Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Senate vs. Joe's Diner on Sycamore

I already know what you're thinking, these two restaurants are completely different. Yes I know, that is why I think it will be fun to compare them, especially because I went to them on back to back days. And if nothing else, I think it will really show you what type of eater I am.

(Joe's Diner on Sycamore)

I went to Joe's Diner on Sycamore two days ago for lunch and then I went to Senate today for lunch. Joe's Diner just opened up after being closed down since 2007 (even though their grand opening isn't till August 10th, so the menu might change by then). I think it use to just be called The Diner or something like that. When I walked into the Joe's I was greeted with a friendly smile and was told to sit wherever I wanted. When I walked into Senate I felt out of place right away and was greeted with a straight faced, pretend to be fancy waiter (who even tried saying the word Poutine fancy by mispronouncing it). I was sat right next to another table (seriously within a foot from them even though there were 4 more tables down the row we could have easily sat).


At Joe's I went with their normal burger which ended up being a double and served with a side of onion rings (or fries) all for $5.50. At Senate I ordered the Trailer Park which was a hot dog, a piece of bacon, American cheese and crushed Grippo chips (it sounds like something I would make at home) with no sides and was $9. The burger was a very good diner style burger. It wasn't too thick but was very juicy and filling. The onion rings were some of the best I had ever had and I even topped the burger with two of them.

The hot dog on the other hand was nothing more than a hot dog. I was hoping for $9 that the hot dog would taste better than any other hot dog I had eaten before, but that wasn't the case. It just tasted like a normal hot dog with thick skin. The bacon was very chewy and the American cheese was, well, American cheese. I wish I could have the rest of the Grippos chips that they had left over from my bag that they crumbled since that was the best part of the meal (I love me some BBQ Grippos).

At Joe's I was asked by multiple people how my meal was and was encouraged to not be a stranger when I was checking out. They did a great job at making me feel comfortable and welcome even though it was my first time there. At Senate I did not feel welcome and I don't think I saw anyone who worked there smile the entire time I was there. I even had to ask for ice because the water jug they bring out to the table was room temperature. Maybe that was part of the upscale restaurant vibe they were going for, but I like my water cold.

I just don't get why anyone would ever return to Senate, I would honestly like to hear from a frequent customer of Senate to tell me what I am missing. I just couldn't refer someone to go pay over $10 for a hot dog and a glass of water. This restaurant probably won't be going anywhere anytime soon though because they make a 1000% profit for every meal they make. Obviously it isn't my type of of a place and I get that, but what am I missing? I mean the Poutine was good, but for $10? It is fries, cheese, gravy and a little meat.

Obviously I am more of a diner type than a fancy restaurant, but Senate sells hot dogs, you can't be that nice when you sell hot dogs. So if you want my opinion since that is all this is, I would recommend checking out Joe's Diner on Sycamore and avoiding Senate all together. Let my expensive lunch be your warning.

Joe's Diner on Sycamore on Urbanspoon
Senate on Urbanspoon


  1. I think the comparison is appropriate and fun. It really brings out the ying and yang in terms of vibe.

    And that burger photo...wow...is that a perfect-looking beauty or what?

  2. It is by far one of my favorite photos I have ever taken. I look it all the time now and makes me want to go back every day to get another one. But I kind of want to wait till they "really open" on August 10th so I can see what they are going to change about the place and what they will be offering.

  3. i went to joes diner in search of the burger in your photo!! It is well worth it and tastes just like it looks... Yum. Never been to the senate myself, but no need to, The diner is my new fave!

  4. Glad I could help!! It is my favorite picture to look at, that is for sure.

  5. I'm with you on Senate. I didn't expect to like it, but I had to check it out, and I thought my cocktail was excellent, fries were good, and hoity-toity hot dog pretty mediocre and definitely overpriced. Most of all, I found the Big City pretense really silly and annoying.

    By contrast, I went home to Brooklyn last weekend, where friends dragged me to a similar type of place [upscale yet casual, gourmet/artisanal burgers and fries, plus local beers, but no full bar]. I got a cheeseburger for $7.50, and it was seriously one of the best burgers I've ever had. My favorite part was that the servers were upfront about their offerings and the origins of all their ingredients without making it seem like they'd found a cure for cancer or anything. I mean, it's food, not rocket science. This was in yuppie Park Slope, where you might expect a bit more pretense, but there was none.

    I don't think Senate is terrible, but I just don't understand the level of hype it's gotten.

  6. Isn't it a little unfair to review food when you have them hold off on key ingredients?

  7. I wouldn't think so ... it would have been a worse review if I would have left the stuff on that I know I don't like. Make sense?

  8. LOL, I totally agree. Corey. How does "holding the mustard" make it a bad review?

    Also, I concur on the Senate vibe. They were totally unwelcoming, and told us it would be an hour wait (even though they had empty tables, bar seats and they sat people RIGHT AFTER US...and they didn't ask for a reservation, so I don't know what that's all about.) We actually turned around and went to Lavomatic across the street, and is was stupendous. Fine food without the crappy attitude. Senate will never get my business.