Last month I went for dinner with Fran and Becky. We fancied eating somewhere cheap and cheerful to cure our festive hangovers, so we headed to 'The Diner' on Essex Road. It's a classic American diner, dishing up the kind of food you'd expect (hotdogs, pancakes and milkshakes) whilst you lounge on one of the comfy booths.
Fran and I both ordered cheese burgers. The seeded bun was soft but stayed together well and the burger was juicy and pink in the middle. Best of all they top their burgers with gherkins and serve them with a little pot of burger sauce (which I love). At just £5.90 they're excellent value, although they're not quite as delicious as the excellent burgers at Byron. Becky ordered a fish sandwich which I was assured was also very good.
We also ordered some onion rings and chili cheese fries to share. Fran introduced me to these fries a few years ago, they sound repulsive but are actually incredibly delicious. Crispy french fries, generously topped with chunks of beef in a chili bean sauce finished off with melted cheese - so bad, but oh so good.
The service tends to be a little sloppy and I wouldn't advise trying any of the Tex-Mex food (their burritos are pretty poor) but the burgers, chips and onion rings are all excellent. It's a fun place to head for some cheesy American music, tasty cocktails and meaty goodness. If you do go, make sure you try out the hard shakes, they're to die for.