Wednesday, May 16, 2012

French Fry Diary 372: Mastoris

Recently a friend of The Bride's, and a Trenton local legend, Randy Now opened up his Man Cave & Consignment Shop up in Bordentown New Jersey. We, along with her parents, looking for a nice drive to get out of the house, attended the grand opening. Great place, wonderful stuff, and there was a rocking band there opening day. If you're in the area, definitely stop by, it's worth it.

Afterward, we were still up in the Trenton area and we had the munchies, so after much discussion (there are so many different places to eat), we decided to go to Mastoris. This place is legend among New Jersey diners, in fact, it is probably one of the most famous, and the classiest of the New Jersey diners. I had never been, so this was an experience. I have heard both good and bad about the place in my time on Earth so I was interested in finding out for real. I also wanted to try the, duh, what else, the French fries.

Mastoris is a landmark, a piece of history. In existence since the 1920s, it is both a fancy and homey diner with extra rooms for larger parties, fireplaces in each room, and some folks even have their wedding receptions there. And as if to secure your having dessert one way or another, you have to walk through their luscious bakery just to get to your seat. They hit you here or on the way out, you will get dessert. We got a nice table near one of the fireplaces and our waitress seemed very nice and eager to please, especially to prepare our food however we wanted it. Regular readers know that's a plus for me, the catastrophically picky eater.

I was stunned when the waitress handed out the menus however. It was huge. I kid you not, this was a twenty-page menu, plus a two-sided one sheet with today's specials on it. Lifting the menu was a workout. They have to have everything, or at least that's what one would think, based on the menu. I shudder to think what Chef Gordon Ramsey would say. Frequently on "Kitchen Nightmares," that's one of his pet peeves, and he always cuts the menu down to one sheet. Mastoris would probably give him a conniption.

One of the things that Mastoris is most famous for is their cheese bread, and to a lesser extent, their cinnamon bread. Like the restaurant itself, the cheese bread is a thing of legend. I am always hearing stories of folks who will drive for hours to get some of this bread, and then take some home with them as well, thanks in no part to walking out through the bakery, I'm sure. I couldn't wait to be served, especially with that kind of build up. Now I might be blasphemous saying this, but here I go. The cheese bread is good, no doubt, but as far as I'm concerned, the cinnamon bread is to die for. Keep your cheese bread, just leave the cinnamon bread for me, okay?

When my burger and fries arrived (Oh come on now, you knew that was what I was going to get, right? If not, you haven't been paying attention.) the first thing that hit me was the sheer size of it. The burger was gigantic. I had to cut it in half just to attempt to eat it. This is where Mastoris gets an A+ for portion size, with the burger. It was good hot, but not so much when just warm. Despite the size and look of the ginormous hamburger, I have to say, it was only just okay.

The French fries were steak fries, standard from the grocer's freezer and deep-fried. They were really good, as good as those kind of fries get, mind you, and I really would have liked to have had more, but. And this is a big but, so big, Sir Mix-a-Lot would be happy. The fries came in such a ridiculously small portion compared to the giant portions of everything else. Not as small as at Denny's last time, but still. Speaking of the big portions - on everything but the fries - we walked out with five Styrofoam containers, none of them containing fries.

Just so you don't think I'm being psychotic (well, not that psychotic) about the portion of the fries, it should be noted my father-in-law also got the steak fries, and there weren't enough for him either. The mashed potatoes were also quite good, although they weren't from my order.

On a side note, I thought the service was quite good, but my mother-in-law felt it was the worst service she'd ever gotten at Mastoris. She said that they were usually more attentive and personable. I was floored by this. Our waitress was twenty times nicer than at, say a Denny's or an Applebee's, but then again, I guess that says a lot, doesn't it? We must have gotten our waitress on a bad day, I'll have to go back. All in all, it was a good family afternoon dinner. Good times.

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