This Station rolls out slowly
A devoted fan base from its sister location in Watertown, a distinguished setting in an H.H. Richardson rail station, a convenient suburban location, a full bar — on paper, the Deluxe Station Diner looks to have all the elements of a raging success. Unfortunately, though, the place, like its food, too often looks better on paper than it does at the table.
And just getting a table can take quite a while. Since it opened in January, this offshoot of Watertown’s Deluxe Town Diner has been drawing crowds even on weeknights. Our party of four simply gave up waiting one night in the cramped entryway.
We returned on the early side of another dinner rush and still had time to contemplate the tarted-up decor while perusing the menu, which reprises all the greatest hits of the Watertown location. Richardson’s dark tongue-and-groove paneling is still there, encrusted now with faux-painted verdigris rails, “brass’’ “rivets,’’ and whimsical light fixtures. You might call it steampunk, but only if
The ahistorical veneer extends to the cute-as-a-syllabub drinks menu, which informs us of the Ward Eight cocktail that “This Boston original was born at the Lock-Ober restaurant in 1898 to celebrate Martin ‘the Maharaja’ Lomansy’s election to state legislature.’’ The errors in that one sentence are enough to send history buffs scurrying to Locke-Ober to toast the apparently fading memory of Boston’s only Mahatma, Ward Eight boss Martin Lomasney.
But such trivia would be just that — trivia — if only the food were better. As it stands, the menu is as unreliable as its proofreaders. On our first visit, Southern fried chicken was delicately crisp but curiously underseasoned; we longed to transfer some of the excess salt from the otherwise tasty roasted beets to this plain-Jane bird. The Middle Eastern platter provoked a similar desire to redistribute the flavors: more tahini with the falafel, please, and less in the hummus — and please don’t leave whole chickpeas to ambush us there, even as the falafel is pounded into textureless mush.
Breakfast items, served all day, are a safer bet (as is the just excessive enough turkey avocado club — how brilliant to add avocado to a standard club). The hash is as we remembered it from Watertown, crisp shreds of rosy meat with a generous side of home fries, and the sweet potato pancakes delight the kids. Desserts? Nothing special, though rice pudding at least tastes properly of cinnamon and cream. But whose idea was it to top a latte with cinnamon, too? Guess we had better blame the Maharaja.
Louise Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.