We rode by several weeks ago. That's the first time I spied the banner...peripherally. I turned my head just in time to see something about 'Fresh and Local'. We were on our way somewhere else and couldn't stop, so I stored it in my, "Better Check That One Out" memory bank.
About a week later, I saw it again...something else on the sign about, "The Next Generation". I put a red star by the former reference in my memory bank.
A few days later, I mentioned it in the company of one of my adult kids. SHE had already been there...without mentioning it to her mother whom she knows salivates over such news as this...and said she loved it. I forgave her, and made a mental note to be sure that the next time I went out to dinner, that would be my choice.
So, what is this marvelous place? It's The Silver Diner. Yes, you read me rightly, The Silver Diner, that place we know for their warm and fuzzy feel-good food that pounded on the pounds, made us sleepy, and probably contained a whole lot more bad-for-me foods than even I care to investigate. Those of us who partook loved it for its comfort foods, cleanliness and retro atmosphere. Oh...and...milkshakes. But I stopped going after I changed my eating habits.
Now, I can't wait to go back.
If you live in the Hampton Roads area, you'll be happy to know there is a Silver Diner...The Next Generation, as close as Newport News. And if you shop Trader Joe's or Fresh Market along that same Jefferson strip, or maybe visit Starbucks, you'll be happy to know it's right there in that same vicinity.
I am sorry to say, this is currently a Mid-Atlantic destination. The rest of you will have to take a little trip to give it a whirl...But if you're in the region, keep your eyes open because you really don't want to miss it. Currently, Silver Diner has one location in New Jersey, five locations in Maryland, and a whopping ten locations in Virginia, seven of which are in Northern VA and three in the Tidewater area...and since I'm in the Tidewater area, I'll be a bit more specific here: Innsbrook-Richmond, Newport News, and Virginia Beach.
So, what's the big deal? Well, literally big is the bison. Yep, hormone- and steroid-free, grain-finished bison is on their extensive, revised menu. And it's raised locally on New Frontier Farms in Virginia. But to me, better yet is their GRASS-FED, antibiotic-free, Angus beef, from Creekstone. Their chicken tenders are without hormones and antibiotics, their bacon sans nitrates, their eggs hormone- and antibiotic-free from Martin Farms in PA. ...local again, and if the buzz-word, 'Amish' turns you on, that's in there, too. Heck, even their tortillas are organic and local, coming to us from Manassas, VA. Bread? Try sourdough, (best for digestion), or rye and other multi-grain and artisan offerings...even their white breads are, (at least), made with unbleached flour. Okay, they're not soaking their grains, except for maybe marginally, the sourdough, but one has to admit, these folks are on the right path.
Other than my objections to agave as a sweetener, (see link a few paragraphs below), the only other actual product I am sure I would not intentionally eat is the edamame, (a fancy name for soybeans). Already suffering from radio-active iodine induced hypothyroidism, my health cannot manage soy, which is a huge inhibitor to the thyroid gland. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend non-traditionally treated soy in any form to even the healthiest individual. Read more in my archives: Soy & Sex: What Next? and Soy, Babies and Beyond.
Silver Diner's menu now offers 'Dinner Lite Bites' scoring 600 calories or less and giving run-downs on fats, cholesterol and fiber, for those wanting to see that stuff just before eating. Other offerings include several choices for low-fat and more surprising, gluten-free foods. And if your meal comes with fries and biscuit, you can substitute strawberries or sweet potato fries for a bit more cash.
The Diner's menu change doesn't stop with the food but overlaps into the beverage section with choices including organic tea and locally roasted coffee. Milk comes from Kreider Farms in PA, and while not from grass-fed cows, they do seem to treat their dairy cattle humanely, feed them special diets, and leave out a lot of additives that others have deemed 'necessary' for their feedlot cows. The Diner does still offer shakes and malts, and for those still buying into fat-free there are low-fat choices in that department. I'm not a fan of agave, but I know many sugar-converts are, so those in the latter group will be happy to know agave is used in the fruit toppings of their desserts and shakes.
Silver Diner's current menu is their 'Spring + Summer 2011' menu, indicating that it will change with the seasons, which makes a whole lot of sense since the idea is to give us in-season produce as much and as often as possible. Chef Ype highlights a seasonal specials menu that has only fresh and local seasonal selections.
This is cutting-edge eating and we 'WAPF-ers' can only hope it continues to get even better.
Don't get me wrong, I am obviously thrilled with this place. But it wouldn't be a service to you to promote foods this site preaches against. At the same time, I know there will be some visiting here that don't think or believe as I do, so for you...do as you see fit for yourself. As for me, I see the buzz-words...like "natural", which is largely unregulated so there are a whole lot of items that can come under that term that are not truly natural...and the word, "Amish", which speaks to us of a simpler way of life, but not necessarily nutrient-dense foods. Then there's the so much over-used term, "low-fat" which means the part of the food meant to help us assimilate the nutrients within that food is missing. And of course, we can't leave out "farm", which paints a pretty mind-picture, but some of the biggest corporations on earth tack the word, 'farm' somewhere in the name to paint a fact-distracting picture in our minds. Then there's the popular, "agave", which to some is the epitome of good sweetness, but...Well, read the link a few paragraphs back if you want to know more. Then, there's "nitrate-, hormone-, and steroid-free", and while these are wonderful, let me reiterate wonderful, they are nevertheless, not also grass-fed unless the billing says they are grass-fed...such as Silver Diner's Angus beef. Lastly, the word, "local" , while meaning it's helpful to local economy, does not meat it is necessarily organic, grass-fed or nutrient-dense.
Okay, I know they don't conform to everything Weston A. Price-ish!" No, they don't, but my heavens, click on the link and take a look at how hard they are trying! (My short rendition of their bounty is just that...short.) Pricers, it's important to remember that the vast majority of clean-food eaters haven't even yet heard of eating according to the 'Nourishing Traditions Way'. And while the Weston A. Price Foundation has been instrumental in revealing the goodness of grass-fed and the wrongness of so much else, I feel we have to be more than grateful when we find places such as this that are making an honest effort to provide us with better nutrition while away from our own kitchens.
That said, let's move on...What about those who may go along for your ride when you visit Silver Diner? If they're not on your nutrient-dense wagon, it won't matter because first of all, it's all delicious. We loved our dishes, and everyone we've spoken to about it, has loved theirs as well, whether or not they were seeking nutrient-dense food. The kids' menu gives good choices, too. Silver Diner has done a wonderful job in the extremely difficult job of trying to please the taste buds of just about everyone.
In closing, I have to say a little something about costs. It costs more. Once again, we go back to the why's of greater costs for food that's better for us. It is one reason why nutrient-dense eaters eat out less...Everyone knows that no matter how you shape it, cooking your own food in your own home costs less. But the other reason we eat out less is because when we do, we suffer the consequences of processed and improperly prepared foods, not to mention pesticides. The sad truth is that those who offer the best have to jump through the most costly hoops to get their best to our plates. I would strongly recommend that anyone having trouble with the cost of good food check out this video where it is well-explained by Joel Salatin.
If that's not enough, check out this one:
As for Silver Diner, this small chain offers me some very good choices. I offer them my applause.