Growing up in Forest Hills as I did, of course I’ve passed by Tower Diner many times. Look at it – right off Queens Blvd., we would drive by it constantly during the short drive from my cousin’s house by the Gardens back to our house, not by the Gardens. It stood out, but I never actually went- when I started going to diners, Georgia Diner was the obvious choice. Huge, all of my friends went there, all of the other NyC AzN people went there, cute guys, blah blah blah, and to be honest, late at night after clubbing, driving back to my mom’s house from Manhattan, Georgia Diner was on the way. Tower Diner was not.
Anyway, anyway, anyway, I actually first went to this place back in December after a “successful” walkthrough of my new apartment. I won’t get into why “successful” is in quotes. A few short blocks away, we’d been on our way to Georgia Diner, ironically, when I said “Stop the car! Let’s go here, I should get to know the restaurants in the area.” Unusually for me, I didn’t take photographs; the experience was pleasant enough but nothing memorable.
Fast forward to this past Saturday, when I decided I didn’t want to make lunch, and I wanted a burger. I immediately thought of Tower and decided to make this the test: will this be my new go-to diner?
I actually ordered from this section of the menu; my standard “first time I’m eating a burger at your place, this is what I order for comparison purposes” – bacon burger deluxe (no cheese). I schmear on a little mayo and put tomato slices on it; my opinion is that a burger cooked perfectly will be juicy enough that its juices will mix with the mayo, the tomato, and create its own ketchup. It’s a big test for me; your burger might be fine and dandy but if it doesn’t pass this test, you might as well go home.
Standard freebies with a burger meal. The cole slaw was sorely lacking; I added salt which brightened up the taste greatly, and a dash of pepper helped it, but mostly it was a huge disappointment. Also disappointing: only getting what I used to call a “super sour” pickle and no half-sours. Awww…
I also opted to start off with fried zucchini sticks, so I could also test its munchies/snacks level. What a great choice this turned out to be!!! BF literally raved about these, surprising me with his “You know how sometimes these are all mushy inside? I like how they still have a bite to them; I think I would even go so far as to say these are the BEST fried zucchini sticks I’ve ever had… well, you know, I haven’t had that many.” I’m inclined to agree that they were very tasty: the outside breading was flavorful and well seasoned, and the zucchini inside had indeed retained its crunch and juiciness without turning to mush or being undercooked. The accompanying marinara was chunky and held up well to repeated dippings. Yum, I will definitely be ordering these again.
The BF has his own standard order when he’s testing out a new diner – an order that would horrify my sister, who insists that one should never eat a mayo based salad at an unknown location because you will get sick. (Actually, she’s generally against eating mayo-based-anything, unless you put lobster in it, but this is a hard and fast rule that I’ve often wished I would have adhered to.) Tuna salad on white toast, with fries (yes, this is the same boyfriend I’ve mentioned time and time again that claims does not eat seafood). He pulls off all the lettuce and usually winds up scooping out half the tuna salad, as it’s usually too much for the sandwich at hand. But it’s a method that works for him, and this time was no different. He really liked this tuna salad, saying that it was good because it wasn’t too mushy, too overly-mayonaisse’d, and had the right amount of veggies in it (I tasted onion, but he swore there was none). It was good, that’s what matters, and he scarfed his sandwich down. (The fries, though, sadly lacked in any flavor, and we found them mealy and soggy. Boo.)
My bacon burger deluxe platter. The onion rings also sadly were of the kind that neither of us liked; we like them actually breaded, not… what is that awful coating? It reminds both of us of the green bag of “Onion Rings” (Wise brand, not Funyons) from when we were kids. Blegh. My fries were the same as his, mealy and soggy, but who cares about that, I’m here to talk about the burger…
I thought it was cute that you can see in the above picture the cut the chef had made into the burger to ensure it’d been cooked to the proper doneness that I’d requested (the waiter asked; I answered, hesitantly, “Ummm, medium I guess?” though next time, medium rare will suffice). I had to wait a bit for the mayo on the side that I’d requested; none of the waiters were to be seen, and the busboys didn’t know what we meant by “mayonaise”… but when I finally put together my burger, lifted it to my lips and bit into it, a ton of burger juice flooded down my hand and onto my plate.
You can kind of see the juices on my plate in the above picture, if you look carefully. BF remarked how juicy my burger was, and I agreed, but I don’t know where the juices came from: the burger itself, though not dry, didn’t taste particularly juicy (see above picture). I was pleased overall with the burger, finding it sufficient to satisfy my lazy burger craving (meaning not wanting to leave the neighborhood), but I don’t think I’d actually crave this burger. Maybe it was an off day. Maybe the burger isn’t their strong point. Maybe I need to order it medium rare.
Time will tell, because I already know I will be back.
Yvo says: Prices standard for a diner, I believe with a generous tip our tab came out to $30. I was pleased with the experience overall, and indeed, I have found my new go-to diner (thankfully I won’t have to go to T-Bone Diner near Continental, which I consistently hear terrible things about; is it even still open?). I will definitely be trying more items on their menu; they have a couple of other items that looked interesting, including the above “Tower Burger”, and then my standard diner fare, I will have to go and try everything… also of note, though the vast majority of their wine list is your ubiquitous cheap wine, I think the owner must like Mondavi or something, because they also have a decent Mondavi on the wine list.
recommended (don’t expect gourmet food, but solid diner fare)