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FOR LUNCH: SHINIEST EATERY IN SHREWSBURY

123014-americana-diner4-500x351-9004045Chrome and other decor gleams both inside and out at the often-packed Americana Diner. Below, a matzoh ball soup starter with noodles. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

123014-americana-diner3-220x162-7387773Two o’clock in the afternoon, and you’d think the large parking lot at the Americana Diner on Route 35 in Shrewsbury would have a few empty spots. You’d be wrong.

The holiday week between Christmas and the New Year might have something do with it. Then again, it might just be the seemingly infinite lunch specials on the multipage menu.

123014-americana-diner1-500x290-3087869Ordered from the lunch specials, the spinach pie came with a side order of Greek salad and choice of soup. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

123014-americana-diner6-220x160-4315823After waiting in the vestibule for a few minutes, we were ushered to a booth in the diner’s gleaming interior. Every table was full, and yet our waitress, Holly Douglas, managed to get to us within minutes.

How is it possible to feed so many hungry customers in a timely manner?

“The diner has three kitchens,” Douglas told us. “The kitchen closest to the dining room prepares the orders, the one behind that does continuous prep work, and the kitchen in back is a pastry kitchen.”

All of the cakes and pastry are made on-site, except for the chocolate pudding, she says, throwing in that “the bread pudding is to die for. It is like a custard.”

Lunch specials for the most part come with a cup of soup, and there were five choices this day. Matzoh balls are not easy to get right, often coming out too dense, so they are a good gauge as to whether the kitchen knows what it is doing or not. The matzoh ball soup served with noodles was full of chicken flavor and the one large matzoh ball was light, fluffy and filling.

Spinach pie, a Greek specialty and bargain at $10.90, arrived as an enormous lunchtime portion. Full of fresh spinach, feta cheese, with a barely-there onion flavor, encased in buttery layers of crunchy phyllo dough, this dish is a vegetarian’s dream. A Greek salad with feta wedges, chopped cucumber, lettuce, tomato and kalamata olives, dressed in an oregano scented vinaigrette, was the perfect accompaniment.

Wanting to cover all the bases, PieHole would be remiss if we didn’t warn you that the coleslaw is addictive. Whether it was part of my order or not, my fork made it’s way into my date’s dish. The side order comes not in a little pre-filled plastic cup with lid but as a nice pony-sized bowlful.

With hours from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and a 3 a.m. closing on Friday and Saturday nights, it’s no wonder the Americana is always busy. We’ll be stopping by to taste some of those in housemade pastries soon.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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