The menu at this fun and relaxed all-day-diner was designed by Sean Jorgensen (Liquid Laundry) and Anna Bautista (Coquille) and they’ve done a cracking job; as witnessed by the crowd of diners that converge here over lunch to tuck into the comfort food classics.
Food options are split into brekkies, ‘sammies’ (sandwiches), sweets, salads and hangover smushers, with many of the dishes blurring the line between sections. From the ‘brekkies’, the ‘Purgatory Eggs’ (65RMB) are baked in a cazuela (cooking pot) with chorizo, potatoes and a ricotta chipotle-tomato sauce. It’s a mushy mess that when spooned into a flour tortilla and topped with sour cream satisfies in that way that only eggs, carbs and meat can.
The ‘That Breafast Sandwich Thing We Make’ (65RMB) deftly piles a tasty house-made Sichuan pepper pork sausage with perfectly scrambled eggs and a chilli-corn remoulade onto an English muffin. Served alongside a pile of house potatoes (or a side salad if you must), this is the ultimate breakfast-lunch crossover dish.
Less impressive on one visit is the Monte Cristo sandwich (75RMB) which is served with crisp French fries. This American take on a croque monsieur successfully stacks up cheese, turkey, ham and strawberry
jam in the taste department, but is texturally too dense. It’s best to eat this one quickly while there’s still some gooeyness left in the cheese.
To finish, start, or maybe even just to have on the side, order the blueberry and lemon-ricotta pancakes (60RMB) – a definite winner of a dish. These fluffy Frisbee-sized discs of deliciousness are as satisfying as you’d expect with plump blueberries and grated lemon zest making every bite a sweet and fruity joy. To up the pleasure-ante, Gracie’s ice cream
can be added for 20RMB (flavours include vanilla bean, chocolate or miso caramel).
Al’s Diner offers a solid mix of food and is perfect for many appetites – savoury lovers or those with a sweet tooth, kids and adults alike. The extension and elaboration on the already-popular Gracie’s concept is well worth checking out.
By Victoria Brownlee