The Diner

Restaurants , Diners Camden Town
  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(16 user reviews)
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The Diner
© Jitka Hynkova

The Camden branch of this popular chain was packed when we went for lunch, and the loud soundtrack (Johnny Cash, the Stones) made conversation difficult. Even more difficult was figuring out the appeal of the place, with its dark walls distinctly un-diner-like and its menu that reads like nothing you’ll see in US diners.

This chain is basically about burgers, breakfast and booze – with a section of hot dogs and a few sandwiches and salads thrown in. We could live without the authenticity if the Diner’s food were better. In our two sandwiches, grilled cajun chicken breast and the ‘Diner Po Boy’, made with soft-shell crab, execution was woeful: stiffly breaded crabs had little taste of their own, and the fillings of swiss cheese (leathery), dill pickles and ‘heirloom’ tomatoes (both wilted) didn’t make much impact.

The chicken sandwich was marginally better, but again the filling were lacklustre. Coleslaw was way too sweet. Fries were the high point, crisp and hot, and service is sweet and smiling. Perhaps the burgers and dogs are better, but in all it’s hard to see how someone who had eaten in a good American diner would want to eat at this Diner.

 

Venue name: The Diner
Contact:
Address: 2 Jamestown Road
London
NW1 7BY
Opening hours: Meals served 10am-11pm Mon-Thur; 10am-midnight Fri; 9am-midnight Sat; 9am-11pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Camden Town tube
Price: Main courses £5.20-£9
Do you own this business?

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|16
1 person listening
Joe_greenway
1 of 1 found helpful

Very friendly staff, warm atmosphere and good sized portions - I ate there last night and haven't been able to eat since!

Nicky G
Tastemaker

Sadly this Diner seems to have gone off on some very non-Diner, non-American and generally crappier tangent. I used to love The Diner (disclaimer: the Old St and Angel branches) then for some reason about two years ago they revamped their perfectly good menu and all their food all dropped in standard. I used to get the bottomless filter coffee with Dirty Rice and a side of fried chorizo, which was hot and tasty and delicious. But there's no such thing anymore so I tried Chili Cheese fries and my friend got a burger. It took ages to come out, then the fries were soft and lukewarm (were they sitting on the counter for 10 minutes?) with what appeared to be cheese sprayed from a can melted on top with some bland spiced mince. My friend's burger was ok, but nothing special, with a dry and uninspiring cheap, white bun. We may as well have bought a can of chill from the supermarket, some oven fries and a Rustler and it would have been about the same and cost a lot less. The redeeming factors are: good music, good milkshakes, good location, booths and lovely service with a smile. Just a shame about the food. 

Elisa R
Tastemaker

Love:

  • The decoration: great multicolour chandeliers, fairy lights, classic American diner couchy benches, framed photos of gas stations or Matthew McConaughey looking men wearing cow boy hats and blue jeans;

  • The music: rock'n'roll. Nuff said;

  • The staff: US friendly;

  • The drinks: MILK SHAKE MILK SHAKE MILK SHAKE. Creamy, delicious milk shakes. Oh Oreo flavoured milk shake, how I love you. And don't get me started on the hard shakes. They do a Creamy Nut hard shake (hazelnut, pistachio, Bailey's) which, on top of making me feel naughty and giggle like a school girl when ordering, is so amazingly luxurious it should be illegal;

  • The food: of course, the food. For breakfast, you get huge full English breakies or fluffly pancakes (hello red velvet and blueberries). For lunch or dinner, I always go for one of the burgers or hot dogs and have NEVER been disappointed by any – not even that one time when I ordered a burger with japalenos without knowing what japalenos were and my eyes cried for a good hour following my devouring the whole thing. And for dessert, classic american sweetness that will just top of a great meal.

Hate:

- The price: it's a tat too expensive for my taste, especially when it comes to drinks, but overall it's worth it.

Mimi B
tastemaker

The menu is exciting, the food looks great and the theme is well thought out, but in reality The Diner is more ‘English Hypothesis’ than the ‘American Dream’. It lacks imagination, atmosphere was dead and so it seemed were the staff. I thought this was perhaps just the Dalston branch, but the Spitalfields one was the same. The food was visually impressive; we were happy with it but not so much so that we'd eat there again. I imagine it’d be a good place for a quiet brunch, if you wanted to pretend that you’re in Fargo- feeling isolated and anonymous but with a hot cup of joe and large pile of pancakes. If you’re feeling less inclined towards deadly melancholy, however, I’d head elsewhere.

