Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Hollywood Diner-Off The Beaten Path On I75

Sometimes you forget about a dining opportunity because it's not along the main strip or traffic pattern  of your normal week. Last week, after a day trip for crafty shopping in the Ann Arbor area and a stock up after two months of no grocery shopping (what possessed me NOT to dine in Ann Arbor still hasn't fizzled out of  my brain, other than it was after 9PM when I finished my shopping), I picked up the hubster, and he drove back to the Flint area. I figured as close as we were to home in Flushing, I might as well put some of those fresh veggies I picked up at Whole Foods to use and make a quick stir fry at 11 PM. Then we saw THE sign-and I had a coupon! Exit-stage right onto  Corunna Road.

Fresh Salad-YUM!
It had probably been a couple of years since I was last in Hollywood Diner. I know when they first opened, we tried them with a free coupon that came in the direct mail envelope we get once or twice a month. I don't remember being particularly impressed at the time. It was way too noisy, and the square footage seemed much too cavernous for what I thought a diner to be. And they got a liquor license and that just ruined it for me-I felt it lost the family touch with that choice. We went three times over a couple of months, once being during Sunday brunch hours. Then we just wrote the place off, as a diner with so much potential and in a great spot for travelers just should have been much better.
So on our "emergency" visit at nearly 10PM on a cold January night, I had a plain veggie burger (they were out of mayo, it seemed-so I got a take-out packet) and hubby got a cow burger. We went home and said "ho hum".

A few days later, snail mail brought a coupon for either a free appetizer or $5.00 off our total tab and I decided I was tired of the Miller Road eateries, so let's try an actual dinner from Hollywood Diner. We entered the restaurant at about 7PM or so on a  Monday evening to no basketball on the large overhead tvs and I was disappoint that there was only one other table occupied. As the host sat us, right across from the only other occupied  table, I glanced over and saw late teens or early college age kids on laptops and smart phones. So I guess they have free WiFi.

ravioli with pesto
  I immediately looked to see if any entree could be vegetarian and found ravioli with a choice of meat sauce, marinara or pesto. I chose pesto and asked for cook to go light on the sauce as  I am not a saucy type eater. I could have chosen some other pasta or again, the veggie burger (which is huge but they butter grill the bun-not really healthy) or a couple of other dishes I might have had the cook vegetize but this sounded good. Breakfast was off limits because they do not serve it after 4PM, which kind of negates the Diner part of it. Any other diner in town will serve breakfast when you want to eat it. I often eat breakfast for dinner and I know many a odd shift worker who would love that, too.

I offer a photo of my ravioli plate along with a close up. The stuffing was some sort of cheese, probably a ricotta and very hot! I can handle ricotta  as usually it isn't too cheesy and the topping or sauce gives it the flavor that is needed. I believe I had 8 huge ravioli on my plate but  only ate half. I think I was expecting them to overlap each other and having been tossed in the pesto. No. The pesto was plopped atop each ravioli and a little of the basily oil was drizzled on the pasta. It was very bland and I wanted to run across to the Kroger and buy some roasted garlic! I personally use pesto a lot at home and many flavors of it. My favorite is pumpkin walnut. This was no pumpkin walnut but just some generic pesto from a food service. Oh well. I did not order the marinara because I have found some cooks using animal broths for flavoring and I no longer trust it to be vegetarian or vegan.

My dinner included a wonderful crunchy salad with fresh pepper and halved grape tomatoes with slices of cucumbers. A basket of fresh Italian bread (wrapped in a sammy lunch bag-perfect for take home!)  was also table topped. I also received two half slices of this same bread grilled  with what was touted as garlic butter. From the queen of garlic, nope! It was soggy and old tasting. I was not offered any sprinkly cheese as many pasta dishes come with but I would not have used it had it been offered. So I can't vouch for what you get as a topper for spaghetti or ziti.

Had I been a bit more hungry, I would have ordered the fried pickles! Yup, you read that right!! If you have never had fried pickles, you are really missing out on a wonderful treat. Usually they are batter dipped in a spicy flour mix,deep fried and served with a ranch type dressing.  I might go back just to try them and a dish of rice pudding for a snack. For now, I would give this diner a high C + for at least having a few vegetarian choices. Sadly, other than salad and bread, vegans should look elsewhere other than perhaps oatmeal and applesauce for breakfast. Hollywood Diner does NOT have a website nor is their menu online. This is not acceptable in this age when a plain website can cost less than a full meal. They have wifi so they have an Internet connection and probably have some free space from their provider. Or get a free blog!

The service was wonderful (the owner also stopped to say hello ) and we were thanked on the way out. The teens that had been cemented to the booth across from us were still there but only drinking pop and using wifi. Just as I left, I handed the extra  coupon to an elderly couple so they could save a few dollars. I hope when others use a coupon they remember to tip based on the full pricing of the meal and not the discounted total.

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I really enjoy my blogging and hope you enjoy reading. Remember, these are only my opinions relating to my daily experiences. If you are anonymous, let me know what city and state you are from in your comment. Thanks.