Thursday, May 14, 2015

French Fry Diary 667: The Marlton Diner

I have known this building for well over two decades. It used to be the Denny's where dear friend Anne-Sophie waitressed, and where our Rocky Horror group would go after shows. Good times, but long, long ago.

When Denny's pulled out of the South Jersey area, the restaurant was repurposed into the Marlton Diner. As the quality of the food and service at landmark Olga's Diner down the street was going downhill, it was easy for the new restaurant to claim the limelight. And when construction and removal of the Marlton Circle temporarily closed Olga's, perhaps it was the Marlton Diner that put the last nails in Olga's coffin, finally out-dinering the queen of Jersey diners.

When the Marlton Diner first opened, the food was very good, of special note for me the onion rings and milkshakes. Over the years however, and perhaps it's the lack of competition, but the food and service are not what they once were. The Bride and I stopped going altogether when she and her friends got paper sheets in their meat, after it was cooked, and management didn't care, and did nothing.

My friend Marni was having work done on her car at the Pep Boys next door, so, since I had never officially reviewed the Marlton Diner before, I figured I'd give them a second chance, and kill two birds with one stone. First thing I noticed, remembering the old Denny's, besides the slightly smaller seating area than that older restaurant, is the hideous chef statue as you enter. I am sure this thing has given many a child nightmares after eating here. Hideous, and so not appetizing.

The Marlton Diner was nearly abandoned when we went, save for the senior citizen crowd, one of whom was out in the lobby watching the TV both when we arrived, and when we left. Perhaps he was homeless? When we were seated, I found they had Pepsi not Coke, so not a good start. With no one to wait on, we listened the staff talk shop and how much they hate their jobs, and the customers. That's not quite the kind of pre-dinner entertainment I expected, but it passed the time.

I ordered my Medport Diner (the best diner in my area for my money) standby, breakfast potatoes (called home fries here) and onion rings, which in the past had been quite good. The home fries looked great, even the waitress commented so. They were however only semi-warm. And they tasted a bit off, as if they'd been sitting on the grill since the morning. They were very crispily done though. But that doesn't help if they make me sick, ya know? The French fries, which I spied at another table, were, I think, battered and regular cut. No matter, as I recall, the fries at the Marlton Diner were never very good.

The onion rings, which as I said, I remember as being really good, were also kind of meh. Only warm, they also had that vibe of sitting around for a while. Marni, because of her predilection for special ordering, got freshly made food, but it was also only okay. I took most of the home fries and the onion rings home for later. At the old Marlton, and current Medport, reheated potatoes and rings were always pretty good. Not this time. I ended up throwing it all out, as it all tasted off.

This is not high marks for this place. I have avoided the Marlton Diner for a while, and this encounter pretty much cements that I'll continue to do so. Shame.

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