Food Observations

A blog for eaters

Graham’s Retro Diner

Having been open for a while, I was pleased to check out Ramona’s newest restaurant, Graham’s Retro Diner! Walking inside I was struck at how absolutely adorable this place is. If you’ve seen photos, they don’t do it justice. Such a clean, beautifully appointed restaurant. I was mesmerized just staring at their large mural. Service was good and attentive. I liked the 50’s music in the background, although their playlist was dreary at times. Could have used more Little Richard. Enough of all that, on to the food. In a nutshell, the food here is solid and I’ll break it down in the subsequent paragraphs.
I ordered a #2 Meal: Quarter pound all beef cheeseburger with lettuce, mater & sauce, comes with fries, $12. The cheeseburger as a whole was good. Not remarkable, but good. The beef patty was modestly seasoned, hot and slightly juicy. Cooked all the way to well done. Had a nice maillard effect which I appreciate. The patty was reasonably proportioned to the circumference of the bun. It did seem like it was larger than a quarter pound as advertised. Maybe closer to a third pound. No complaints there! Cheese choices include cheddar, American, Swiss or pepper jack. I chose Swiss and there was a good amount, nicely melted. I could really taste it in each bite. The toasted bun was an institutional seeded variety but held up well. Unfortunately their standard burger-set consists of only lettuce and tomato. Pickles and onion were not invited to the party. I did not care for their leafy green choice, it tasted like tissue paper. I would have preferred something like shredded iceberg. Would have lent a nice contrasting texture to an otherwise soft mouthfeel. Pickles and/or raw onion would have done the same thing. And the “sauce”. If there was sauce on my burger, it was indiscernible. It was either forgotten, or bland and flavorless.
I requested onion rings in lieu of fries and was not charged extra. This was a nice surprise. Unlike many other places I eat at when subbing rings for fries. It is obvious the rings here are NOT off the Sysco truck! These are house made, beer battered and delicious. I only wish my serving was larger. What really delighted me was that I could get good, clean bites throughout. No unfortunate onion drag that plagues many institutional varieties, leaving you with a hollow shell. The thickness of the onion was perfect. Not overly fatty. My wife had the fries with her burger and there was a fair amount. They were also beer battered, hot, crispy and unique. We shared our rings & fries with each other and were both impressed.  On their sides menu is a “Salad Bowl” (one time fill) for $6. Probably not something I would be inclined to order.
Now, I am going to refrain from saying this place is not “affordable” because that is such a subjective term. I will say though, in my dining-out experience, it is not a great value. That being said, please do draw your own conclusions. If you haven’t been yet, I recommend trying them out. I wish them great success as a new business in Ramona. I do look forward to returning to try one of their all beef franks and maybe an order of macaroni & cheese!

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