Friday, June 25, 2010

The Nighthawk Diner

The Nighthawk Diner in Oslo opened for business in March of this year. It is an American-style diner in a section of Oslo called Birkelund, not far from where we live. The menu has a small logo of a hawk on it and the letters TND. The diner’s name comes from the famous painting ‘Nighthawks' by Edward Hopper that shows two men and a woman sitting in a downtown diner at night. There were apparently long lines of people waiting to get in on the day it opened. It has become a rather trendy place to eat, for as long as that lasts.

I have to say that the owner, Jan Vardøen, has done a very good job of creating a realistic copy of a typical American diner. He has captured the ‘concept’ of a typical diner. It has that particular feel to it that American diners have—straightforward, “what you see is what you get”, nothing too fancy, comfortable and inviting. There was always something comforting about drinking coffee and eating a slice of apple pie or chocolate cake in a diner together with a good friend or several friends. I did it many times in the USA when I was younger. Diners were places we went to after we had gone to the movies in Ossining or in Yonkers, because we could get a cheap cup of fairly good coffee and we could sit there for a while and no one bothered us. When I lived in the Bronx, I would meet my very good friend once a week at the Seven Stars Diner (if I remember the name correctly) in Yonkers where she lived, and we would sit there for two or three hours and talk and drink coffee and eat dessert. No one ever bothered us or pushed us to order more food or to leave. There was always a big bowl of jelly mints with a spoon in it on the counter near the door, and we could dig in and scoop out a handful of them. They were always so good and they rounded out the evening. Those memories are very nice. Just to be able to chat and share our lives got us through some tough times as I remember. When I would visit my mother in Tarrytown, we would often eat lunch at a diner near where she lived. We always ordered the same thing—grilled cheese sandwiches on toasted whole wheat bread, a side of cole slaw and a dill pickle, followed by coffee and sometimes dessert. It always felt like a meal fit for a king, and I know it was because we enjoyed being together eating simple food that tasted good and that didn’t cost a fortune. I have another good friend who lives on Long Island, and when I visit her as I usually do on my annual trips to NY, we often end our visit together by going out for breakfast at a nearby diner. I usually order French toast, orange juice, and coffee, and we sit and talk and watch other people come and go. They are also nice memories.

The TND has a long counter when you first come into the diner, and a jukebox sits not very far from the entrance. Many of the diners I have frequented in NY with friends years ago had small jukeboxes at the booths we sat in, and we used to have a lot of fun feeding them quarters and playing the music we liked. I don’t know if the jukebox at TND actually works, but I must say that it was pretty cool to see a real jukebox again. The menu is also quite interesting. Breakfast is served all day--eggs made in many different ways, pancakes with maple syrup. Burgers are standard fare. Sandwiches include grilled cheese, tuna melts (yum), BLTs, and Reubens. There are ice cream sodas and milk shakes of all kinds. Desserts include cherry pie, apple pie and different types of cakes. I am going to eventually try them all. The one big difference between this diner and most American diners is how much food costs at TND. We’re not talking cheap; we’re talking typical Norwegian prices. But considering that this is just about the closest thing to basic American food as you can get, I’m not going to complain. I am just so glad to experience it, because it is one more thing that reminds me of ‘home’ and that makes me nostalgic for an earlier time when life seemed simpler and uncomplicated.

3 comments:

  1. I love diners, Paula. We have one here called Blue Moon, and it even has a stainless steel front, almost like a trailer. They serve unique memorable food such as open face hot sandwiches with gravy. Roast beef or turkey. Haven't seen those since I was a kid. Anyway, a nice post. The whole blog is very nice.

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  2. I ate at the Nighthawk last week (L.A. girl). I wish I could give them some tips. Drain the onion rings. My friend ordered them and they sat in a pool of oil. Cook the beans for the chili another hour. The shakes were kinda runny, if they are too cheap to add another scoop of ice cream, add a little ice! I had a grilled cheese sandwich from the kids menu cause I was jonesin' for that and it was really mediocre. They need a grilled cheese on sour dough, a regular pastrami sandwich, and an ear for listening to American customers. The real test will be when I go back for a piece of pecan pie...

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  3. T, you've got to tell them--or write to them and give them your tips. It's nice to have the diner in Oslo and if Americans can make it a better place to eat, great! Just got back from NY and ate in a few diners--breakfast and lunch--and it strikes me that the food is always good. Not great, but good standard fare. That's what a diner should offer.

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