Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Daddy's Diner

1596 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10028, 212-717-2020,

Big Daddy’s Diner has a bit of an identity crisis. It tries to look 50’s retro but the music and wall décor speak more of the 70’s and 80’s. No matter the decade, the fact that there are nearly twice as many “kitchy” decorative pieces strewn around than necessary doesn’t hide the peeling paint, cracked pipes wrapped with duct tape and generally shabby condition of this diner.
Décor aside, the service here ranged from poor to unacceptable. On a very hot summer Sunday, we chose to combine two meals into one and dine between lunch and dinner. Consequently, Big Daddy’s was nearly empty and peaceful (except for the overly loud music). The lack of customers should have earned our waitress’s complete focus but she was still inexplicably flustered and got our drink order wrong.

When the busboy brought our food order, we saw that the coleslaw was missing and inquired. He informed us that they were too busy and had not made any. Huh? Well, now...we really like coleslaw with our sandwiches and might have ordered differently had we known that so we asked our waitress about it. She was surprised by this news and went off to check...but never to return. We ordered the sandwich with tater tots rather than fries and had no problem with the extra buck it cost. But we did think they should not have charged it given that we did not receive the slaw we ordered and we thus informed our waitress. She went to check if they would take the charge off the bill and came back saying that they couldn’t do that. Nope, not the right answer! We then asked to see the manager who came by to say that she couldn’t make the adjustment because too much time had passed. Huh?

OK, on to the food, although the taste in our mouths is a little sour at this point. The food is good. “Ma’s Macaroni & Three Cheese” was delectable, the Julius’s Southwestern Caesar Salad very plentiful and loaded with blackened chicken breast and interesting bits of roasted corn, black beans, cheddar and jack cheese and crunchy tortilla strips. The “Chicken Lickin Sandy” was, indeed, finger-licking tasty with grilled chicken, bacon, avocado, caramelized onions, melted pepper jack and herb mayo on rustic ciabatta bread. And it was particularly good accompanied by those tater tots. We were initially quite suspicious of these taters because the frozen ones are dreadful so we especially asked our waitress if they were fresh. She said they were and she spoke the truth. These were the best tater tots we’ve ever had! We could nitpick a bit. The mac ‘n cheese could have used a slightly crunchier crust, the chicken in the salad could have used a bit more spice and there wasn’t quite enough dressing for the huge salad. And, of course, we really would have liked to taste that coleslaw.

But overall the food really was good, as were the drinks and that had us planning to come back. The manager’s attitude changed our minds. Bye, bye, Big Daddy.

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