Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A hearty welcome

quawking VFR would like to take a moment and announce the arrival of his sister on the World Wide Web. Rachel VFR has started a blog devoted to recounting her favorite comfort food experiences.

While she may not be much for seafood and spice, Rachel is a Garden State native, and I'm willing to bet her space will fawn over Jersey diners, raise pizza-by-the-slice to mythic proportions and revel in Taylor-ham-on-a-hard-roll excellence.

Welcome, Rachel.

For those of you who have never left Jersey on a permanent basis, you may not grasp that the aforementioned foods are not readily available on every street corner elsewhere in the country. A shock, I know. I ran into that problem in the Rockies, and my frustrations boiled over in a letter to Denver Post food critic Greg Henry.

To welcome a blog that I believe will honor the sanctity of diners everywhere, let's take a walk down memory lane and review that letter now:

July 29, 2004


I'm writing to convey my disappointment with your recent review of the Cheesy Jane's restaurant in Centennial.

Aside from my bewilderment as to how you could endlessly gush over such an ordinary fry-pit -- let them pay for an ad if they want undeserved, unvarnished praise! -- there was one particular sentence that caught in my throat, as it were.

"Like any diner, Jane's serves scrumptious shakes and malts."

My problem is with the use of the word 'diner' to describe Cheesy Jane's. Burger joint? Sure. Luncheonette? That would work.

But diner is wholly incorrect. I have eaten there. I know.

By the strictest definition, a diner is a restaurant shaped to look like a railroad car. Cheesy Jane's, situated in the middle of an urban-sprawl strip mall, certainly is not that.

I'm willing to cut you some latitude there. But even a looser definition of what constitutes a diner would certainly include the following stipulations:

1. It is open 24 hours a day (Cheesy Jane's is not).

2. It serves breakfast all day long (Cheesy Jane's does not).

3. It has pies prominently displayed in a case near the cash register -- prefereably spinning. (Cheesy Jane's does not).

Not even the vile Gunther Toody's diner chain would qualify under those basic standards. That place is a sorry excuse of a restaurant chain, and its owners should be prosecuted for mutating the proud history of authentic diners, but I digress.

In conclusion, I find it utterly unpalatable that a restaurant reviewer at a newspaper with the stature of The Denver Post could make such a fundamental error. Please be more thoughtful with your future choices in wording.


Squawking VFR

Mr. Henry responded with a one-word answer: "Whatever."

That necessitated a response of: "It's reassuring to know you put an iota of thought into your job, you sorry excuse for a hack."

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At 4:45 PM, Blogger Todd Cohen said...

It doesn't help that the establishment has the word "Cheesy" in its name.

Thank you for giving me another blog to check out on a regular basis. Now, sleeping has moved to second place on the list of things I do on a daily basis.

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Local Shill said...

Another in a long line of brilliant rants. I'd never seen that one.

Genius, but I'd expect nothing less out of VFR.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Wow! What an honor to receive such a warm and hearty welcome from the squawking VFR himself!
There will certainly be NJ foods discussed. In fact, I plan on doing a series on that sometime soon!

At 10:34 PM, Blogger SJPSandman said...

So young, so angry. Damn that rap music.

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Pete said...


Can't let someone get away with disrespectin' the diner.

Otherwise I'm gonna have to go Jersey on him.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Joependleton said...

Cat, can't wait to see Rachel's take on Jersey diners. While I'm on expert on Middlesex County one's, I know little about North Jersey joints except for one near Montclair State where I used to with my brother all the time. Can't remember the name, but it was a good one.

As for the letter. Great job. Your best work since the great toaster caper.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Unknown said...


Looking forward to the diner reminscing. Ann Arbor does the diner just about as good as Denver.


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