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18 Ganton Street
As its up-front moniker suggests, this chain re-imagines the classic American diner of a million movie scenes through a London lens, with red vinyl booths, vintage car pictures and booming 60s’
music offset by dim lighting. The large menu majors on US staples such as hefty hot dogs, enticing burgers and all-day breakfasts, in addition to roadside classics such as meat loaf and mash.
Burgers are generously thick, but lack the tender and juicy ‘wow’ factor; comforting sides, however, cannot be missed – try gooey chilli-cheese fries or crisp beer-battered onion rings. Warm pecan
pie with whipped cream ends an inevitably calorific meal on a high. For drinks, look to the full-on cocktail bar and sizeable wine list. The Diner recreates the archetypal experience lovingly,
apart from the service: the occasional ‘have a nice day’ would go a long way.
18 Ganton Street
Oxford Circus Tube Station 297m
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station 473m
Kingly Street 29m
Carnaby Street 53m
Mon-Sat 9.30am-12M (Sun -11.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 2
Firstly, I am an American who is intimately acquainted with “diner culture” and I love it. I have eaten in diners all over the world and have even worked in them. I have seen diners with every theme and style from Jewish Deli, to retro martini bars, to bumper cars, roller derby, and even aliens.
I went into “The Diner Soho” with minimal expectations. I expected some of it to feel a bit gimicky, and I expected that the food would have English overtones and wasn't looking for total authenticity. Sadly even my managed expectations weren't enough to prevent me from being dissapointed.
The decor was reasonable and the familiar group of diner condiments at the end of each booth suggested a good start. The weather was good and there were tables set up in front and all of the large windows were open. Unfortunately, this meant that the clouds of cigarette smoke from the section wafted continuously into the interior dining area.
I went for dinner on a week night and the restaurant was less than half full. Unfortunately, it was seriously understaffed resulting in very slow service (compounded by a distinct lack of urgency and motivation in the staff) There were dirty dishes and glasses on the bar and the tables from previous customers which made everything feel a bit cluttered and less than sparkling. It lacked the hustle and bustle of a true diner where one could expect service staff zipping about giving water and coffee refills and bussers flipping tables faster than hotcakes.
The food was really poor. The burger was pre-formed, low quality, dry, and frankly tiny even by local standards. Also, since when do hamburgers not come with french fries in a diner?! Al-a-Carte dining is not really appropriate for this genre.
The breakfast burrito was just sad. It really should have been a soft, fluffy, floury thing, with potatoes and salsa approximately the size of my head! They completely failed to acknowledge that Spanish chorizo and Mexican chorizo are completely different. The eggs were dense, the tortilla was cold and hard, and everything in it had amalgamated with the chesse to become a greasy mess. Insult was then added to injury with the addition of a wilted lettuce leaf and sour cream and guacamole that had more or less the same texture. Think squeeze bottle.
I was hoping a side of hash browns might redeem the meal, but they were miserable little frozen triangles that had been thrown in a deep fryer rather than a heart stopping mound of crispy fried thinly grated potatoes cooked on a griddle. I really could have cried.
In the end it didn't just fail as an American-style diner it failed in general as a restaurant. I wouldn't go back.
Food + drink: 1
I eat out quite a lot and this one of the worst dining experiences I've ever had. Inattentive service can be excused if the food is good but the food was simply terrible. I ordered the meatloaf, mash and greens. What arrived was almost inedible – runny watery mash that could have been used as wallpaper paste, overly black-peppered greens and bland meatloaf (or was it cat food) covered in congealing gravy. My partner's burger was not much better. He asked for it medium and what arrived was extremely well done. ‘Cheesy fries’ were far from cheesy – with only one tiny blob of melted cheese in just one spot. When the waitress asked if everything was ok we said it wasn't great to be honest but she just sort of smiled and walked off without investigating further with us or even apologising. She either didn't care or knew that they serve dreadful food – probably both though in actual fact. I'm not a fan of McD's or Burger King generally but I think even they do better food and at least you know what you are getting there. There are plenty of other places to eat near the Diner – so go to one of them and avoid the Diner.
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