American diners vary considerably in style. At one end of the spectrum we have the chrome with white and red formica look – the classic 50s diner style. Then there are a whole range of styles through to the Hard Rock Café style of diner (which, ironically, started out not in America, but in London).
Coast to Coast, in Aberdeen’s Union Square, is the 15th diner in the new UK chain set up by the people who brought you The Filling Sation. In terms of atmosphere, It clearly is closer to the Hard Rock Cafe than the fast-food chrome and white.
The look is not so much fast food, more a place to linger over good food, with comfortable leather seats, split level and attractive little dining areas and booths. Unlike the Hard Rock Cafe, there are no guitars and drumsticks on the walls, but there are displays that evoke the sense of adventure of a road trip across the USA.
Diners and cross country drives in the USA go together. When you set out on the road and see four digits on the mileage signs, you know you are a few diners and motels just to keep going!
The most famous of these long distance roads was Route 66 which ran across the country from Chicago to Santa Monica pier near Los Angeles. Coast to Coast, however, takes a slightly different tack, featuring the less well-known I80 which runs cross country for 2,900 miles from New York to San Francisco.
Coast to Coast’s food offerings range from breakfasts, though lunches to dinners. We were there for the VIP launch event, so it was the dinner menu that we were handed as we took our places.
It’s always a good sign when people are talking in animated fashion about the various offerings. The sort to place where you have a difficult choice to make because so many things on the menu sound good! That was our problem!
For our starter we shared Sea Salt Pretzel, and the BBQ board, with Blue Cheese Chicken Tenders and Spicy Calamari. Good choice! There followed more conversation about the merits of each sample. The Pretzels were deliciously, light and with the garlic butter. My particular favourites from the sampler platter were the Blue Cheese Chicken Tenders and the Chorizo pieces. One of our party was delighted to have tried the Calamari for the first time.
For my main course, I ordered the Steak Fajitas. Fajitas are always a good test for a restaurant diner. Will the meat really be sizzling hot? Or has it been cooked and left under a hot light for some time? With the vegetables be crisp and crunchy, or will they be wilted and mushy?
Coast to Coast passed the test, serving up the real deal. Great meat, crisp veg and a particularly nice tangy salsa. I would add bonus points for including enough tortillas. The fact that my last Fajita tortilla was a little cool, was not so much the fault of the restaurant, more that I had been enjoying the conversation and lingered too long.
My fellow diners were also well pleased with their choice of a pulled pork sandwich and burgers. My third fellow diner was somewhat floored when, having ordered Baby Back Ribs, a gigantic rack of ribs arrived. One large takeaway box was required to take about two thirds home to use as pulled pork for another day!
As well as the food, Coast to Coast offers a good range of drinks. To add to the American authenticity I chose the distinctive cloudy Blue Moon beer which was on tap, but others include Sam Adams (sadly not the authentic Boston brewed beer, this is brewed here under licence). But other authentic American bottle beers include Brooklyn, Goos Island Honkers Ale, Jeremiah Weed Sour Mash Brew and (if you really must) American Budweiser or Coors.
For soft drinks, what American diner would be complete without Iced Tea or American Lemonade. For those who want something more flamboyant there are an almost bewildering range of cocktails. Drivers are not forgotten, with one of our party being very pleased with her choice of Scarlett O’Hara – a mix of Ginger beer with raspberry puree and fresh lime.
So the food and drink got good scores all round. The atmosphere was also well liked, with a couple of comments about the music being maybe a tad loud for conversation (but then this was a live DJ event for the opening).
The service was also rated highly for being friendly, attentive and efficient.
On this first showing, Coast to Coast proved itself a worthy addition to Aberdeen’s dining scene.
I’m already looking forward to going back for dinner and, some day soon, we must do breakfast!