Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
We're usually pretty slow and lazy on Sunday mornings, which isn't good when trying to make it to a restaurant that has a firm cut-off time between breakfast and lunch. We had been planning for awhile to have breakfast at Bryant's Home Plate Diner, but arrived at the 50's-themed restaurant about 10 minutes after they stopped serving their wide selection of pancakes, waffles, breakfast burritos, and sandwiches. Our waitress was apologetic about it, and while we've always thought that diners should serve a full menu all day, it's certainly understandable that smaller places have to limit the amount of prep they do and food they have out at one time. The diner has a pretty respectable lunch menu, though, and armed with a bottomless cup of coffee we quelled our disappointment, grooved out to some Beach Boys on the jukebox, and switched our late breakfast to an early lunch.
We decided to go for two diner classics, the Patty Melt and the Home Plate Club, because if a place like this can't do a club sandwich or patty melt well, they probably can't do anything at all. The Patty Melt was a thick, juicy hamburger patty on well-toasted bread with a gooey slice of American cheese and grilled onions. Patty melts can suffer from any number of problems, with dry meat, underdone onions, and soggy bread topping the list. This sandwich had none of those, and while a patty melt could never be considered fine dining, this was certainly a well-made version, with toast that was substantial but not too thick, onions that were soft and slightly caramelized, and beef that stayed on the grill just long enough to get seared well and cooked through without losing any moisture. The fries to the side were of the pre-seasoned and frozen variety, but they were crisp and fresh, still steaming from the fryer.
The club sandwich was advertised on the menu as being served on a croissant, but our waitress came back from the kitchen to let us know that they were out of croissants, so we opted to go with simple white bread toast. We're not sure how good the sandwich is on the croissant, but it worked just fine for us on toast — and in fact, we rather liked using the traditional bread for this mainstay sandwich. The club was loaded with ham, turkey, and thick-cut bacon, topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. Like the patty melt, the club wasn't anything ground-breaking, but it was as good a simple sandwich as we've found. We were less pleased with the onion rings we ordered to the side, which to our taste had too much coating for the thin rings of white onion. We like our rings to have less coating, preferring a tempura-style batter to the thick breading that these rings came with. The flavor of the onion rings was tasty, but the fluffy, slightly crisp batter was just too heavy and retained far too much fryer oil for us — but fans of thick onion rings should feel very happy with these.
The bottom line on Home Plate Diner is that it's an inexpensive and very solid option for a simple lunch. The service was very friendly, with multiple people asking us if we needed anything and always keeping our coffee cups piping hot and full to the rim. The 50's decor and music can be a little much at times, but the Trivial Pursuit cards on every table made for a fun diversion while we waited for our food. If you're in the mood for a cheap, fresh meal that will cost you less than a fast food combo meal, this is the place for you — and I hope next time I can wake up early enough in the morning to grab some breakfast.
Home Plate Diner is located at 2615 North Prickett Road in Bryant, and they're open 7 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sunday-Monday, and 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.