Friday, September 9, 2011

Plouffe's Yankee Diner: The Worcester Diner Series

The Worcester Diner Series is still alive! While I've spent just about every weekend this summer traveling, Jack and I made a point to check out Plouffe's Yankee Diner! I realized it had been some time since I'd posted an addition to the Worcester Diner Series (or anything at all) and doing some breakfast spot research seemed like a perfect way to spend my Sunday morning midday by the time I finished laundry and got out of my apartment.

By this point, most of you are aware that I love diners. Really, give me a greasy spoon any day, but there's something unbelievably satisfying about a place that manages to prepare my favorite comfort breakfast food with a gourmet twist. That's what you'll find at Plouffe's Yankee Diner on Route 20 in Charlton, MA. Previously known as just "The Yankee Diner," the Plouffe brothers, Michael and Brian, have reopened the historic lunch car diner, bringing a new taste to your typical New England Diner.

Let's start from the outside and work our way in, shall we?

I promise not to bore you with too much architectural history, but Plouffe's is a true Worcester Lunch Car Company dining car.  That means it was built by the same people as The Boulevard, The Miss Worcester and dozens of other National Register of Historic Places holding diners across the US. It's preserved fairly well (I say fairly and not extraordinarily, because one of the past owners put a vinyl-sided, front lean-to entryway smack dab in the center of the facade.... the nerve!)  with most of the original decorate features still in tact.  The original porcelain refrigerator sits in the left corner of the main grill, matching the colors of the barrel roof and the antique wooded counter stools. (The refrigerator needs some pricey electrical restoration to bring it back to working order, so if we have any bleeding heart preservationists in the crowd, I'm personally starting a  Save the Fridge fund for this diner - so be in touch.) the windows are for the most part original with some great decorative iron and stained glass flourishes and almost all of the original interior wood work still adorns the walls.  You definitely feel like you are stepping back in time, but not in a Twilight Zone sort of way.  The team at Plouffe's have made a dedicated effort to try to keep any maintenance as historically accurate as possible without tipping the scales to cheesy which happens more often than not, so for that I commend them.  They've also done some stellar landscape work out front that makes the entrance inviting and homey (a valiant effort to combat the vinyl...).

Plouffe's packs in a crowd for weekend breakfast (and weekday as well, I've been told), so plan to eat at the counter or wait for a few minutes for a booth because the seating is limited, but well worth it.  Their menu includes all of the traditional diner fare, eggs any way you like them, homefries, bacon, sausage, HOMEMADE HASH. Yes, I said it, homemade deliciousness... honestly, I wanted to order an extra side of hash to take home for later.  Their pancakes are HUGE and in addition to your typical buttermilk and blueberry, they've got great specials like Pecan with brown sugar sauce.  New to their menu is Brian's Brunch Burger, a 1/3 pound all beef patty, bacon, and American cheese that is served on a "French toasted" bulkie roll topped with a perfect mix of ketchup & Vermont maple syrup. It's a huge hit with the regulars.

For lunch, they've got burgers, Rubens, the Yankee club, pastrami, and Philly Cheese-steak all with hand-cut french fries and a pickle.  Be sure to try the clam chowder and the award winning chili, too! (Jackson ordered the soups as a side for breakfast!) Everything is totally fresh and when available Plouffe's always buys their products and produce locally.  They serve Polar sodas, Good as Gold coffee, and their pickles are from Regal in Worcester! The diner's chef and co-owner, Michael Plouffe, always adds a few specials to the menu to give it some flare.  This week their website advertises Swedish Meatballs with egg noodles.

What makes Plouffe's stand out from the plethora of other Worcester diners, is their Friday night dinners.  Each Friday, Chef Michael opens his doors from 4:30-8:30PM to serve some local favorites and some top quality, but low-cost meals.  Jackson and I made a repeat visit last Friday to try it out.  We brought his sister along and the three of us made a point to order 3 different entrees to share around.  Jackson ordered the Prime Rib dinner (he had the last piece - it was late in the night) and it was heavenly.  Emily ordered traditional Fish and Chips - beer-battered fried haddock with hand-cut fries and homemade coleslaw. I had the baked haddock, it was delicious.  They offered a side of seasonal veggies, mashed potatoes with gravy or fries. No one went home disappointed or sadly with any room for dessert, but have no fear they always have a few dessert options for those still tempted.

The atmosphere at Plouffe's is casual family dinning.  You'll almost definitely meet both owners if you stop in.  Michael is behind the grill and Brian, the business partner, will be at the register or if needed helping serve.  They are completely open to special orders and substitutions, in fact, at dinner on Friday Michael prepared one little girl an order of french toast, even though breakfast wasn't actually still available, but she had her heart set on it.  Another endearing moment witnessed Michael chasing down the server with the fruit garnish that he adorns every plate with.  Michael sheepishly apologized to the patrons while assuring everyone that he felt personally responsible for the presentation on each and every plate. It's personal touches like this that will keep me coming back.

The guys were nice enough to send some photos for the blog! Thanks guys!

So what have we learned from this post?
1. I should never blog when hungry.
2. Check out Plouffe's Yankee Diner!

Until next time....
<3 K

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