India Habitat Centre is the cultural hub of Delhi. Plays, talks, art shows, film viewings, book festivals, events of all nature occur here on a daily basis. It’s no surprise then that The All American Diner gets to share the spotlight by being one of the three (the others being a food court and a tiny bakery) eating options available in the vicinity that are open for all the public (there are more restaurants, but they only serve to members and their guests).
The All American Diner has always been a special place; it’s a great place to meet up for a pre-film screening milkshake or a post play coffee. It’s also the place that I and my Mom visit every time we are at IHC for a book talk or festival.
Designed as authentically as possible, The All American Diner is unusually bright with its neon signs, red bar stools, a black and white check floor and colourful tin signboards decorating the walls. It certainly lacks the subtlety and dullness of a “real” diner but then considering this is more of a “diner” themed restaurant, over the top displays are wholeheartedly welcomed.
There’s a lot to choose from on their menu; omelettes, burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, seafood, salads, waffles, shakes, and of course cakes, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed until you’ve been here a few times and have your own favourites. But if you’re someone like me, then you probably like to try something new every time, and because the menu is so extensive, there’s always something different that catches your eye.
The food preparations aren’t spectacular with more laid back and simple plating, more reminiscent of a real diner, which even comes across as drab at times, but the taste certainly makes up for this lacklustre first impression. The service is friendly and relatively quick, depending on the rush, and I’ve always found The All American Diner to be busy and alive, so the wait is an excellent opportunity to people watch and catch in on conversational snippets from the cultural elite of the city. Oh! Come on now, don’t judge me, we all love a little bit of voyeuristic overhearing.
If it wasn’t for that dreaded thing called cholesterol, I’d eat eggs daily, so it should come as no surprise that The Ultimate with its mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, sausage, chicken, cheese, and of course added bacon is a favouite of mine. It’s not called the “Ultimate” without reason mind you, for this three egg omelette along with hash-browns, two slices of bread (brown or white) is quite the tummy filler.
Then there is the Bogart which is a notch below the Ultimate with its ingredients. The Creamy Mushroom Stuffed Omelette is everything that the name suggests. Who can forget the Classic Hot Dog, which is called a classic for a reason and The All American Diner certainly does it justice.
And to end it all, for desserts, if the Brownie Blast, or the Vanilla Malt, or the Wicked Brownie Shake or the rather heavy Banana Berry Milkshake, which you has for your drink isn’t enough, try the pancakes or waffles which are going to leave you with a wonderful overall impression making you to want to visit soon again.
For the past couple of months, The All American Diner has had a pop-up kitchen at their sister concern (Drift at Epicenter) in Gurgaon. While initially I was excited about it, but the Sunrise Skillet that I ordered was rather disappointing. The scrambled eggs were nice and soft while the bacon was a few seconds short of being burnt with a very dark unusual colour. The sausages were just about acceptable, but what truly killed the dish were the two cold (not even reheated properly) pancakes and the missing cheddar cheese on top. So, the pop-up is something that I shall avoid in the future. It also goes on to show that a recipe can be shared but the execution has to be done by the right person, or the best of foods can fail to impress. However, I do recommend visiting the Drift and ordering from their menu.
The All American Diner is one of those places that gets written about in guide books and they rightly deserve all the fame. They present a lovely diner experience with good food that is not only homely to look at, but makes you want to just cuddle up and take a nice nap after eating it.