The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Hash Browns
The unwritten law of diner food is that the dishes served are not intended to be palatable in and of themselves, but rather are intended as substrates for such condiments as ketchup, Tabasco sauce, and the bitter tang of lost love. As such, hash browns (or, in your classier dives, "hashed browns") are the perfect platform of starch, fat, and salt upon which to build your dining experience. A

"Eggs any style" really means "eggs either style," scrambled or fried. Theoretically you can order your fried eggs in a variety of consistencies, but "over medium" is likely to get you a shrug in most diners, followed by a plate of whatever type of fried egg the cook felt like making. "Poached" will get you a cold stare. Mentioning chives will get you ejected. B-

Of all things served in the diner, coffee is the most crucial. It's not that it needs to be good -- it won't be. The critical point is that the tables have coffee cups on them when you sit down, and that an upturned and empty coffee cup is regarded as a blasphemous sin against God and nature. Any diner that regards coffee as something you order, rather than something you drink to make it possible to order, should be investigated by the authorities. A

Biscuits and Gravy
Normally I don't have high standards for diner food, but I do prefer my "country gravy" not to have the taste of aluminum. Canned gravy goes beyond simple blandness and into the magical land of wood glue. Actual gravy made in the diner, on the other hand, can be merely bad and thus acceptable. A hint to tell the difference: if the menu says "our country gravy" it's probably made from something resembling scratch. If it says "real country gravy," it's can opener time. C

Chicken Fried Steak
This is what late-night/early-morning diner food is all about. You take a bad cut of beef. You dredge it in flour and deep-fry that mother. You cover it with gravy. Then you serve it with eggs and hash browns. Incredibly enough, after eating this 100% fat gram repast, it's still considered bad manners to fall asleep or die at the table. B+

More by Lore Sjöberg Back to The Shuttlecocks Homepage