Red Flame: This Diner’s On Fire
New York is perhaps best known for pizza and diners; classic diners pop up on almost every block and vary wildly from truly awful to exactly the type of hearty comfort food you need. How do you begin to distinguish between those that are good and those that are very very bad? (perhaps a good speciality blog idea…?) Unfortunately, until one such blog pops up, it’s going to be trial, error, and word-of-mouth.
Take my advice on this one, the discreet Red Flame Coffee Shop on W.44th and 6th Avenue will not disappoint. I’m not sure whether its the lightening fast and take-no-prisoners service, the consistently delicious grub, the always strong and always hot coffee, or the general diner nostalgia that makes this particular spot in midtown so popular and so good. All of the above allow the Red Flame to rise above the masses of mediocre diners out there and to shine, brightly, in an otherwise moribund dining neighborhood (fancy TGIFridays?).
The look is what you would expect it to be pure – pure Americana with bright red boothes that you can sink yourself into, table after table of rather grungy New Yorkers tearing into fluffy omelettes, stacks of pancakes, and thick breakfast steaks, a dining bar with scarlet swivel seats, and a quick-moving staff of apparent Greek family members (cousins, aunts, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, daughters-in-law, and so on and so forth) doling out coffee refills and sharp instructions. In a diner, would you really want anything else?
The menu is endless and fully available all day and all night. Omelettes make a grand showing with 28 varieties available on the menu and many more if you just ask; pancakes and french toast also abound with such options as the banana, peach, and strawberry smother Tropical Belgian Waffle, Lumberjack Pancakes, Cinnamon Raisin French Toast, and Chocolate Chip Pancakes; your usual soup and salad suspects make an appearance with everything from a classic Greek salad to a Turkey Salad, Tuna Nicoise, Grilled Steak Salad, and ‘Popeye’ Salad with spinach and bacon bits. What’s a diner without a burger? The Red Flame grills them up good and well with vegetarian options, a bison burger, a pizza burger, and your typical bacon cheeseburger (my favorite!). Lastly, an overwhelming list of Greek specials and hot entrees offers everything from chicken souvlaki, buffalo wings and fried chicken to fish cakes, broiled scrod, fried scallops, and shrimp scampi to moist meatloaf, lamp chop, beef liver with onion, and breaded veal parmigiana.
The big shocker? Most of this stuff is surprisingly good. It’s not haute cuisine, and it’s certainly not culinary artwork; yet, it’s simple and comfortable without frills and frippery. The Red Flame epitomizes the American diner while serving coffee thats not burnt and food that’s fresh and home-made.
Perfect For: a New York diner experience, coffee hit, big morning breakfast, fried food fiesta, cheap and hearty dinner