The newly reopened Waverly Diner admits plenty of pre-winter sun.
When my colleague, the eagle-eyed Lauren Shockey, reported that the Waverly Diner had just reopened after a what-seemed-like-forever hiatus, I dragged my ass over there as quickly as possible, just to see if the place could possibly be the same as it ever was.
As the most famous of Village Greek diners, the joint is familiar to thousands of residents and visitors. It never was the best Greek diner in the Village, but everyone who hangs out downtown has found herself in there at one time or another — and it’s open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
Though there’s twice as much seating now, some on a raised platform that runs the depth of the front room, the dimpled Naugahyde upholstery and the faux-polished wood of the tables and dividers has been faithfully reproduced at the four-person and novel two-person booths, as if art restorers had been involved.
And speaking of art, the quasi-naive mural of Jefferson Market Courthouse (now a library) in the days when Sixth Avenue was dominated by an elevated train has been retained and, perhaps, degreased.
I tried a breakfast I’ve eaten dozens of times before to judge the food: two over-easy eggs, cottage fries (as they call them, somewhat inaccurately), sausages, whole-wheat toast, ice water, and coffee. The price was about the same as before: $8 plus change.
Herewith a description of my breakfast experience:
In this tight shot, you can see the excellence of the links.
The ensemble was served, as in the old days, in a skillet mounted on a piece of board, which has always been the primary appeal of breakfasts at Waverly Diner. The skillets and boards appear to now be brand-new, and I thrilled to the thought that I was the very first person to use this serving platform (nothing is actually cooked in the skillet; it would stick like crazy).
Sausages: Gigantic! The best thing about the breakfast! In spite of being of exceptional girth, and looking like Italian sausages, these are more like porky English bangers, only with the addition of the sage that flavors the usual U.S. breakfast sausage. Utterly satisfying!
Eggs: Cooking eggs was never the strong suit of Waverly Diner. In fact, they often arrived undercooked, by which I mean the albumen has not set completely, and the rest of the white, while cooked, has not been allowed to crisp or brown in any way. This time out, my two eggs were a little better-cooked, but not much.
Potatoes: These shredded spuds are really hash browns. Just ask Ronald McDonald. They call them cottage fries at Waverly Diner, but they’re fresher-tasting (and, on the down side, less salty and greasy) than they used to be, but let the griddle accumulate more skanky old grease and the potatoes will surely return to normal.
Toast: One annoying aspect of this place is they bring you the toast unbuttered, and the bread has been long enough out of the toaster that it’s gotten stone-cold so the accompanying wrapped pats of butter won’t melt. Grrrrr!
Coffee: Bitter and thin, as always, but not sour in the least. Hooray!
The revamped dining room looks a lot like the old one — only bigger. The kitchen and counter has been pushed back to where the liquor store used to be.
685 Sixth Avenue
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 14, 2011