The Bronxville Diner: Epitome of Average

A burger and fries at the bronxville diner. Photo credit: parley cook '17

A burger and fries at the bronxville diner. Photo credit: parley cook '17

While the Bronxville Diner may take some getting used to, Sarah Lawrence students would be well-advised to make the best of its proximal presence. Yes, their prices are not ideal, and yes, they’re still working out some management kinks. Given the place has scarcely been open for a month, however, one could make the argument that its potential is worth appreciating. Such a variety of food options is, at the very least, a welcome break from the usual Bates and Pub routine.

The newest addition to the Post Road family of diners, Bronxville's is the first to be located outside the south-west edge of Connecticut. The original Post Road Diner, located in Norwalk, CT, was built in 1947 by Paramount Manufacturers. The interior design of Bronxville's diner, and its two predecessors in the expanding family, is modeled on that original '40s and '50s aesthetic. Space inside is at a premium, and will probably continue to be so until the diner's novelty dies down—assuming it will. 

When I arrived there for lunch on Saturday, the place was abuzz with the chatter of appreciative Bronxville natives. Conditions weren't quite at the line-out-the-door mania I observed when first arriving back to school, but they came perilously close. This was exacerbated by the table outside, where the restaurant was giving away free samples of pumpkin pie and mini glasses of milkshake. For any curious parties: the pumpkin pie tasted exactly like the recipe Libby's brand has been printing on its cans of pumpkin since 1950—decent enough, but slightly boring. This, in hindsight, turned out to be a good description of the food I would order, as well.

Many students have insisted that the diner lacks authenticity because it fails to stay open at all hours of the week. Many more are adamant that the Pondfield Cafe outclasses it, despite only being open from breakfast to lunch and being located off the main Bronxville path. I can't speak for the difference in food quality, not having been to the cafe myself, but a glance at photos of their menu does confirm anywhere from two to four dollar price differences for entrees and desserts. Only time will tell if the diner's prices decrease as their business settles into regularity and earns back its opening expenses. With a bit of luck, maybe they will join the ranks of other local businesses that have elected to offer student discounts.

In spite of quite a few horror stories about wait times and slow service, my experience was no different from any other crowded restaurant. I only had to wait 10 minutes for a table and around another 20 for my food, which was significantly eased by the diner's proximity to the Bronxville Train Station Pokéstop. It probably also helped that I knew what I'd be ordering before I arrived. The litmus test for any diner, even in our tiny, prim suburb, should be the quality of its burgers, fries, and shakes. If a diner fails those standbys, it's practically certain to fail everything else.

The two mini-cheeseburgers were served with “PRD sauce”, which turned out to be simple relish and brown mustard, and came with a side of coleslaw (not indicated on the menu) and a disappointingly small portion of French fries. All were prepared just fine, though the fries needed more salt. I thought ordering this nearly nine-dollar entree might be more cost effective than the six-and-change dollars burger and paying three dollars extra for fries. Given that I got about a quarter-pound of beef, rather than the standard third, it's a toss-up as to whether I was right. My milkshake, meanwhile, tasted like...a standard chocolate milkshake. I managed to fill up on that almost more than the food, but paying five and a half dollars for it definitely stung. I was thankful for the small mercy that they didn't charge extra for whipped cream.

The Bronxville Diner will probably survive, and perhaps even flourish, in a town full of people who tend not to spare expense. The establishment's cheerful, predictable atmosphere and greater seating space gives Starbucks a run for its money as a bland hangout spot. Without some considerable effort, the food will never be particularly inspiring, but arguably that's not what this town needs. The diner is already making its case as a solid, consistent, and more down-to-earth place to eat than the vast majority of its competition. It stands as a baseline, around which every other eatery can be contrasted to great effect. And let's be honest with ourselves: with the new weekend hours at Bates making Pub traffic hellish, we're going to be grateful there's somewhere we can go to get a straightforward hot meal.

Parley Cook ‘17

 

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SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.