American Express Gold Card’s Pop-Up Diner: Creatively Mixing Old & New American Cuisine

I had a rockin’ good time at the American Express Gold Card Pop-Up Diner which was in Williamsburg for three unforgettable days. Co-presented by reservation app Resy, the Amex Pop-Up Diner took place at 15 River Street in an empty lot directly across from the legendary Domino Park. While the oldies blasted, 75 privileged Gold Card members lucky enough to get reservations got to eat reimagined diner food created by the notable Flatiron eatery Rezdora. I was amazed at the outdoor setup which included colorful umbrellas, 1950s style geometric vinyl chairs and old-fashioned condiment bottles. The food came out amazingly quickly and was such high quality that it would even make the staff of the fussy James Beard Foundation happy. There were three choices each for entree and two choices tor dessert in the four course price fixe being served.

I just adored my appetizer which was a newfangled version of grilled cheese called Tigelle Pimento. The design on these baby sandwiches reminded me of the pattern on Pizelle cookies which are a popular Southern Italian Christmas cookie. The outside was soft, warm and delicately chewy since fresh dough was used. I would like to lean how to make these at home but I might wind up eating 80 of them! The pimento cheese used was definitely of an artisanal variety (as opposed to the original run-of-the-mill pimento cheese sold in supermarkets back in the 50s and 60s).

Next up was the amazing Classic Chopped Diner Salad made with assorted wild greens, red peppers and pancetta, then topped with an amazing homemade ranch dressing and parmesan cheese. I loved that local produce was used and that it tasted fresh picked. This salad was light and combined lettuces with different textures, some crunchy and some soft. I really enjoyed it. I have never had uncooked pancetta before and was highly impressed by the slightly salty taste and soft texture.

The three entree choices were something special. The first one was simply called Burger on the menu—but it was actually Emilia-Romagna with Cotechino sausage, salsa verde, tomato and a Parmigiano crisp. The second choice was Doppio Stuffed Tortelli which was actually tortellini stuffed with pastrami! The last choice was “Dolcetto O Scherzetto” Mezzaluna, which was half moon vegetarian ravioli made with Salvia and Amaretti and topped brown butter. The filling basically tasted like organic sweet potato mixed with butter—and there were actually sweet Amaretti cookie bits scattered about the plate. You can see it pictured above. This was a highly satisfying entree and I am glad that I picked it!

The two choices for dessert were Diner Style Nutella Pie and Dominique’s New Jersey Boardwalk Soft Serve. I chose the Soft Serve and I confess that I was crazy for the homemade shortbread pieces and citrus sauce that it was topped with. The frozen custard itself had more the texture of a high end frozen yogurt than the frozen custard that I grew up with at the Jersey Shore, but it was refreshing and memorable. I have been thinking about the buttery short bread pieces ever since eating them last night—and probably will continually be obsessed with them, LOL!

Just because the dinner ended did not mean that the fun for guests ended. Diners were handed gold coins to put into the Goldball Machine. Prizes included a Delta Airlines gift card for $1000, a Hilton Hotel gift card for $800, an Emily And Ashley gift card for $500 and an Amex gift card for $300. While I was in line waiting for my turn at the machine, I did not witness any big wins. I won a cute Amex Pop-Up Diner logo mug and my brother won the logo keychain. The machine had capsules with gold gum balls in them and while I was tempted to eat mine, I decided to save it as a cool souvenir of a memorable “retro” night.

Would I love to go to another Amex specially themed dining event? You betcha! Amex knows how to make a price fixe dinner into a truly special night! I have to also tip my hat to Reef, who creates beautiful outdoor event spaces and really goes all out on the “props.” You can see from the photo above that the Reef crew really got the 1960s NYC diner vibe going! I definitely would travel out of town for another event this special (this particular “pop-up diner tour” actually hit Philadelphia, DC and Chicago before making it to The Big Apple). I have an obsession with old diners and they are far and few between these days, so the Amex Gold Card Pop-Up Diner experience was really up my alley!

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