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.