Lucky number seven | The Diner, Old Spitalfields Market, London E1 6EW
For us, going to The Diner is like visiting a good friend. This seventh site in Spitalfields Market is subtlety different. It’s almost as if this good friend has had a year out, gone travelling, found itself and come back with a long list of craft beers and a clever cocktail menu.
The decor is in their typical Diner style that we know and love, in keeping with their other branches but slicker and more shiny. They haven’t shied away from their own unique look in favour of the industrial feel, that to be honest is getting a little predictable. There are still enough recognisable touches to make you feel at home, the neon, the booth seating, the fantastic choice of burgers and blue plate dishes and of course the warm and inviting staff. Saff was delighted to find they’ve ditched the almost illegible scripty font from the menu.
What has changed is the addition of the hard tea cocktails and the extensive range of craft beers. The Diner made hard shakes popular and they can now even be found in the likes of Ed’s Diner and TGI’s. So they have raised the bar again and introduced London to hard teas.
So what are hard teas? Well think iced tea but a hell of a lot more exciting. The list only has four different varieties at £8, and we tried them all except for the Peach Cobbler (we have to save something for our next visit). The G & Tea – gin, a posh diner blend tea bag (left to infuse in the glass) with elderflower and apple. A great depth to it, not too sweet and very refreshing and the most tea-like one we drank. This one appears to be the staff’s choice as it was recommended to us numerous times.
Next we tried the Red Slushy – vodka, Chambord, berry tea and cherry purée – another refreshing drink but it was thin, not as slush puppy-esque as we imagined, it tasted deceptively alcohol-free, dangerous! Our favourite by far was the Cherry Pie – Amaretto, berry tea and Morello Purée. So simple yet so amazing, very much like an alcoholic Cherry Tango. We all fell in love with it, I could have have drunk a bucket full, Saff even wanted to bathe in it. Oh, I almost forgot, the Red, White & Blue Margarita £8 was excellent too, even if it did resemble a WKD!
The craft beer list is really impressive, at the moment there are 53 beers split over six sections, but they are aiming to hit 100. They range from the big hitting 12% ABV AleSmith Speedway Stout and 10% ABV Brooklyn Black to the more gentle 3.8% ABV Partizan Liberty. Although, if you’re like me, picking a beer with a peculiar name is always a good option.
Now on to the food… We’ve eaten at almost all their sites (we’ll get to them all one day) as a couple, with family and with friends. On this occasion we were joined by our good friends JB and Jess. JB loves all things American, the people, the sports and especially the food. They have traveled the East coast, West coast and even the deep South in search of the best burgers and BBQ food, so we knew they would be good ‘testers’. BBQ fan JB is in the process of creating the perfect BBQ pineapple sauce, so any tips on this are much appreciated.
Saff and I have reviewed The Diner‘s burgers and dogs many, many times. My favourite burger, by far, was the Stiff Arm burger created for the American Super Bowl. That’s why I’m so pleased that the Juicy Lucy £9 has made it on to the menu proper. It’s a St Louis pulled pork patty filled with Diner cheese sauce, topped with a spicy coleslaw and BBQ sauce in a glazed bun. Add to this a couple of Diner Baskets (we had the Diner Shrimp £5 and Crispy lamb slammers £6.50), and side of Saff’s beloved Wet fries £2.90 and you’re in comfort food heaven.
If that’s not enough the desserts are a bit special too. The warm Waffles with roast bananas and ice cream £6 transported us back to LA. Whilst the Warm chocolate and peanut cookie – peanut butter ice cream and butterscotch sauce £6 is enough to satisfy even the sweetest tooth. Add an RR hard shake £8 – vanilla bean ice cream, Davna Cherry vodka and a shot of espresso (as seen on C4’s Sunday Brunch) and you can waddle off home content.
My only criticism that I can fire at The Diner Group is why they haven’t made a leap of faith and opened up a branch south of the river. There’s a perfect site on Southark Street at the Bankside Mix, just behind the Tate Modern. The fact that it’s just a few meters from where We Love Food work is, of course, purely coincidental.
4 Horner Square
Old Spitalfields Market, London E1 6EW
Mon to Fri: 0800-2300
Sat: 0900 – 2300
Telephone: 020 73770375
Nearest tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East or Shoreditch High Street