Let’s get this out of the way right up front – I have a soft spot in my heart for the Union Gospel Mission. Over many years I’ve supported their programs through various means. And now they’ve added a method for me to support them that get’s right to the core of my soul – Daily Diner in Frogtown. Yes, food. My favorite vice.
The Daily Diner – Frogtown is going to be used as a training ground for the men of the Union Gospel Mission who are involved in the culinary arts. It gives them a job, training, and a shot at some additional light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been involved in some of their other programs in the past and I know they have a servant’s heart for the men (and women) they serve through the mission. I’ve been watching the construction take place through closed blinds for months at the corner of Dale & University. I was dying of curiosity to see how this place fit into the mix and today was the day to explore.
First impressions say a lot about any establishment. The Daily Diner greeted me with two smiling teenagers at the host station. I felt like I’d just arrived at a family reunion and they were glad to see their goofy old uncle. I was given the choice of a booth or the counter. No choice at all, really, because from the counter you can watch the cooks and get a much better idea of who the place is serving – the staff or the customers. I am pleased to report that the customers are the winners. The cooks were having a good time but in a healthy way. The kind of kitchen team that Gordon Ramsey would applaud, and Undercover Boss would find on the editing room floor because there was no drama or conflict.
The decor is a modern look with light woodwork, and an open floor plan that is quite airy. Really a nice place, lots of natural light and a comfortable feel. Modern but lacking the pretension that seems to doom a lot of eateries to “hip” death.
I’d barely adjusted to the stool before I was offered coffee. And it’s really good coffee. I hate bad coffee. I made a point to try the cup before doping it up with sugar and cream. Nice. Aromatic, just the right temperature. On to the menu.
I was there on a Sunday morning after church and was in the mood for breakfast. I read the menu choices and watched some beautiful food cross the pass in front of me. All of it looked really good, especially the chicken and waffles (next time.) As is my way I asked the waiter what he liked. Corned beef hash. And for the eggs? I added two the two that come with it and asked for the whole batch to be poached. Whole wheat toast to round it all out.
Like many barbarians, I like to mash my food together to expedite the inhalation process. For a change I tried each item prior to the “food processor” mode invoking – and it was worth it in spades. The corned beef hash was in the top 3 I’ve ever had. No hint of a can here, unlike many places that “open a tin” and fry their hash. This was also the beneficiary of some lovely red peppers and well cooked potatoes. Once the eggs got thrown in and a bit of salt and pepper added it was “pret’ near perfect.” I live in the land of “Gee, that’s awful spicy. Did you use pepper?” I understand that most dishes require a bit of seasoning.
The toast deserves a note as well. Indifferent bread and poor toasting seem to be a requirement in many restaurants. Not at the Daily Diner. The bread was a beautiful whole wheat and it was toasted perfectly. Just enough butter to make it moist but not enough to tempt you to wring out the excess.
As if the extra two eggs were not enough (and they never are) the waiter suggested a slice of pie when I was done. Ala mode. What the heck, I’m already big enough to threaten Tokyo so we might as well go for it one more time. The pie was a Lake Superior Crunch. Since I’m demented, I wondered if it contained smelt. Nope. Blueberries, raspberries, rhubarb, apples, and strawberries. I asked if they made it in house – no. But the source made it tolerable: Betty’s Pies. Betty’s is an institution in Two Harbors, Minnesota. When you (*meaning me*) think of great pie, Betty’s pops into your head.
Tremendous crust, hint of many flavors, strong rhubarb. And that’s how I like my pie. Lots of rhubarb. But not the crushing bitter taste that some pies have – this was superb.
The tab. I sometimes forget that I live in the year 2013, not 1983. The tab was perfectly acceptable for the pile of food I wolfed down today. $25.00 for the corned beef hash, two extra eggs, coffee, and pie ala mode. Not cheap but certainly money well spent. I have spent more on breakfast but rarely have I enjoyed it as much.
The conclusion is this: go and see for yourself. There’s ample parking behind the building and the food and service are exceptional. Price is upper part of the mid-range band but if you’re doing a business breakfast and want to impress this is the place.
I’ll see you there soon. I’ll be going back for sure.
**this will be included in all posts until further notice. Please subscribe now to Commotion in the Pews and then “like” the Facebook author page. I will be giving away a $100 prize from Walker Farms Honey in May if, and only if, I get 100 new subscribers and 100 new likes to the author page. It stands at 67 today, needs to hit 166 before the prize can be awarded. This helps me when I approach agents and publishers trying to get my books published. Thank you!**