Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Next in our overview of diners: the State Street Diner, right here in lovely Ithaca. It sits (duh) on State Street, one of the main drags, and it possesses all the prerequisites for diner status:
1. A preponderance of tile; not the kitschy, oh-honey-let's-do-the-kitchen-in-'50s-style tile either. The real McCoy, from back in the day when tile was happening for the first time.
2. Smoky-voiced waitresses who write "Thanks" on your tab in smeary ink pen and deliver your food with speedy matter-of-factness (though they will chat with you once you become a regular, or if they're feeling particularly friendly, or if, like me, you look 12 years old).
3. This based on one experience with their coffee (I haven't been a coffee drinker long): coffee that will give you an ulcer if you don't already have one, and turn your stomach into Mt. St. Helens if you do. Maybe--probably, in fact--this was an isolated incident. I'm sure their coffee is generally very good, although to quote Dar Williams' song Southern California wants to be Western New York: 'They want to own a family business in sheet metal or power tools and they/ want to own a diner where the coffee tastes like diesel fuel..."
4. Straightforward, greasy spoon food. Hash browns, eggs, grilled cheese, burgers, fries. No marinated tofu or fresh-picked baby lettuce here. When I was still really ill, I hardly went to the State Street; when I did I got cottage cheese and diet coke (and amused looks from the waitresses--less amused looks from my friends). I haven't gone back yet.
5. Those yellow and red squirt bottles for ketchup and mustard that you probably remember from the elementary school cafeteria (remember fighting the tremendous urge to just squeeze ketchup all over the person next to you in line, turning their white shirt into a work of art like some crazed eight-year-old Jackson Pollock?). It makes one doubt that they buy Heinz; then again, it's nice to see other ketchup companies get a chance. I bet you money they just keep a 10 gallon drum of cheapo ketchup in the kitchen and refill the bottles with it every so often. At least that's how I like to imagine it.

This is where I went out for a late-night nosh with my friends the night of...the incident my freshman year of school. Maybe that, too, is a reason I've avoided it in the past. And maybe scrambled eggs and waffles with syrup and golden, oniony hashbrowns are good not only for fixing hangovers but for healing in general. I should go back.

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