Again, I'm in no way adverse to the "diner" experience. After all, I'd love to know the exact number of those aforementioned Bergen County diners I frequented at 2:00 A.M. as a youth and ordered a "Rebel Yell" (cheeseburger topped with a fried egg) or a "Double/Double" (double egg/double sausage sandwich) following a night of carousing with my buddies and imbibing in a libation or two. Everything has its time and its place, and the affinity I may have felt towards the "diner" in my youth, has not translated well into my adulthood. It may have something to do with the fact that these days I just have far less zeal for a wee-hour jaunt in search of the perfect all-night breakfast, or perhaps, my tastes have matured as a result of how I earn a living as a food writer. No, I'm far from persnickety, but just maybe, I'm a bit more discerning these days.
So if that is the attitude I've maintained thus far, why change now? Why the Majestic Diner?
Namely, the Majestic is the first diner I've visited in ages that strives to break the mold and not be all things to all people, and that's an attitude I find refreshing.
The Majestic Diner located at 1045 Route 17 South in Ramsey, NJ, occupies the former site of the Tiffany Diner which had been a local staple since 1972.
The Majestic's website boasts a tagline stating, "A NEW American Diner", and that's exactly the environment it projected each time I've visited. Here, I did not feel bombarded by glitz, gum-chewing waitresses slinging pots of coffee or phonebook-sized menus containing everything from applesauce to foie gras. In fact, while the staff is consistently friendly, attentive and helpful, the menu consists of a single 11 x 17 piece of stock folded in half. Black and red text on a white background. Manageable and concise. Just how I like it.
With a few out-of-the-box surprises such as Crab Cake Benedict ($12.95) which consists of two fairly large lump crab cakes topped with chipotle hollandaise sauce and two perfectly poached eggs which is absolutely delightful, the main thing I like about this menu is the perfect execution and flavor profile of every offering. The omelets are over-sized and flavorful, the standouts being the Lox, Marscarpone and Scallion Omelet ($8.95) and the Bacon, Goat Cheese and Tomato Omelet ($8.50). Each is served with your choice of a heaping portion of tasty rustic-cut home fries or hominy grits, which are consistently done to creamy, textural perfection.
The griddle offerings such as Buttermilk Pancakes ($5.95), Seven-Grain Pancakes ($7.95), Brioche French Toast ($7.95) and Banana Nut French Toast ($7.95) are no less enticing, and a bargain in comparison to many of the breakfast chains.
The Majestic's on-site bakery puts out some interesting treats as well. House-made Twinkies ($2.50) and Pop Tarts ($2.50) are popular items and are made each day due to their lack of preservatives. Here, freshness is not an issue. One item that always piqued our interest were the Bacon Doughnuts. Unfortunately, this was the one item that seemed to fall short of the mark as they were far too sweet for our tastes.
Still, all in all, the Majestic has become one of my "go-to" feel-good establishments when it comes to the "diner" fare experience. Not because they offer anything that is a culinary stroke of genius, but rather, they offer a solid, concise menu that they seem to have mastered. And that is all I can ask for when it comes to the all-American diner.