Monday, August 15, 2011

Seattle times restaurant review, Skillet Diner, Leenas Cafe, REAL Diner experience

You can tell things are kind of quiet around here because all I have to write about is  a restaurant review in the Seattle times that annoyed me.  It was all about the skillet diner  on capitol hill.   Skillet diner fans.... don't get your panties in a twist.  I 've never eaten there.  I'm sure it is a perfectly acceptable dining experience.  My  problem is with the   Seattle times reviewer who insisted on calling it a diner.    While it might meet the Merriam Webster definition of Diner   'a restaurant shaped like a dining car'.  It doesn't meet the American classic perception.  Their description of the  place  makes it sound like every other restaurant in downtown Seattle...  with a gimmicky twist.  For the price tags.... its sounds overcrowded.   $19 salisbury steak and $14 hamburgers?  Thanks  to the review, I'm not going near the place.  Thanks to the review I  now have a longing to visit my favorite   'real' diner,  Leenas Cafe on 15th in Shoreline.  Their food is "Diner' food.  The prices might not be 1978  but the atmoshpere and attitude is. Their  $9 salisbury steak isn't  a rib eye. Its ground round  smothered in brown gravy.  Their $6 hamburgers are ....well... hamburgers.  Their beverage menu consists of cola products, coffee,tea,lemonade, water and some beers.  The dessert cabinet contains peach pie, apple pie, coconut cream pie, chocolate cream pie and  and if you order the petite dinner it comes with  (are you ready for this?) Tapioca!  Its one of the few places left  in the Seattle area where you can still grab a friend and go for coffee and pie without maxing out your credit card!  The best thing about Leenas is the service. Your server is your server.  She (I've never seen a male server in the 5 years I've been going there) takes your order, brings your drinks and food and checks frequently to see if you need anything.  Each server has a section (the old fashioned way) and she is always present (if she's not , she's just getting another customers order from the kitchen.)    You are never more than 2 minutes and eye contact away from a soda refill or  extra gravy for your biscuits.   The be-uniformed servers are not out to impress you with  expressions of their individuality or coolness.  They are not hip, they are working.   You know they are working, you can see them working and it makes you want to leave a fat tip.  With Leenas  prices it makes tipping fat easy.    I mean really.... Dinner for  2 with  at least 20 percent tip for under $30 .  When was the last time you saw that?    That, Seattle Times reviewer, is a diner.  A  classic all American diner.


  1. While the food at the Skillet Diner is probably pretty good (if not better), what it really demonstrates is another attempt to provide Seattle's rich to pretend they're having a working class experience without actually having one.

    Not that I'm not a food snob, but what kind of diner prices itself beyond the budget of old ladies with blue hair...?

  2. I love me the Leena's!!! Good old fashioned diner food, nothing fancy, nothing "re-imagined"--just easy-peasy buttered corn from a can and mashed potatoes from a mix and genuine service from the blessedly un-hip and tattoo-less. Every since Denny's went down in Ballard, I have been longing for that kind of food,and when I visit my dear Frankie--it's on! I love that place. (And...of course, I love Frankie, too. Our friendship is not all just an ruse to lunch at Leena's ;))