Samina R

I can't seem to find all Diner locations listed online, but I don't think I would rate any good enough for a meal. Went to the Spitalfields branch for breakfast, and was thoroughly disappointed. I ordered an Egg Royale, while my friend ordered Red Velvet pancakes. Both the dishes did not seem completely fresh. The "English Muffin" with the poached eggs were so hard that I could hardly cut a single piece with the knife, and had to literally bite into the whole piece. The pancakes were NOT fresh, and definitely NOT red velvet. The salmon was over-salted, and the poached eggs were overdone. All in all, not an experience I would want to repeat...especially not for breakfast.

jutney
Tastemaker

The Diner has good service, something that is not that common in London; but a good burger is not that hard to find and that is not a place for that... People in my table who ordered hotdogs seemed to be much happier than the ones who ordered burgers – I might try the hotdog if there is a next time.

The very confusing menu design with too many options seems to be trying (too) hard to impress, but I’d definitely prefer less options that are better cared for...
The cocktails were all very sweet, and the milk shake ‘cocktails’ were (less surprisingly) also too sweet: they seem to be alcoholic drinks for people who don’t like alcohol. 

Kemi O

The food is great, and it definitely as that American feel with the jumbo portions. It does get very busy, and the waiting time can be a little long, but if you're not in a rush, then it's a cool spot to get some good grub.

Poppy L
Tastemaker

I’m a big fan of The Diner and it always does the trick! However having recently visited the Camden branch for the first time I was a bit disappointed. There is a peculiar layout with one of the tables facing the front door (and its frustrated queue). The food is as good as the other branches, with brilliant corndogs, wings, burgers and milkshakes, but the staff didn’t take our order for 30 minutes and we considered leaving at one point. The toilets were a 6/10!

Scott P

Great place to eat for a quick bite to eat. I have to get their chilli fries every time!

London Aficionado
Tastemaker

Anyone who’s ever been in a real American Diner (and I’ve been in several) will tell you it’s a unique experience. I’ve yet to find anything that matches it over here. So, when I first became aware of The Diner back in 2005, I was of course very intrigued. I decided to make a trip to the Ganton Street branch, off Carnaby Street, to try them out. That was my first time. I thought I’d pop back there again last week, as I hadn’t been for quite some while. It’s a bit clichéd, with its red leather seating, bar stools and 50s faux-ambience. I go mainly when I have a craving for pancakes, which I particularly loved in the states. The picture I posted of my Lumberjack Breakfast on social media drew more than one reaction of ‘that looks awesome!’, but in reality it wasn’t really in the same league as the equivalent I’ve tasted in US Diners. Filling enough though. As for drinks, there were too many tinned beers behind the bar for my liking (sacrilege!) and the beer selection in general was quite pricey, at an average of £5.00 for mainly 330-355ml servings. The service was brisk and friendly though. No complaints there. But the bottom line is, if you really want the true American Diner experience, nothing beats the real thing. And, you get big city/small town America outside your Diner window! There’s just the tiny problem of the airfare …

Kemi O

The Diner is a pretty cool spot, with an 'amercanised' feel to it. The food is sumptuous and extremely filling. This one is definitely a fave.

Luisa G
Tastemaker

Sublimely average. You have to order your chips separately to your burger, you have to eat out of a basket...it doesn't do anything like a real diner. Very average.

Mr K

It almost seems to me, like people in Camden eat here simply because it's called The Diner and 'diners are retro'. It hasn't got much to do with a real diner, some attempts at american food, but definitely wouldn't classify this as THE Diner. There is a few really tasty dishes however, great taco salad and a reasonable cobb. Breakfast is better than anything else (all eggs are pretty good). All in all for UK diner standards this is a great place yet incomparable to any US diner. As the Time Out review said, one could deal with the non-authenticity. However, the service is completely dysfunctional. It takes way too long for anyone to take a drink and food orders let alone getting the bill and waiting for the card machine. One of the cases when the 'optional' service charge already added to the bill really grinds your gears.