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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nickel Diner: Great Vibe & OK Food

I finally tried the much-talked about maple glazed bacon donut at Nickel Diner. It was nice that we got it on the house after we made our lunch order, but alas, I was disappointed. We got donut balls, probably because they were free samples, but they were dry, like they had been out for a while. The crispy bacon bits sprinkled on top were crunchy and made me feel like I was having breakfast, but that's true of bacon on anything. I'm told one should have it first thing in the morning, fresh out of the, er, fryer, for the real deal.

What I loved was the vibe and decor -- felt like I was in New York. I had the spicy pulled pork sandwich that came with an unremarkable salad. The texture of the pulled pork was nice and soft and the flavor was spicy enough but what got me was a slightly porky smell that threw me off. It was like they had either used mediocre quality pork meat to begin with or hadn't seasoned it right to mask that smell. The bun was good, just dense enough. The accompanying salad was nothing to write home about. I was surprised they used iceberg lettuce -- who uses those flavorless greens anymore? They also added black olives to the salad, which was odd. I didn't think it went well, as much as I love olives.

I also tried the stuffed avocado with quinoa, black beans, corn, red peppers and cilantro, among other things. This was mild-flavored and healthy, but then again, I don't go to diners to eat healthy food. The "Nickelcoise" salad with seared tuna, green beans, tomatoes, red onions, black olives, artichoke hearts and greens was refreshing but someone mentioned the tuna was a bit overcooked.

I would like to return to try other things, especially their breakfasts. Maybe their decadent-looking desserts. But the donuts? I've had better. Service left some to be desired too. There's something to be said for hiring full-time wait staff instead of relying on friends, family and associates to fill in.

Nickel Diner
524 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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