Friday, 11 July 2014

Searching for my Frosty Palace: The South Side Diner

When I lived in America, diners were my absolute favourite places to eat. I loved turkey burgers, fries, onion rings, grilled cheese sandwiches, disco fries and black and white milkshakes (my hips didn’t though). I love the booth seating, the jukeboxes and the rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. The diner down the road from my apartment in New York, The Midnight Express Diner, was cosy and friendly and they were open all night for late night snacks. It was cheap and cheerful and they even delivered (and I lived in the same street…. Hmmm).

It’s been something that I've really missed. Brisbane’s been a bit lacking in the vintage destinations for a long time. We’ve got places to shop in spades; That Shop, Your One Stop Pinup Shop, Tattooed Zombie, Trash Monkey and more, but when it comes to dressing in your retro best and heading out for a night on the town, we don't have many choices.
Can you spot me in the back there?

When the South Side Diner opened late last year, it was the answer to many of these prayers.
Decked out in a modern twist on the retro style, with wooden bar seats, long booths (minus the sticky red vinyl), burgers served in baskets and milkshakes with striped paper straws, it’s a cute but upmarket take on the traditional diner style, which I really like. The food runs a little on the pricey side, and there’s not much choice for vegetarians (though, this has been acknowledged and is getting better), but it fits well with the modern take on the style it’s got going. I’d call the food more soul-food than traditional diner fare.

I've been to the diner quite a few times now and while I've mostly enjoyed what I've had to eat, I keep finding that I want to love it more than I actually do. We went for New Years’ Eve and at the last minute the menu went from a set one to a limited list which was really disappointing when we’d made our choices. We also found the atmosphere a bit lacking for what was advertised and were disappointed that we’d gone all out on the dress-ups and it wasn't acknowledged (even though there was a best dressed competition running).

That being said, I went along with a group for the 4th of July last week, where there wasn't promise of lots of entertainment — just a few specials and some good music on their sound system. It was a night of lower expectations than New Years’ and I enjoyed the atmosphere and food a lot more, probably because of those lower expectations.


Stand outs on the menu are their burgers, all of their amazing mac and cheese dishes (which are two for one on Monday nights), and their appetisers and sides like mozzarella sticks, sweet potato fries, corn on the cob and chicken wings. I’ll never not be upset that the amazing onion rings left the menu a couple of weeks after they opened, but as long as the sweet potato fries stick around, I think I’ll survive.

I’m not a huge fan of their desserts – especially the cherry pie which instead of being a steaming hot slice of fruity goodness is a cold pie with a cheesecake top, but my friends say the chocolate peanut butter pie is to die for and I know the kids love the ice-cream.

It’s a good destination place for the occasional dinner, but it’s probably not going to become my Frosty Palace hang out. However, I’ll still get dressed up and go here (because let’s face it, I always get dressed up), and I’ll still visit on American holidays.

What about you guys? Are there any great American-style diners in your cities? Or do you know of another place I should visit in Brisbane?

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