup or barbecue sauce to sit up at the bar with if you're just having a few drinks (though, they do have nachos on the menu too!)
I'm really, really glad we decided on an impromptu visit to Elsie Mo's on Saturday as all three of us had a fantastic meal, and I'm really looking forward to going back to try more of the extensive menu, probably with a big group of friends where we can cram into one of the booths, order a shed load of food and drinks and dig in.