Sunday, June 13, 2010

Skylark Diner Steps Their Game Up

I've always liked the idea of the Skylark Diner. Classic diner food in a slightly upscale setting with some gourmet options and accents. However, to me, the food never lived up to the promise. I tried a variety of breakfast and dinner options and usually settled on the deli omelette with corned beef, pastrami and provolone cheese. It's really good, but not necessarily the reason to make it a favorite. Well with 90 minutes to kill before a Get Him to the Greek, I decided to hit it up. It turned out to be a good choice.

A few months ago, James Beard winning chef Craig Shelton took over in the kitchen. I hadn't been back since the change and so I eagerly scanned the revamped menu, trying to decide what to get. After much contemplation, I went with the beer braised onion and bacon burger with white cheddar cheese.

The burger itself was good to begin with. Good meat well cooked (I ordered mine medium well) and juicy. But the beer braised onions with bacon took the flavor to another pleasant level. The bacon was cooked into the onions, so there was this layer of deliciousness on top of the juicy burger. I was expecting strips of bacon, so it was a bit of a surprise, but it was still good. Every bite made me want to take another. And another. And when I went to the fries for a crunchy interlude, I got a nice vinegar bite along with the salty, crunchy potatoes. A pleasant surprise even though they are titled malt vinegar fries. This was what they had in mind when they created Skylark. Good food elevated by creativity and quality execution.

Also encouraging was the fact that Craig Shelton himself was walking around the dining room, greeting guests and checking to see whether people were enjoying their food. The service was also noticeably improved. I've endured some spotty service in the past there. But all that is in the past, and I'm looking forward to returning and trying more of the newly expanded menu.

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