Saturday, July 29, 2006

76 Diner in Latham: Always Open, Always Something Good

The 76 Diner in Latham is exactly what every diner should be: open all the time, warm and welcoming, and chock-full of so many different options (breakfast all day, dessert all day, Greek salad, shrimp scampi, steak....) that it boggles the mind where they store all that food. How do they keep all those options in readyness, at a moment's notice, 24 hours a day? Plus the beverages.

The 76 Diner is located on 722 Loudon Road, Latham, tel. 785-3793.

They have a lovely dessert case that greets you and gets the salivary glands going just as you walk in. In it are all kinds of over-the-top things like Napoleons bursting with cream you know isn't good for you, strawberry cheesecake, and cherry and blueberry pies.

We were there the other night after having made an emergency run to the Lowe's in Latham Circle, and I got the broiled Haddock that came with: salad, side vegetable (I chose the spinach with mushroom, very good, almost creamy), potato (I chose the home fries, very good again). The piece de resistance was the garnish: a canned pineapple round with a maraschino cherry in the center on top of a piece of lettuce.

Where else can you go and order broiled Haddock and get a garnish like that, I ask you?! You know that love and care goes into that. And it is the essence of dinertude. My husband got the omelet with tomato and cheese (and home fries) and it was quite good.

Now let's be frank here: we're not talking organic eggs or quaint Berkshire-style diner. We're talking working man's, 24-hour, nightshifters, Greek-food inflected diner. But for what it is, it's at the top of its form.

The waitress, who spoke with a Russian accent, and I had a frank discussion about the fish. Was it fresh? I wondered. Well, she said, don't believe ANYONE if they tell you that fish is fresh at any restaurant, unless it is very very expensive. Almost all fish will be frozen in some way. But, she assured me, this Haddock would be good. I appreciated her honesty.

And the fish was good. It wasn't the best (or the freshest-- despite what she said, there are levels of freshness) I've ever had, but it was quite good. Better than I expected.

So go. Don't hesitate. And at $23 for two full meals, you can't beat it.

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