Several years ago a group of local guys and I started going to a Friday morning prayer breakfast at a local diner. These meetings morphed into a weekly men’s coffee group we titled Say No More. We started a web site and were planning on charging dues, espousing on the world around us, and making charitable contributions that made a difference. Say No More was an apt name, because the web site never got past an industrial accident look and some of us (including me) balked on the dues paying aspect with no firm plans or direction on what would happen to the cash. I still have no idea where the collected funds are calling home.
The one thing we did do well was go out for breakfast at several places in Arlington and surrounding towns and review them for the greater world good. I have no idea where the original reviews are, but I posted a few on Yelp back in 2009 and have copied some of them here.
Rosebud Diner Somerville MA
This place has some real charm… but the most negative review you can read is just as accurate as any of the more positive. The staff is smiling and pleasant but tend to get to you in their own sweet time and pace, which is both quaint and annoying as hell because it does not matter if they are busy or not for this to happen.
They will trash customers they do not like in earshot of everyone else at the bar once you have left… so it kind of makes you wonder what they are saying about you when you leave.
Now about the food… breakfast is all we have ever had here and it you stick to the basics you will be all right. The hash is the best in a 4 town area (tried them all) but the home fries suck… the coffee can be good or not so good; it would be better served with cream, but they tend to serve only milk. For a laugh, sit at the end of the bar and watch every employee in the place start shuffling the creamer containers every 30 seconds… like they are all looking for a winning lottery ticket under one of them.
Ignore the no cell phone sign unless you can be convinced the microwaves might interfere with the toaster operation.
Some Pros: they work the small area well and get the place as full as possible and try to get you in and out as best possible. There is a liquor license (seeing anyone drink an IPA with breakfast, as we did, will jump start a conversation for sure… and keep you off that cell phone). The food is consistent, the prices are reasonable.
There is better food right up the street at the Rene Cafe, but you can brew better coffee with your socks as a filter and an enema bag as the pot than the stuff they put out.
Arlington Diner Arlington MA
You get what you pay for… and this place is consistently OK. Not great, not lousy…
The service is timely and a little impersonal. The place is clean. The menu is varied enough without being hip or creative, but God help you if you ask for them to burn the hash or the potatoes, make an egg white omelet, or do ANYTHING not listed in the menu. They will serve you every kind of cheese you might desire as long as it tastes like very mild cheddar. The anal retentive chef running the kitchen simply is incapable of fulfilling special orders. The wait staff will actually admit this to you in a weak moment… or they just serve the food the way the kitchen puts it out regardless of what was asked for.
Sweet Sue’s Bakery & Cafe – Arlington MA
There is SO much to like here… a big sunny window, open room, funky tables and cushions… and an interesting menu. But the service is a bit bizarre as it often requires ordering at the counter, and that hushed conversation you want to have about your sister and the reverend will be heard by the entire room no matter how softly you speak.
The food choices are… interesting and uneven. The service gives me the feeling there is a secret society out there I am now aware of but can never fully take part in… at times it is a bit of an estrogen-fest, so guys beware.
It is worthy of a try if the Arlington Diner just does not do it for you, but the more interesting menu you get here is offset by the peculiar service.
Note: This place is now closed under some very funky circumstances. Perhaps a reader will elaborate.