I love the Brooklyn Diner because it has made West 57th Street near Carnegie Hall a great place! I actually would rather be having an egg cream and burger inside Brooklyn Diner than to be inside Carnegie Hall attending a violin concerto but hey, some people do both in one evening! I love the fun atmosphere due to the retro 50’s style booths and colorful floor tile. There are plenty of Yankees tributes on the walls and small gold plaques at booths names for both famous and infamous regulars who have sat at them. I got the Clive Davis booth (which is in the center of the front windows) on my most recent visit.
I had not been to the Brooklyn Diner in a long time but I recently went back and not a thing has changed save for several additions to the menu. They still have the strongest lineup of high quality New York comfort foods anywhere in town–as well as some of the friendliest service. Let me add right here that your food comes out hot and fresh from the kitchen in only about five minutes, making it some kind of record for The Big Apple!
The Brooklyn Diner recently added a fabulous al fresco dining area (just right of the building when you are traveling west) that was once just a public space with benches. It will be staying open through October and it kind of gives out the vibe of a French bistro, to be honest. I love the red and beige woven wicker seats and the red umbrellas. Quite simply put, you cannot miss something this enticing when you are walking or driving by!
On my recent visit, my guest and I shared the most legendary entree on the Brooklyn Diner menu–the colossal Chicken Pot Pie that could probably serve six people! This is so popular not only because of the extra large and juicy chunks of chicken breast, peas, carrots and Pearl onions but because of the thick creamy sauce in the filling that is almost like a Bechamel sauce. I love the golden outer crust that can’t be matched on any other pot pie in town.
Speaking of legendary entrees, the extra long hot dogs are super popular at The Brooklyn Diner. They are pure beef and seasoned so perfectly. Because of being pan fried, they have a crisp outer skin that crackles when you take a bite! I did not have this on my most recent visit but have ordered the basic dog with sauerkraut many times in the past. This is hot a New York hot dog is supposed to be!
The second dish that my guest and I shared was the Pollo Cubano which proves that the Brooklyn Diner can excel at more sophisticated cuisines from around the world. This flavorful dish is made up of grilled chicken, Spanish rice, caramelized onions, pico de gallo and cilantro sauce. The rice is accented with a lovely mix of herbs and lemon. Pollo Cubano is the perfect light summer dish. A great dinner for two people who are health conscious would be to split the Pollo Cubano and one of BD’s enormous multi-vegetable and wild greens salads.
The Brooklyn Diner is famous for its large desserts. It goes without saying that any restaurant with the word “diner” in it should have portions six times the size of anywhere else. The Brooklyn Diner’s generously portioned desserts are all top quality and house made with the finest ingredients. The regular New York cheesecake pictured above is simply perfect because of its creamy and not-too-heavy consistency. If you ever have a friend in from out of town who asks you to take them for “really good New York cheesecake,” take them to BD and they will not be disappointed.
Here is yet another version of the Brooklyn Diner’s homemade cheesecake. This is the Strawberry Cheesecake which just happens to be served with a side of homemade chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Why am I running two cheesecakes in the same review? Just because the cheesecake is my favorite thing at any diner!
Let me add right now that the Brooklyn Diner also excels at breakfast food and that their buttermilk pancakes are also the stuff of legend. This portion is big enough for two to share and you will be delighted about how big, golden and fluffy these pancakes are. There are plenty alternatives to maple syrup if you want something more daring on your pancakes. Yes, you can even get the same homemade chocolate sauce that is served with cheesecake here–as well as blueberry sauce and several kinds of fruit. (Did I just fail to mention whipped cream, which is “de rigeur” in my book for any pancake topped with fruit?)
I cannot wait to go back and check out the al fresco dining area again at the Brooklyn Diner. I can’t think of a better spot to get away from the office for an hour and share a hearty meal and a laugh with a good colleague or two! For more info, go to brooklyndiner.com. There is also a Times Square location. Prices are moderate (most entrees are priced at about $20 to $26). Dress is casual and families are welcome.
(Al fresco dining photos by Giada Paoloni.)