A quick trip down memory lane (aka my e-mail Trash folder) demonstrates that I have previously made and subsequently cancelled reservations at Unconventional Diner no fewer than three separate times. I wish I could explain my waffling (pun intended) about this particular restaurant, but alas, I have no clue why I kept doing this. Anyway, this is great fodder for Friday Funday with the fam, so here we go!
Starting off with drinks, we have the Smoke on the Water (which my FIL, in true dad fashion, insisted on singing to the poor waitress), my MIL’s rosé, my Tokyo Storm Warning, and my husband’s Heard it Through the Grapevine. I really enjoyed the Tokyo et al. but fair warning! It is not for the faint of heart as it is both very strong and very anise-y. Don’t expect a light dusting of herbaceousness here; it will hit you in the face with licorice. The Smoke etc. was similarly boozey and deliciously mezcaly, but not to an overpowering degree. The Grapevine, on the other hand, is pretty extra. It’s probably a great drink if you’re sitting in a tropical beach cabana (or you just need a vacation so bad after a year and a half that you need to imagine you are), but you will be searching forever to find the taste of alcohol hidden under the fruit punch.
Next up: the highly shareable baked brie! It is definitely not what I expected based on previous experience, though considering that this is the background image on their website, my disbelief of this is really more of a me problem. It was also so unique in a great way–atop the gooey cheese was jam (the menu says orange marmalade, although I couldn’t quite place it in the moment), toasted almonds, and dots of caviar. Everything blended well and was ridiculously addictive in the way that only melted cheese can be.
Ordering the main course was a whole-table coordination effort as we tried to make sure that dishes weren’t repeated unnecessarily. Note: my MIL, after much debate, ended up with her old stand-by of fried chicken. It is not pictured herein and I will not come back to it, except to tell you now that I had one wing and it was absolutely crunchy and scrumptious (and is nothing more than just an entire chicken broken-down and piled on a single plate with hot sauce. That is all.
I got lucky that they had not yet sold out of the Peking duck bao entree, so here’s that:
Out of frame here is the plate of hot, fluffy steamed buns, sort of a DIY bao situation. The duck came off the bone easily with a fork and I was able to build several deliciously spicy, crispy, pickley, plummy, ducky buns. I have nothing negative to say about this dish except maybe that for $27, I wish I had had to do less of the construction.
My husband, again after lots of internal discussion about “healthy options” and “carbs,” succumbed to the meatloaf. Healthy, it is not. Low-carb, it is not. You may see what appears to be a small ramekin in the top left of the picture. Do not be fooled–it is actually a very large ramekin full of addictively silky mashed potatoes. But for it’s many diet-busting faults, it is absolutely fantastic. I am neither a meatloaf person nor a potato person but wow. Once again, the sweet-spicy glaze on the meat put a new twist on grandma food.
Price: $40 per person.
Bottom line: Unconventional Diner is probably the best possible name for this gem. If you could order Ted’s Bulletin on Amazon, they’d tell you that “people also viewed Unconventional Diner.” The international/multicultural fusion puts UD on its own plane. I will not hesitate to follow through with my next reservation here, but, like, after I digest the massive amount of food.