Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dinerwood on the Road: Night and Day Cafe, San Diego

On our first night of our yearly trip to San Diego, we headed over to Coronado, the posh island community nestled off the coast of downtown. The Night and Day Cafe is a 24-hour broom closet of a place and provided one of those most bizarre eating excursions I've had in awhile.

Night and Day Cafe is tiny--maybe fifteen feet wide and no more than 30 feet long. It consists of a modest narrow counter and a cook station with some nominal storage in a back room. When we arrived, the counter was nearly full and we took the last two seats right at the front.

The walls are decorated with some choice artwork and photography. There is also a very modern jukebox mounted on the wall, which I couldn't get a good picture of as I would have had to crawl over the counter and stand on the griddle. Yes, that last picture is a guy with a fish sticking out of the bottom of his shorts and the second to last picture does say "Belgium Waffle."

The cook who was working not only looked but also acted a lot like the character "Cheddar Bob" from Eminem's "8 Mile." If you've seen the movie you'll know what this means. If you haven't seen the movie, well what do you imagine a character named Cheddar Bob is like?

He handed us menus and asked if we wanted anything to drink and then went back to cooking and chatting with what appeared to be regulars. Note: he asked what we wanted to drink, which was a soda and two waters, and then went back to cooking.

#1DC Antoinette and I were both shocked at the prices. There was very little under 8 dollars and if you wanted something extra, like fries, it tipped the modestly proportioned (we could see what the other patrons were eating) meals over into the 12 or 13 dollar range. Clearly, Night and Day Cafe had been corrupted by the affluence of the area. A place like this couldn't have started out way back when with these premium prices.

I wanted a patty melt and Antoinette had settled on the salad when the late night cooked wandered in to relieve "Bob" and told us that we had the wrong menu. He then handed us the "Graveyard Menu." Graveyard because you'll DIE looking at these prices! Seriously, their late night menu cuts several of their cheaper items (like the chili) and ups the price on others by nearly two dollars. For instance the tuna melt is normally $7.75, after 9pm it raises to $9.50.

Thrown for a loop, Antoinette had to rethink her order. To his credit, the late-night cook did offer to basically make anything for her and run over to the Vons across the street to get any ingredient he didn't have on hand. She ordered a grilled cheese (which was on menu) with bacon and tomato (which was not). I stayed with my patty melt (which had a small price jump on the graveyard menu). We decided to split the fries. We then again ordered a soda and two waters, which eventually the new cook did bring us.

By this time, some space at the counter had opened up and a trio walked in and sat next to us: two bros and a girl who was riffing off Marilyn Monroe, down to her peroxide hair and white halter dress. Our new cook was seriously taken by her. Even though she was clearly spoken-for by one of the dudes next to her (it was unclear which one), the cook proceeded to do his best to seduce and delight her. He put some Chuck Mangione on the juke box so the sweet jazz trumpet sounds would enthrall her. When she ordered fries, he offered and then went on to make her fresh french fries, cutting new potatoes just for her.

After a nominal amount of time our food came up.

My patty melt was very good. It consisted of two patties and lots of cheese and it was grilled just right to make it all come together nicely. It wasn't the best patty melt I've ever had and it certainly wasn't worth the late night price.

Antoinette's grilled cheese was sublime in its simplicity. It's a great combo. The tomato helps cut the grease from the bacon and cheese. They also used garlic butter to grill the bread, which was a nice complement.

He delivered our second-rate not freshly cut fries. I asked our cook/waiter for ketchup. He said, "sure," and went to the back to get a bottle. He then delivered it to the counter:

Oh, not to us. He put it in front of Marilyn Monroe, whose fries were still crisping in the fryer. He very rarely took his eyes off of her. It was especially bizarre because everyone on our side of the counter knew and understood it was weird and all we could do was awkwardly laugh at how awkward it was.

The fries weren't that good anyway. He totally wasn't getting up her skirt using those.

Night and Day Cafe was really bizarre. Good, but not good enough for the price. When we finished and paid, we waved goodnight to the cook. He didn't notice. I can't imagine we'll ever go back.

Food: Good.
Service: Likes blondes.
Price: $8-$13
Pie: NONE.

One final endearing trait:

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