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Fresh and Local at the Diner? (and 5 links for Friday)

May 14th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Last night I attended a blogger event* at the Silver Diner here in Arlington, part of a chain of 18 diners in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. I have to admit I was a little skeptical when I got the invitation announcing their new “fresh and local” menu, but I couldn’t resist seeing what they were up to. Company founder Bob Gaiamo explained that past attempts to change menu items in response to diet trends received poor feedback, but that they now felt confident that diners are interested in healthy, local food — so much so, that they’re now willing to pay 50 cents more for an omelette made from better eggs.

Among the improvements: hormone-free dairy products, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef from partially grassfed cows (in New Jersey), local in-season produce (today, strawberries and asparagus from Delaware), reducing high fructose corn syrup products, breads delivered daily from local bakeries, local wine and beer, and more lower-calorie and gluten-free menu options. They also have an extensive children’s menu which now includes whole wheat spaghetti, organic grilled cheese, and teriyaki salmon with brown rice. Now, when we go to a diner it’s usually to satisfy a grilled-cheese-and-milkshake craving, so it’s nice to know these items are improved, too.

The food may not be perfect — they use soybean oil for frying — but I applaud their effort to provide cleaner, healthier food. The dishes we sampled — from salads to salmon sliders, burgers and pasta — were quite flavorful, and a far cry from your typical greasy diner foods. And more changes are in store: they’ll be getting nitrate-free bacon in a few months, looking to host farmers markets in front of their restaurants, and trying to improve other ingredients over time.

Now on to our regularly scheduled links for the weekend…

1. We’ll be exploring our new neighborhood’s many dining options at the Taste of Arlington on Sunday.

2. It’s also the Loudoun County Farm Tour weekend — and many u-pick strawberry fields are open for business!

3. Nancy, the local mama behind Learning As I Go, is also writing about nature finds over at The Magnifying Glass. This week, she tips us off to a place to go fossil hunting in Maryland — this is definitely going on our summer adventure to do list!

4. My favorite tweet-of-the-week:

@JoshViertel: Kraft asks us to “join the home farming movement.” http://bit.ly/9hrMl5 Sorta like me asking them to “join the cheese wiz movement”

5. And last, should you wind up with an abundance of strawberries after the weekend, try Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Strawberry Preserves with Mint and Black Pepper. Yum!

* Disclosure: I received a free meal at the Silver Diner to learn about the new menu. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.

Tags: eatLocalDC · five on friday · NoVA Locavore · restaurants

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Nancy // May 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks for the shout out!

    I saw a huge banner on a Silver Diner out in Fairfax touting their local menu, and I did a double take (and, I must admit, made a little joke with my dad about it).

    But I have noticed some changes (we go there now and then). I’ve always appreciated that they offer several veggie choices for kids, and I’m psyched about the whole wheat spaghetti (for me, too).

    P.S. I often get the teriyaki chicken with brown rice & broccoli. Yum!
    .-= Nancy┬┤s last blog post ..Calvert Cliffs and treasure hunts. =-.