I love diners. We have some great ones in Berks County, and I always enjoy trying a new one.
Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you have an expectation of what you’ll get: good food, fast service and reasonable prices.
That’s what Julie and I were hoping for on our visit to the 5th Street Diner in Muhlenberg Township (just north of Temple).
5th Street is your quintessential diner. Stainless steel covers the building, inside and out. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And the menu is the size of a small encyclopedia.
It’s eight pages (plus specials) filled with everything from steaks and chops to all-day breakfast. Like all great diners, the prices are very affordable, too. The highest priced entree is just $17.60 (the 14 oz. steak New Orleans).
Among the half-page inserts throughout the menu are four Greek specialties. One intrigued me more than the rest: moussaka.
Moussaka is basically a Greek shepherd’s pie, with layers of mashed potatoes and ground beef. The difference is the addition of eggplant where carrots, peas and onions would have been.
The potatoes were light and fluffy. The eggplant was thinly sliced and very tender. The ground beef was lightly seasoned. And the whole dish was topped off with béchamel sauce (a light dairy-based sauce).
I really enjoyed the whole dish. It was hearty and very meaty (at least a quarter-pound of ground beef on the bottom layer). The portion size was perfect, especially considering it came with two sides and a cup of soup.
My soup of choice was Italian wedding. Like the moussaka, it was very hearty, with plenty of acini de pepe and meatballs. It was a little salty, but still very good.
For my sides, I went with rice pilaf and applesauce. They were okay, but there wasn’t anything special about them. I just was looking to order something that wasn’t starchy to go with my potato-heavy entree.
Julie found her dinner in the poultry and pasta section of the menu. The chicken New Orleans featured two chicken breasts topped with jumbo shrimp, bacon, barbecue sauce and Swiss cheese.
The flavors mixed very well together, even though there was a lot of barbecue sauce covering everything. It helped that the chicken was very tender and juicy.
The chicken New Orleans did not come with sides; instead, the poultry and pasta entrees were all served with soup and salad.
For her soup, Julie got chicken noodle. But there was a lot more noodle than chicken (it was overflowing the cup when it was came out). It was still pretty good, though.
The salad was your basic garden salad with a cup of dressing (ranch for Julie). The problem with soup and salad was that Julie hadn’t finished both before our entrees arrived so half of the salad went uneaten.
Diners are always fast-paced, but things seemed to be moving a little too quickly for our waitress. While she didn’t make any mistakes, she seemed frazzled throughout our meal, and was confused about what did and did not come with our entrees (she thought for sure that Julie’s chicken was supposed to come with rice).
But that would be only our complaint for our meal. It was fast. It was good. It was cheap ($22 for two meals).
Our dinner at the 5th Street Diner was exactly what we were hoping it would be.