LACONA A short trip down Interstate 81 two Wednesday evenings ago landed us at Arties Diner in downtown Lacona, formerly J&R Diner.
New owners Artie and Marie Wood have a bright and clean little eatery, and best of all not a trace of that greasy smell associated with so many diners.
Its definitely a diner, though, with its iconic counter and stools and a few small tables. A little dining room with 70s-style brown paneling and booths offers a bit of privacy.
The menu has extensive breakfast offerings as well as sandwiches, wraps, salads, burgers (the bruschetta burger piqued our curiosity), several dinner selections like hamsteak and sirloin steak and a few Italian choices.
Two homemade soups chicken noodle and bean and bacon were a good place to begin.
The chicken noodle was full of flavor with flat, oval noodles wed never seen before. The bean soup had a Grandma Browns baked beans kind of taste, a bit on the sweet side, nice consistency and lots of real bacon.
Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti was a good-sized dish full of food for $8.99. The chicken breast was moist white meat with a crispy coating, smothered in a smooth red sauce and covered with melted cheese. The spaghetti, which came in a side dish, could have been hotter. A nice dinner entrée nonetheless.
You either love it or you hate it: liver and onions ($7.95)! Two nice thin pieces of liver were flavorful and fairly tender. If theyd been cooked much longer it would have been like eating plywood. Sauteed onions were relatively sparse, and some were burned, unfortunately. Bacon was done just right.
A steady stream of customers kept coming through the door, unexpected by the kitchen and Kayla, the only waitress taking care of the whole place. But she handled it like a pro, never getting flustered and giving everyone equal attention to the best of her ability.
Several quesadillas are available. Arties standard quesadilla ($5.95) chicken, red and green pepper, onions and two types of cheese to glue the flour tortillas together was an insane portion. Seemed like there were eight pieces, so we assume it was two quesadillas cut up.
Spaghetti and meatballs ($7.95) was exactly what youd expect, standard spaghetti (fat spaghetti, the angel hair lover at the table called it) with the same smooth red sauce that came on the chicken parm. Two tasty meatballs topped the mound of pasta. We assumed they were homemade, since Kayla told us most everything is. Garlic bread was nicely done.
Heres our take on the sides we ordered:
■ Salad was nicely presented, iceberg lettuce with slices of cucumber, red onion and tomato alongside croutons and grated cheese. All the veggies were fresh and crisp. Dressings were commercial products, served on the side.
■ French fries appeared to be hand-cut, good everyday fries.
■ Mashed potatoes and gravy the potatoes were real, but a little dry and flavorless (throw some butter in those spuds!). The gravy was supposedly homemade but came off like doctored up canned stuff.
■ Sweet potato fries were the real deal, slightly crispy on the outside with lots of flavor.
Diners always seem to do desserts right, and Arties desserts were no exception.
There were four sweet treats left after a busy evening, and we opted to try them all.
Cherry pie had a crisp, homemade crust with the expected canned cherry filling. Topless strawberry pie was made with frozen strawberries and a thick gelatin topping, nestled in the same light pastry crust.
Chocolate cake was a tall, thick, fluffy slice with sweet, gooey vanilla frosting, similar to the frosting you might expect on cinnamon buns. Banana cream pie was the only admittedly commercial dessert, but was a very good product, an airy mousse-like filling with a light graham cracker crust.
Desserts were $2.99 each except for the cherry pie, which was $1.99.
Our total for the dinner came to $55.50 before tip.
There was certainly a pleasant atmosphere at Arties. The food as a whole was good homestyle and reasonably priced. Kayla was friendly and helpful, but was slow delivering our orders since the place was so busy. She apologized at the end of the night and told us its not usually like that.
Well certainly be back some morning to try out their breakfast.
Café Mira in Adams has been presenting some new features that appear almost nightly on the menu.
Filet Mira is a center-cut filet topped with lobster and crab and a white truffle cream sauce. Lobster mac and cheese is also quite popular.
Butternut squash ravioli is served in a brown butter sage cream sauce with a hint of chocolate. It will be on their seasonal menu for several more months.
Every Wednesday is wine night and now every Thursday is $5 martini night.
Café Mira is located at 14 Main St. in downtown Adams. Theyre open from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Park St.
Formerly J&R Diner. New owners Artie and Marie Wood have a bright and clean little eatery, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at reasonable prices.
HOURS: 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Soups are good. So are the desserts. Chicken Parmesan was a nice dinner entrée.
Major credit cards accepted.