To celebrate our fifth year as a website we decided it was high time we started reviewing diners. Figuring out how to approach a New Jersey institution like the diner was tough. How can we differentiate between restaurants that have 95% of the menus being the same as every other one? Finally, we decided that we’d pick out diner staples and base our review on those items—with one wild card item thrown in at the end.
The latest diner we’ve tried for both breakfast and lunch is the Pilgrim Diner in Cedar Grove. Let’s start with some honesty. The Pilgrim looks like it was refurbished in the 1960s and then never touched. If you’ve ever complained about your favorite diner being updated to look modern and you can hardly recognize it anymore, then this is your new place. They have definitely not touched this in a very long time. Seats are ripped. Plates are chipped. Waitresses are surly. What’s even more confusing is that it’s an absolutely huge diner that often has a full parking lot of customers. How they aren’t making enough money to at least keep it nice inside is a mystery. Luckily, we loved breakfast and liked lunch so it’s not a place to avoid all together. Just go in with your eyes open to its faults and you’ll be fine. Revel in the run down glory, even!
Here’s what we thought about the diner staples.
Taylor Ham, Egg and Cheese Sandwich
Breakfast at the Pilgrim was really good. Coffee tasted good and the Taylor Ham sandwich was just right. Lots of meat, perfectly cooked eggs and a nice hearty roll. Can’t go wrong with a great breakfast sandwich!
Huge diner pancakes that are still fluffy enough to not weigh you down for the whole morning. These were classic hotcakes with all the bells and whistles.
The eggs weren’t entirely scrambled all the way but at least we could tell they were real eggs. The veggies and ham were well diced and not too big for each bite. The home fries were nice and creamy on the inside with plenty of crispy bits outside.
Lunch and dinner offerings slipped a little from the great breakfast. The burger was obviously pre-made and frozen. It had a fine taste and was even nice and pink inside as ordered. But, it definitely wasn’t anything special.
Same for the chicken fingers. Obviously frozen and standard, they weren’t bad but there wasn’t too much that was memorable, either. Some fingers were pretty thin and others were a more normal thickness.
Wild Card Items – Fried Fish Sandwich and Matzo Ball Soup
The fried fish that was on this sandwich was pretty good. Big enough to fill the bread but not so big that it fell out. But, the sandwich came with no toppings. Just bread and fish. Some packets of tartar sauce came on the side but we missed having lettuce and tomato. It was a pretty plain and sad meal.
The matzoh ball soup was the highlight of lunch. It way overflowed the bowl but it was chock full of carrots, celery and onions that tasted like they were freshly chopped and cooked in house. No sad frozen soup veggies here. The bowl of soup came with three matzoh balls, too. That’s more than I normally get when I order this. The broth was nice and flavorful. The only thing I would have changed was the intense yellow color of the broth. It was practically neon.
All in all, our meals weren’t terrible and neither was the service. Have we had better service elsewhere? Definitely. But, it’s convenient to Willowbrook Mall and the Bloomfield Avenue shopping corridor in Essex County so if you’re in the mood to visit yesteryear’s diner or just want a cheap meal, you should find what you want at the Pilgrim Diner.
Check out all the pictures from our visits to the Pilgrim Diner in Cedar Grove:
82 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove
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