Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dine on Nine: Chelsea Royal Diner

This is my opening serve for a series of reviews I will be calling Dine on Nine.  Route 9 goes all across the south of Vermont and is lined with several communities between Bennington and Brattleboro.  People from all walks of life end up on this little stretch of highway, and there are not just fun diners, drive ins and dives, but fine dining establishments offering up classic as well as innovative fare.  Some may be a few hundred yards off the highway, up a little lane, and those may end up providing the best meal you or I have ever had.

Determined to become knowledgable regarding most of all food in southern Vermont, I want to review it all.

Having stopped at the Chelsea Royal Diner now and then for around 20 years, I think it's a good beginner for the series. It's along rt. 9 just west of Brattleboro, at the base of the hill that descends from Marlboro. The  building is based on a vintage 1938 Worcester Diner.

[from their website]

These days the diner sources quite a bit of their menu locally, and some even as locally as their own garden. I have to admit that I have a bias toward this sort of thing. They also do their own smoking and they enjoy making their own hard ice cream. They also prefer grass fed beef.

The menus have many of the classic diner dishes, lists of half dozen or so daily specials and a special for each day of the week. And their prices are moderate. They have a Mexican menu a couple nights each week as well.

My most recent lunch was a sandwich of pulled pork BBQ that was smoked in house, with cole slaw and baked beans.  The pork was perfectly tender and plentiful on a buttered and grilled bun, but a bit more heavily sauced than I prefer. A very minor complaint, and a matter of taste.  The cole slaw had flavor - even GOOD flavor, which is more than I can say for 85% of diners. The beans were a nice constituent of this classic trio. For a ten dollar platter it was a very good lunch. Having tasted my way through the menu for all these years I'm not recollecting a meal I didn't like.

I haven't had many of their desserts, and I noticed that there were 13 on the desserts chalk board as I was enjoying my pulled pork. For some reason my vision has always been diverted from the ice cream, and it may have something to do with the ample portions of the dishes. Once the season comes around in the spring I'm sure I'll be working my way to the Royal Madness - several dozen flavors that range from Aztec Mocha to Toasted Coconut.

Service hasn't always been as snappy as I like it, but it has always been very friendly and helpful.

LorreBob sez: check it out.

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