Saturday, January 23, 2010
Pop's Diner 7430 Miller Lane (north Dayton)
This week I'm reviewing a place I first noticed about a month ago, towards the north end of Miller's Lane, on the east side. The place is called Pop's Diner, and it is family owned. (currently by the brother of the original fellow) I have to admit that I passed it up the last time, mostly because my son didn't want to try it, but also because I figured it would be overpriced, and that it wouldn't have much selection. I am happy to report that I was wrong on both counts.
Upon entering, the kitchen was on the right, and seating and salad bar on the left. There was a large board up near the entrance on the left proclaiming all of the specials, of which there were about 6 or 7 on the night we visited. Wait staff was pleasant, and I was asked if I knew what I wanted up front, which is great if you have a favorite, or if you've been there before. I was impressed with two beautiful painted seascape murals on the walls, and spent some time after being seated just admiring the two of them. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten a shot of at least one of them to share, but you'll have to go in to see for yourself!
I was tempted by one of the night's specials, a half barbecue chicken. However, I'd already had chicken recently, and decided to look for something more interesting. They have the menu organized into different "genres", if you will. They have all day breakfast, a kids' menu, Italian, mini meals, seafood, grilled items, barbecue specials, melts, hoagies and more. All in all, I counted around 120 choices - not including appetizers, desserts or salad bar. Although I'm sure I'll go back to try more of the other selections, this time around I ended up going with something from what they called "Pop's Baskets" - Clams in a Basket, for $8.25. This has clam strips, french fries and onion rings with cocktail sauce on the side. It also comes with soup or the salad bar, and I decided to try the salad bar. My son ordered a patty melt, which is a half pound hamburger with onion and swiss cheese on rye. For $6.99, it came with fries, soup, coleslaw and a pickle.
I went to check out the salad bar while they prepared our main meals. The salad bar certainly wasn't large, - it was double sided, and measured about 12' in total length. This was a true salad bar - no meat dishes, but then you really wouldn't expect that when it is included with meals as low as $6.99. It worked great to give me something to snack on while waiting. I'd like to point out one thing about the salad bar - quality. They might not have a 50 foot long feed trough, but what they had was good. I could tell that the items were very fresh. I was especially delighted to see that the tomatoes that were used were actually ripe! (a rarity in Ohio in the middle of winter) The greens offered were a mix, and thankfully not all iceberg. Another pleasant surprise was the potato salad, a white, creamy mix that at times reminded me of mashed potatoes, but was served cool with herb flavorings. When questioned about this, the night manager told me that it actually reminded him of something they fed the men back when he was in the service. (if that's the case, military food may have really improved since the old days)
After I had finished a plate of salad, my son said he really enjoyed the chicken and rice soup they had brought him. Just a couple of minutes later, they brought the main dishes for our supper. I was rather astounded at how large the burger was on my son's plate, even though it was presented in two pieces. Heavily topped with melted swiss cheese, it certainly met any definition for a "melt". My son, however, was very disappointed that they ran out of pickles that night, because his meal was supposed to include one, and he really loves them.
For my part, the basket they delivered seemed to weigh about two pounds! It was appropriately "ringed" around the edges with onion rings, with the clam strips on top in the center, and underneath it all were the french fries, which were crinkle cut. The onion rings were the first to go, and were not over breaded. They were not quite what I had grown fond of at the various county fairs, but were still quite good. After that, I started eating the clam strips. While tasty, I was slightly disappointed with the very small size of many of the strips, and actually ended up eating many using a spoon. The french fries were good as well, but there were simply so many that after eating the salad and other items, I couldn't even eat half of them.
Overall, this was a great experience, which would have been made even better with fewer but larger clam strips. After trying some of the leftovers, I can also say that if you like rye bread and Reuben type sandwiches, I really think you would enjoy the patty melt. When driving past again in the future, I may grab one of those as takeout.
Update: here are some coupons good through March 1
address: 7430 Miller Lane (east side, about 1/10 mile south of Little York Road)
Dayton, Ohio 45414
website: popsdiner.net (includes 10% off first visit coupon)
telephone: (937) 264-3201
open 7 days a week, 6 am to 9:30 pm