By Rachel Perlman
Walk into Bowery Diner, and you won’t be sure if you are in a 1950s era American diner or a hip, downtown restaurant. The nonfunctional jukebox by the door clashes with the sea-faring pictures on the walls, but the diner at 241 Bowery, has the rest of this chasm handled. A pink neon clock and modern globe lighting fixtures sit neatly with a large flat screen television above the full bar. The classic embossed metal walls reverberate the slow jazz playing through the speakers while contemporarily dressed waiters take your order.
Classic meets modern doesn’t stop at the décor. Belgian chef Mathieu Palombino has taken the diner menu staples of eggs, burgers, and fries, and added authentic dishes such as steak tartare and niçoise salad. Open 24 hours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, they even have a special after hours menu. You can stop by in the middle of the night and enjoy chicken and waffles, a peanut butter and bourbon milkshake, or any of the other palatable offerings.
On a Wednesday morning around 9 a.m., the crowd mostly consisted of families that appear to be tourists reading over the breakfast menu. Dishes range from a slightly steep $8 for an egg sandwich to $16 for a special. There are not many options, but they all sound just as appealing as the next. The food came 20 minutes after we ordered and was placed neatly on the white linoleum tables, save for a cup of milk which nearly landed all over one of the people in my party. The Belgian waffles, which come covered in powered sugar and are served with frozen custard and chocolate sauce, are not too overwhelmingly sweet as other diner waffles can be, but they were slightly too crunchy. Blueberry pancakes and the breakfast sandwich served on a toasted bagel were enjoyed so thoroughly there was rarely a moment between bites.
The hip vibe and tasty food are pluses, but if you are anticipating classic greasy diner fare, look elsewhere.