The A-1 Diner has been around for a long time. It has been reviewed by thousands including on the original episode of the Food Networks Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. It is located in an old trolley car on the Maine Street Bridge in Gardiner ME and it is the classic image of what a diner should be. However , when you get inside the small dining area and look up at the menu board featuring eclectic creations you will quickly realize that this is not your typical diner food ( although they do have that also).
I have always enjoyed the breakfast at the A-1. My favorite is the garlic laced Corned Beef Hash ( which often runs out) however on this trip Simone and I decided to try some lunch. When we arrived at about 11:30 the place was virtually empty. This was probably due to the raging blizzard outside, but shortly after noon the place started hopping and the old trolley filled up quick. After looking at the regular menu and also the many specials of the day I decided to go with a simple yet tasty sounding Oakland Farms Burger special. Locally grown and farm raised, this burger came to the table topped with sweet caramelized onion and melted Gruyere cheese. I ordered it medium well and it was done perfectly. The burger tasted fresh and the onions were sauteed to almost a jam like consistency and they were the perfect compliment to the rich cheese. The only thing I wish was that the bun had been better quality as it was a bit dry and was the only thing that held this burger back. I also had a side of French Fries and those were excellent. They were cut fresh and when I dipped them in the bowl of delicious beef gravy , they could have been a meal themselves ( next time I'm ordering the large).
Simone ,as always, was freezing cold, so she opted to go with a bowl of Moroccan Stew that was on special. This was a vegetarian version of the classic Lamb stew. It was loaded with all kinds of vegetables including eggplant, garbanzo beans, squash, tomatoes,onions and garlic. It had some great flavorful overtones of cinnamon, cumin, and coriander and was a very hearty stew. It was served with a side of basmati rice which really wasn't need as the stew alone was plenty filling. Simone also had one of the famous A-1 Diner biscuits. It was also good, flaky and buttery and soaked up the stew well.
For dessert we split a piece of the Chocolate Torte. I apologize for the lack of a picture but this was so good I didn't have time to get the camera out, before it disappeared. Although the portion was small, the taste was huge. It was decadently moist and rich and almost a fudge like consistency. A perfect slice- next time I will not be sharing it.
Once again, on this visit the A-1 Diner met my expectations. My burger was very good. It was classic and simply prepared, the way it should be and Simone's stew was a great way to warm up during a Maine winter. The torte to finish the meal was just amazing and put an exclamation point on our lunch. Four stars for the A-1 Diner.