Monday, April 8, 2013

Fire Breathing Toaster: Who Cares About Truth at the Silver Diner?

by Bill Adler

I had lunch at the Silver Diner in Tyson's Corner, Virginia yesterday. Don't misunderstand what I'm about to say, because I like the Silver Diner. I like all diners. I have a soft spot for tuna melts and for breakfast for dinner. I think bacon goes with everything, and soda glasses should be the same size as gasoline containers for two reasons: They not only have more of the good stuff in them, but you don't have to try and flag down the waiter who's busy looking elsewhere and doesn't see you.

Diner food is I-don't-care-what's-in-it food. You don't go to a diner because you're looking for haute cuisine, and you don't go to a diner because you're looking to shed a few pounds by next week. You don't go to a diner because you're curious about the new cuisine that the chef has invented, or the fresh ingredients that the chef meticulously hunted for at 5 AM.

Yet diners can surprise you sometimes, and I was surprised by what I saw on the Silver Diner menu: heart healthy food. Kind of. They don't exactly call that section of the menu "Healthy Foods." It's "Healthier Foods" and includes morsels such as Firefly Farms Goat Cheese Bruschetta, with 508 calories, 24 grams of fat and 8 grams of saturated fat, and a Gluten-Free Ultimate Waffle, which sports 555 calories, 23 grams of fat, and 7 grams of saturated fat.

(Keep in mind that some 20 percent of restaurant meal calorie counts are off by at least 100 calories, and not in favor of your waist size,

Things can get out of hand when it comes to restaurant meals. Take a look at the Bistro Shrimp Pasta from The Cheesecake Factory, with 3,120 calories, and 89 grams of saturated fat, or the combo meal at Johnny Rockets, a bacon cheddar double burger, sweet potato fries and Big Apple shake, which lets you leave the restaurant with an extra 3,500 calories and 88 grams of saturated fat. So I appreciate that the Silver Diner wants to make the planet Earth weigh a little less.

But here's the thing. While the "Healthier Foods" at the Silver Diner aren't something that you'd brag to your cardiologist about, they're not what a diner-restaurant should focus on, or even think about. When I go to a diner, I don't want to remember that healthy food even exists. It ruins the experience. When I buy Pepperidge Farm cookies at the supermarket, do I look at the nutrition facts? No way. I looked once and that ruined the entire package.

Going to a diner is like going to the movies. You want to be enveloped by the experience, you want to be part of a food fantasy. Do I need to know that Tom Cruise tripped while getting out of bed before he filmed a scene in Mission Impossible? No.

Let diners be diners. Please, Silver Diner, lose the calorie and fat counts. If you want to put cute little hearts next to foods that you think are healthy, that's okay, because it's vague enough. But I don't want to know that if I eat your California Omelette, I'm going to need an extra hour in the pool, or an an additional 2 1/2 hours of bowling, to burn it off.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," and "Outwitting Squirrels," He tweets at @billadler.

Fire Breathing Toaster is published on Mondays on the Cleveland Park Listserv. (Washington Tweets, which used to be published on Mondays is on extended vacation.)

1 comment:

  1. Note their tag line: We buy fresh and local--you eat well.

    I think Silver Diner is trying to find their niche and appeal to both the "I want extra gravy" crowd and the "I've got to get into a swimsuit in a few months" crowd. They probably can't successfully be all things to all people. But I do like their omelets. :)