It was my dad’s birthday the other day, but – for much of the morning, anyway – food was the last thing on my mind. The bulk of the morning focused on a meaningful Lenten recollection handled by the Most Reverend Ruperto “Stud” Santos, Bishop of Balanga, Bataan. After the recollection and Mass, however, we were all famished and hied off to Gram’s Diner for a seriously hefty, satisfying lunch.
You have to understand this about Gram’s: it’s been around for ages, my family has eaten there several times already, but I myself have never actually gone there. (Ironic, aye?) Some of my friends have placed it high on their list of go-to restaurants; some have also panned it rather dismally. But you all know how I am about restaurants: best to go and try it and then – and only then – decide if it’s as good as everyone says it is – which is precisely what I did when I tagged along with the rest of the clan for lunch.
Since the day was a typical early summer one (You know the sort: distressingly hot and humid.), we all opted for the bottomless iced tea. Now, while other restaurants serve their iced tea in glasses, this rule only applies to single-serve iced tea over at Gram’s. For the unlimited serve, one’s tea shows up in a frosty Ball jar with a rather fetching Quattro Stagione motif on the sides featuring fruit, flowers, and flowing calligraphy.
The tea itself is well-iced, lighter in color than the usual restaurant iced teas which are a rather dark brown (similar to the color of Newcastle Brown Ale, actually), with a rather floral aroma. Taste-wise, it’s even more surprising: the tea tastes deliciously of apple; gloriously tart, slightly earthy, and very refreshing to throats parched by the heat.
The Diner’s stock in trade pretty much involves American comfort food: steaks, chops, mac-and-cheese, Buffalo wings, milkshakes, and seriously heavy breakfasts.
My dad went for Gram’s all-day breakfast, specifically a platter bearing toast, bacon, ham, sausages, two sunny-side-up eggs with nicely runny yolks, and tubs of butter and jelly alongside. Oh, and – though not shown here – there was a generous plate of cottage-fried potatoes on the side, too. The bacon, according to Dad and my brother, was nice, crisp, with a good hit of saline smokiness. The sausages were average and the ham was a bit chewy, but the rest of the platter was pretty good.
My brother, on the other hand, went for the fish and chips. While the idea of an American-style diner serving a British standard is a ludicrous notion, these were actually pretty good. The chips – enormous salted-and-peppered potato sticks – sported crisp exteriors and properly steamy, fluffed and mealy insides. The fish, delicately seasoned cream dory, was meltingly tender beneath the crisp coating of batter. Something was missing though: proper malt vinegar! (All they had was ketchup, but that’s understandable. Still…)
My mother is quite a light eater and opted for the Slider Triplets, three sliders with a side of fries, thinking that it would be a manageable thing. She ended up sharing her plate with the rest of us because those sliders were huge! Roughly the same weight as a standard-issue fast-food burger, each slider was dressed simply with a bit of mayo and fresh lettuce and sported a thick, juicy patty that was deliciously, properly beefy, and cooked medium well.
As for me, I was craving pork so I went for the grilled pork chops with garlic rice and buttered veg. The chops were just thick enough and were seasoned with sage, salt, and fresh-cracked black pepper. Unlike many restaurant pork chops, these were moist and succulent, very tender and full-flavored. The rice was pretty good, but with the way the veg was cooked (al dente, but with plenty of butter) it felt a bit much.
All in all, it was a great lunch to celebrate what a great man my father is. :D