Monday, January 17, 2011
Red Robin Diner
Name: Red Robin Diner
Location: 268 Main St., Johnson City, NY 13790
Phone: (607) 729-2346
Cuisine: American Diner
Price: Less than $10 per person
Today, we decided to resume our tour of the area's diners. We've covered a lot of ground and have found some good ones, but still have a few to go. This morning's stop was the Red Robin Diner in Johnson City. We've lived in Johnson City for a long time and passed by the Red Robin countless times over the years, but never bothered to stop. Until the last couple of years, the place looked rather rundown and somewhat sketchy, from the exterior at least. Since acquiring new ownership a couple years ago, I heard that the Red Robin had made somewhat of a rebound to its glory days of years past. I was pretty stoked about giving it a shot.
Ambiance at the Red Robin, located on Main St. in the heart of Johnson City, is old-fashioned even by diner standards. The signage around the restaurant looks like it hasn't changed much, if at all, in the last fifty years; some empty glass Coke bottles in a case near the entrance serve as a reminder of yesteryear. One unique thing about the layout of the Red Robin is that the coffee counter faces the street. A little research shows that the Red Robin is indeed a rarity which has existed in the area since 1950, making it one of the Triple Cities' longest-running establishments.
As you enter, you'll see the coffee counter and some booths off to the right, and a larger dining area (which I assume may have been expanded later) straight ahead toward the back. We chose a booth toward the front and were quickly presented with coffee while we perused the paper menus already on the table. Since we were there at 9:00 AM, breakfast was the only option available to us at that time. The menu featured all the usual diner stuff, eggs, home fries, bacon, sausage, French toast, pancakes, corned beef hash, omelets, and many combinations thereof. I did not find the menu to be as expansive as some others in the area, which is fine. It's all about quality over quantity in my book.
Megan and I both ordered the same thing, the Breakfast Special which featured two eggs any style with bacon, home fries, toast, and coffee for $4.00 including tax. A steal of a deal if I may say so. I went over-easy on my eggs with white toast, while Megan went scrambled with wheat toast. In about ten minutes, our meals were ready.
Overall, this was average diner fare. Bacon was crispy (just how we like it--though Megan much prefers the bacon at Danny's Diner), eggs were done properly to order, home fries were slightly crispy and not too mushy. Megan's toast was a little burnt. If you like a cheap diner breakfast, the Red Robin will certainly hit the spot. It won't amaze you, but then again, it's not meant to. Service was friendly and quick. Make sure to bring cash, as the Red Robin does not take credit/debit at this time.
One of the things I like about diners is that the best ones offer a glimpse into the history of the town to which they belong and an overall feeling of nostalgia. As I sat in the Red Robin, looking out onto Johnson City's Main St., I wondered what the town must have looked like 40 or 50 years ago during the Red Robin's heyday. These days, it's mostly rundown and/or abandoned buildings surrounding the place. I am hopeful that the Red Robin will soldier on, as a comfortable, inexpensive diner and as an artifact of the village's past, until better times someday return to the region.