Last week, I grabbed my blogging partner in crime Sherin to almost perfectly replicate what used to be the first Wednesday in November when we both used to blog full time: a sweep around various press days to preview what will be in stores next Spring/ Summer, followed by a trip to The Diner in Soho for an all American table full of Diner classics. Sherin was with me when The Diner became my first ever 'Places To Eat In London' review back in 2011, so we were stupidly excited to be invited back to review their new menu. I've ended up at The Diner on dates, for weekend brunches with friends, and on both birthdays I've lived in London for, and I can wholeheartedly say that the new items on the menu can easily be categorised as 'a good thing'.
Lots of the old classics and favourites are still there (unlike that heartbreaking time in 2014 when I turned up and found out that they'd taken my favourite cocktail, Southern Iced Tea off of the menu and I had to re-create it myself at home), but if any burgers or things are missing, the menu says you can still ask for them to be made for you to order. So, it's a win win. New and exciting items I have not featured in this roundup are Bacon Jalapeño Tater Tots, Diner Meatloaf (bacon wrapped) served with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, and Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Waffles, served with slaw, onion rings, and bacon gravy.
A London weekend morning for me gets kicked off with a Bloody Mary, and what was already a favourite of mine has had a bacon, pickle and artisanal vodka upgrade. So, I had to Facebook message a shot of this to a meat loving friend the moment it arrived at the table, and it tasted fantastic. Bits of bacon and pickles are always great to nibble on while you're eating, and the bacon bits at the bottom of the glass really added smokiness to my drink. A bit fancier than normal, but not overdone like some of the Instagram-fodder Bloody Mary's out there. Sherin had a Bellini, so you can go down a more traditional route, too.
We order a bit of everyone, as you can probably tell from the pictures! Not new, but one of my favourites was our chicken strips: beautifully crisp, juicy and tender strips of chicken breast, served with a spritz of lime and a size of slightly spicy buffalo dip. I've had some particularly bad buffalo dressings in my time (the chicken wings from the lodge at the bottom of the slopes at the Sierra ski resort in Lake Tahoe in California, I'm looking at you, even if your breakfast burritos are fantastic!) but this one was perfect, and very more-ish.
My joint favourite item from the new menu has to be the corn dogs. Why have I never tried a corn dog before? I was brave enough to try a funnel cake smothered in hot fudge sauce on Santa Monica Pier once (don't do it), so why when I'm such a hot dog fan did I never try one of these smothered in American mustard? For the uninitiated, it is basically a (beef) hot dog on a stick, dipped in a cornmeal batter and deep fried. Very addictive, not too greasy, and utter bliss. While the portions are huge at The Diner, this is a starter and you get two, so something to share (with a basket of sweet potato fries, obviously!)
My other favourite from the new menu (I promise you this is your next Sunday morning sorted) is the gigantic stack of Red Velvet Pancakes, served with berry compote (both on top of the stack and layered between the pancakes), cream cheese frosting and a side serving of maple syrup. Okay, so they'll turn your tongue bright red, but they are surprisingly not too sweet and perfectly balanced. You want to keep on taking forkfulls, and along with Bacon Bloody Mary and a side of crispy bacon to dip in the maple syrup (yes, I have spent too much time living in America) this is basically my go-to London hangover cure now. Forget the Full English! Why The Diner did not move these from just being a Valentines Day special sooner I don't know.
Finally, what I have not told you about yet is that The Diner also has a new app: download it in the app store, and you'll always have their menu at your fingertips (so that you can plan ahead, or use it to order in), as well as the chance to earn rewards on your meal (like a loyalty card) which you can use towards money off of future meals.
Where are your favourite all-American spots in the city? Promise me that you'll go and try The Diner's menu first, but for a few more of my picks, then head around the corner to Dirty Bones, to Covent Garden or the King's Road to hit up The Big Easy, or south of the river to visit Porky's on Southbank.