(Alicia Keys) – Empire Diner, Rivenhall, Essex
It was a damp, grey, Saturday morning and I was whizzing along the A12 with a hankering for breakfast, so I pulled into the Empire Diner. It’s another of those places I’ve driven past a hundred times, I seem to be sweeping a few of these up recently.
The Empire Diner sits just off the A12, eastbound, just past (and opposite) the Essex Fire Service HQ. It’s well signed, with attractive branding based on the Empire State Building, nothing wrong with that.
Inside, as you might expect, it’s US Diner chic, with chequered (or should that be checkered?) floor and red seats with contrast piping. The tables have machine spun metal tops. I’ve never visited an authentic diner outside Manhattan, but this is what every Brit imagines a US diner to look like. It works for me.
I arrived at about nine thirty and the place was pretty busy. I – somewhat perversely – ordered the ‘Old English Breakfast’ which comprises “2 rashers of local back bacon, 2 fried eggs (or poached), old English sausage, sautéed mushrooms, crispy potatoes, baked beans and toast“. This comes with tea or coffee, so I ordered a black coffee.
The coffee arrived almost immediately, and while it could have been stronger, was fine and tasty.
The breakfast arrived a few minutes later, no problems with service there. I confess the crispy sauté potatoes were unexpected, but they were fine and well cooked. The bacon and sausage were delicious and the eggs poached to perfection.
All in all an expected delight, and at £6.95 including coffee I couldn’t complain at the price.
I’m hoping to do an American ‘road trip’ sometime soon, and if I find diners of this standard I’ll be more than happy.