Even if we haven’t actually been in one, we’re all familiar with the American-style diner. It appears in many a movie or TV show, where the characters go for an inexpensive, but good meal. A place where the pert, friendly servers, usually dressed in pink, call your order to the cook in an incomprehensible argot.
According to Bill Bryson, writing in Notes from a Big Country, the traditional diner … usually a prefabricated unit just one step up from a mobile home … had its heyday in the Prohibition Era between the two World Wars. People couldn’t go to bars any more (not legally, anyway) so they needed a place to meet, and have something to eat, or maybe just a cup of coffee.
He did note, though, that, although he’s a great fan of the ‘classic’ diner, any place that serves food can call itself a ‘diner’ … although, in the States, these are being slowly put out of business by the fast food chains.
But, not in Britain!
I was surprised to find one on the Brighton sea-front, of all places!
Well, checking out an American diner without crossing the Atlantic? It had to be done. Although I did think that the waxwork American policeman and the Harley Davidson we were confronted with at the entrance made me think that maybe they were trying a little too hard to ‘be American’.
But, once inside, the atmosphere seemed really authentic … booths with red imitation leather seats, photos of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. And, a loudspeaker playing 50s rock; that’s a genre I really love.
The final bill didn’t exactly break the bank, either. A king size hot dog, with chips and salad for Lorraine, a bowl of chili for me … not as hot as I like it, but good nevertheless. Ellie ordered the rather un-American fish n’ chips, but made up for it with a gargantuan banana milk shake … of which ‘JBs Diner’ are rightly proud.
Check them out at http://jbsdiner.co.uk/